Participants from the protest marches on Saturday could relax last night and watch the telly, while simultaneously reinforcing their conviction that the country isn’t living above its means and that there is a global conspiracy hell bent on reducing their standard of living and enslaving them in eternal joblessness and penury. Greg Palast, self-righteous yankee darling of eco-freaks and globalisation bashers alike, gave his fans exactly what they wanted on channel 4’s hard-hitting, gritty, independent, unbiased, intellectually rigorous, Sam Spade style Dispatches program.Whilst almost all his assertions were presented as unimpeachable facts, all the stuff he left out was much more telling. His target last night was BP. First, he successfully laid the blame for a century of environmental destruction in the Gulf of Mexico on BP, including the 2000 that died as a result of hurricane Katrina, and fingered them for the single handed destruction of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. He then implied that it was BP’s lobbying alone that caused the drilling ban in the Gulf to be lifted. BP’s production in the GOM is in fact about 400,000 Bopd, or less than 10% of the total.Moving on to the Arctic, he blamed the Exxon Valdez disaster on – BP. Wait a moment! Errrm isn’t Exxon a major American oil company whose operations in the USA dwarf those of BP? And didn't Palast previously lambast Exxon for their decision not to fix the ship's radar, in order to save money? This was part of setting the scene for blaming BP in advance for accidents that have not yet happened in the Russian Arctic, as a result of a deal with Rosneft that hasn’t even been concluded yet. Anyone been to Western Siberia? The environmental destruction wrought there by past generations of Russian oil production makes me think that BP, for all its flaws, is going to do a far better job than Putin’s oligarchical chums. Next he moved on to Azerbaijan, where he revealed that BP has close ties with the dodgy ex-KGB Azerbaijan government and by implication blamed it for the 150 years of environmental destruction that still continues on the Western shores of the Caspian. Has he heard of “the Great Game”, I wonder?Finally, we were told that it was BP that successfully lobbied for and achieved the release of Ali Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, despite the fact that no connection has actually been proved. Wouldn’t BP be stupid if they didn’t lobby for relations with Libya to be freed up? They signed a $900million deal with Libya National Oil Co in 2007, but have yet to produce a drop of oil. But in the end, it’s a non issue because whatever you may think of the Ghaddafi regime, in a lot of people’s opinion, Megrahi’s conviction wasn’t exactly rock solid in the first place. Take a read of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdelbaset_al-Megrahi.Meanwhile ENI have lost nearly all their 280,000 Boepd production in Libya and so the Italians are understandably jumping up and down bigtime, to get the NATO forces to do something pdq about it. That’s what Big Oil does, for chrissake! Mr Palast is probably right a lot of the time, but this, guys, is what pays your pension, fills up your car with cheap petrol (before tax), keeps the lights on all night when they’re not needed and maintains your standard of living above that of the ravening hordes from the Far East, who work three times as long as you do for a third of the pay. In the end, it’s all about maintaining your cosy lifestyle, your right to unfettered jet travel, your ability to drive the kids to school in your gas-guzzling 4x4, so get a life and don’t be too hard on the poor oilmen. I’ll see you down at the pub. We can argue about it over a pint or two.S
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