Hamel Says BP Lies About Everything, They Lie Even When They Don’t Have To
20 Corporate Crime Reporter 35(1), September 5, 2006

“BP lies about everything,” Charles Hamel told a news conference at the National Press Club this morning. “They lie even when they don’t have to lie.”

BP’s arch-nemesis did not back down in the face of a full court public relations counterattack by the UK-based oil giant.

For more than a decade, Hamel has been a thorn in BP’s side, funneling BP whistleblower complaints to reporters, legislators, public interest groups, and most recently criminal investigators in Alaska.

Hamel’s sources on the North Slope for years have been concerned about the corrosion of the pipeline at the giant oil field at Prudhoe Bay.

Few were listening, until BP announced last month that it would slow production at Prudhoe Bay to address the widespread corrosion problems.

Now, Hamel is the center of media attention.

And he took his one hour in the media spotlight to rip into BP, state and federal regulators, the Alaska media, and even environmentalists who have recently come to the defense of BP.

Hamel said Alaskan regulators have for years been “complicit” with BP and helped BP cover-up its problems at Prudhoe Bay.

He said that the gathering lines at Prudhoe Bay in upcoming years will see “spill after spill after spill.”

“It’s like an old garden hose that leaks,” Hamel said. “And a patchwork won’t fix it.”

Hamel said that he knew things were bad when BP forced out of office Alyeska’s COO and CEO as “scapegoats to cover up BP’s $250 million fiasco in the failing Alyeska automation project.”

“You know things are surreal,” Hamel said, “when the Alyeska COO and CEO come to me to complain.”

Hamel ripped into a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News for fronting for BP and writing an article calling BP’s effort to control the burgeoning problem at Prudhoe Bay “a world class anti-corrosion program.”

BP has been on the counterattack against Hamel and his oil field whistleblowers for the past two months.

Just this week, BP hired former CIA general counsel and federal judge Stanley Sporkin to be the company’s U.S. ombudsman.

When asked at the press conference about Sporkin, Hamel said “no one has more respect for Judge Sporkin than my wife Kathy and I do.”

Sporkin, now a partner at Weil Gotshal in Washington, D.C., was the judge who heard Hamel’s lawsuit against Alyeska Pipeline Services Company in 1993.

Hamel accused the pipeline company of spying on him and his wife Kathy.

At the time, Sporkin ripped the company for using tactics “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

At the press conference today, Hamel was asked – will your sources confide in Judge Sporkin?

“I don’t know,” he said.

How will you know if Judge Sporkin is successful in resolving these problems?

“We’ll know it’s working when my wife and I can go to the beach,” Hamel said. “Right now, I’m still getting calls at two in the morning.”

Hamel was asked about environmental groups like the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which have come out in defense of BP.

In the Financial Times last week, Sybil Ackerman of that group penned an opinion piece titled “BP Is Deserving of Censure, But Not a Vendetta.”

“I don’t see a vendetta anywhere,” Hamel shot back. “BP is bringing this upon itself. It’s their pipeline that’s leaking.”

Hamel said that for years, Alaska state regulators have been complicit with BP.

“When I tried to work with state regulators seven years ago, they blew me off,” Hamel said. “B-L-E-W-O-F-F.”

One state regulator told Hamel – “oil companies can self-regulate – they are the oil companies.”

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing in Washington, D.C. titled – BP’s Pipeline Spills at Prudhoe Bay: What Went Wrong?

Hamel will not testify.

When asked why not, Hamel gave two conflicting answers.

“By the questions they asked of me, it sounded like they were coming from BP,” Hamel said.

He then said that “they wanted some documents from me that I had already committed to a news program.”

Hamel is working with the CBS program 60 Minutes on a two-part series that is scheduled to run later this fall.

The two-part series will be reported by Ed Bradley.

For years, Hamel has had a running feud with Bob Malone, the current president of BP USA.

Malone is leading the current public relations campaign to restore BP’s image in the United States.

On August 9, Hamel and Malone appeared together on the ABC Evening News.

ABC reporter Betsy Stark asked Malone – “Were you ever warned about a serious corrosion problem at Prudhoe Bay?”

“Not that I'm aware of,” Malone said.

“You were never warned by BP technicians or by any outside source about a corrosion problem at Prudhoe Bay?”

Stark comes again.

“Not that I recall,” Malone says.

Not that I'm aware of?

Not that I recall?

Hamel says he e-mailed Malone about the problems in 2003.

“The workers recognize that these lines are like Swiss cheese,” Hamel told Stark. “Corrosion is taking over the field.”

A year later, in 2004, Hamel says he faxed BP's head of Health Safety and the Environment saying – “The corrosion program is reportedly in an almost irretrievable state of disaster."

After the press conference this morning, we ran into Hamel.

He tells us of a story from 2002.

Hamel says that Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) was interested in publicizing complaints from Hamel’s workers – including complaints from a BP instrument technician by the name of Robert Brian – about the corrosion problems at Prudhoe Bay.

Two days before Brian made it to Washington, Malone paid Lieberman’s office a visit to discuss Brian’s concerns.

Hamel says that after the meeting with Malone, Lieberman showed little interest in the matter.

Not that I’m aware of.

Not that I recall.


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