Oil spill shows potential of new product

Oil spill as seen from satellite

As you must have heard by now, there is a big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that threatens wildlife habitats in the U.S. Gulf Coast. BP Plc., a giant oil producer based in the UK is receiving a lot of the blame right now because the well being drilled that caused the spill is theirs. However, the rig that sank was owned by Transocean Ltd. and it is not yet known exactly what caused the spill so placing blame on the right company is still something that is under investigation.

However, BP is under a lot of scrutiny and receiving terrible publicity right now and so they have teamed up with a chemicals company named Nalco, which specializes in water treatment chemicals. The two companies have said that they’ve created a chemical that disperses oil in the water. The chemical does this by attaching itself to the oil and dragging it to the ocean floor where natural forces absorb it.

Sounds simple enough, however this chemical has never been tested on a large scale. BP has said that it was successfully tested in a small scale test but, from the way they are talking about it, it seems like it will not be ready fast enough to be used to combat this current spill. 

By announcing the creation of a chemical that will disperse oil spills while the company is going through an awful spill that threatens thousands of living things, BP runs the risk of making a lot of people even more furious then they already are. Some people may even say that this spill was intentionally done to showcase the need for their new product. Without taking an emotional view that many people at this time are quick to do, it appears that BP is risking losing a lot more than they have to gain through this new chemical.

They know that the Obama administration is under pressure from some in his own party about his recent announcement that some offshore oil areas will be opened for drilling. This spill can potentially change his mind or at least make further overtures to the industry more difficult. This alone can cost BP millions of dollars more than this new product can possibly generate. Add to this the massive PR campaign they will surely need to launch once this spill has been contained to rebuild their reputation, plus the cost of cleaning the spill and potential lawsuits they will be getting and it becomes clear that this spill was not intentional.

However, announcing a product that will fix a mistake that has been made while the fallout from the mistake has not yet run its course is not a good move. Unless they will be able to use this chemical to help alleviate the devastation from this spill, they should have waited a few weeks after the spill was contained and the affected areas were cleaned up before they announced this product. It is doubtful that announcing this chemical now will have gained them any advantage and by waiting until the cleanup was complete; it would have given them a jump start in their reputation rebuilding efforts. Just like the mistake(s) that caused this spill, some companies learn things the hard way.