May 11th, 2010
01:20 PM GMT
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London, England - No matter who you think should be blamed for the spill in the Gulf, there is no point commentators making the point that the "B" comes from the word "British."

“The British Petroleum Company” was the official name of the oil giant from 1954 (born years before from the purchase by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company of the subsidiary called "British Petroleum" of a German oil company) until 1998.

But its focus after it was founded in 1909 was Persia (Iran) and Libya, before it lost both operations during the 1970s (nationalization.)

"BP" was just one brand in the portfolio for decades.

While the UK government owned a stake, and it has been listed on the London Stock Exchange, selling fuel to British consumers was only a part of its business.

It then became a big exploration player off the coast of Scotland and in Alaska.

BP transformed into a big American company with the purchase of SOHIO in 1987 (Standard Oil of Ohio,) its 1998 merger with AMOCO (once John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of Indiana) and then its purchase of ARCO (once Atlantic Petroleum Company and then Atlantic Richfield Company.)

The company was known as BP AMOCO until 2000, when it was finally shortened to just plain old BP.

To me, it’s just like Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing is just 3M and International Business Machines is just IBM and parts of the old American Telephone and Telegraph is just AT&T. The old British Aerospace (BAE Systems) is so big in the USA defense industry now that using the "British" would be nonsense.

Sure, BP will have to think long and hard about its recent branding campaign to say BP means "Beyond Petroleum" (it also once said it stood for "better people, better products and big picture.")  Some blogs are now suggesting of course “Big Polluter.”

It is an oil and gas giant and certainly, has not moved beyond petroleum, so it should not shy away from calling itself an energy firm.

But it has also moved well beyond its tenuous British roots.

Or it could call itself “British Anglo-Persia Standard Castrol Atlantic Petroleum,” or BAPSCAP.

Any other suggestions?

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Filed under: BusinessEnergyenvironment

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. CoderJones

    GK – Gulf Killer

    May 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Andrew

    This accident could have happened to any of the companies; it just happened to happen to BP. I suppose that all the pundits and protestors who want to harp on the accident rather than the company's laudable response don't use any petroleum products? Which, essentially, would mean they live in a cave, wear no clothing, and eat only what they can catch and gather...

    May 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  3. Mike

    Interesting to note, however, that the British Prime Minister advocates for BP throughout the world. Despite the fact that much of the business is American, the Brits still go to bat for "their" oil company.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Deborah

    I like the clarification of the acronyms of companies. Another comment on this whole issue though: This was a very tragic accident, with huge damage to the environment. Hopefully the ocean is strong enough and will recover. It is also a very tragic waste of a very valueble energy resource as well. All the barrels of oil that would've powered many, many, many Humvees!

    May 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  5. Neal

    I don't think this was an accident.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  6. jon parry

    Its not the fact that we need fossil fuels that is the problem. The greed and corruption of these companies allow them 5.75 billion reasons per quarter to insure that when we do end up back in our caves there wont be anything left to hunt and gather.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  7. Michael Mustapha

    Good day all.. I have a guaranteed solution to this major desaster! I have been trying to contact BP through Deep Horizon but with very little success, the product we have to offer is already being used by the likes of Shell and other major oil companies to clean up spills (onshore and offshore). if anyone has an idea how to get hold of someone in power at BP pls let me know... there is somthing in it for you. pls contact me on, or


    May 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  8. George

    Mike May 11th, 2010 3:54 pm ET
    Interesting to note, however, that the British Prime Minister advocates for BP throughout the world. Despite the fact that much of the business is American, the Brits still go to bat for "their" oil company.


    And of course us Americans don't think anything is ours. We just go and steal it.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  9. George

    What country do most of the share holders reside?
    Who are the major share holders in the company?

    With these answers you might be able to point a finger at who is BP and come up with a better name.


    May 11, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  10. dxk

    I agree with others. The Brits are coming; they want back the 13 colonies.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  11. Paul

    Actually most Brits don't seem too fussed who owns companies; its not a source of pride in the way americans are with theirs; with one exception (cadburys) which is now owned by Kraft. but we ARE talking about chocolate here, something that Britain is unbeatable for (ducks under table to avoid oncoming barrage from Hershey/Nestle fans)

    May 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  12. Johnny

    A Greedy Profit Hungry BIg Corporation.
    Who cut down on safety in order to increase their profits.
    A company who does not give ANYTHING back to the people and endangers our environment and safety.

    This "accident" was caused by GREED..
    They make tens of BILLIONS of profits but did not want to spend 500.000 on a switch to prevent the worst oil catastrophe from happening...

    May 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Tony-S

    Or down the old bit of logic popular in the UK – if it is good and it works well, of course it is British! If one the other hand it is the usual load of garbage "well it's nothing to do with us" .....

    May 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  14. Jack E. Wyant

    BP is the best run multinational in the world. BP has been the second largest mining company (Gold, Diamonds, Copper etc. etc.) as well as the largest house brand groceries distributor in Europe; a very large and leading solar panel developer and producer; extensive shrimp and salmon farming as well as a leading producer of special advanced materials producer – Formula I Car Cockpits; leading edge wing surfaces on short an amazing company run by just five men based in London. I'm sure I missed something. During 10 years I sought new investment opportunities for them.

    May 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  15. Andres

    How about BASTARDS? (British American Scum Trashing Areas Rich in Diverse Sea-life).

    May 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  16. justin

    anybody who works in offshore production ops can see the whole problem is the non functioning of the Blow out preventer – it is the property of transocean.I am sure that proper testing of the same is not carried out and usually such tests are done by the contractor in presence of the operator representative-in this case BP.So both these companies are fully responsible for the whole mess.It is high time they are both banned from GOM.It was indeed so commical to read today their statements in the senate today -typical oil men !! -we know it all but when the time comes lets pass the ball around !!

    May 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  17. justin

    anybody who works in offshore production ops can see the whole problem is the non functioning of the Blow out preventer – it is the property of transocean.I am sure that proper testing of the same is not carried out and usually such tests are done by the contractor in presence of the operator representative-in this case BP.So both these companies are fully responsible for the whole mess.It is high time they are both banned from GOM.It was indeed so commical to read today their statements in the senate -typical oil men !! -we know it all but when the time comes lets pass the ball around !!

    May 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  18. silencedogood

    Listed on the London stock exchange–no, not british. Started by britain–no, not british there either. Give me a break. I guess American Airlines isn't an American company since it flies around the globe.

    May 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  19. Bob from Pitt

    Andrew wrote:

    This accident could have happened to any of the companies..!!


    I have worked for a few oils companies, I have participated in safety reviews many times, having said that there is a balance between cost and safety and accidents happen when the two are not in a balance..
    DuPont is another petrochemical company and its safety record is second to none, so if you think it could happen to any company..! Think again there are companies that are less likely to happen to..

    May 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  20. Michael

    This spillage must be the biggest advertisement for everyone to get themselves off the oil drug, There must be a massive drive for alternative energy whether it be wind, wave, hydrogen, etc. It has to be clean and secure and safe. The environmental destruction _ Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, Spain etc is too high a price to pay. Asia, Europe and the United States etc have to drive the alternative energy system as a matter of the highest priority. BP, XY, ABC, it does not matter. The label is unimportant – the consequences are appalling.

    May 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  21. Alan Brew

    Jim, you are correct to note that companies evolve away from their origins – AT&T, IBM, etc are good examples. The issue for BP is not the 'British' part of its name heritage, but the 'Petroleum' part.

    BP tried to utilize the initials 'BP' when it changed its name to explain that they no longer stood for 'British Petroleum' . Beyond Petroleum was a seductive but dangerous piece in that campaign that should have remained a short-term name change campaign. It should not have been elevated to a corporate brand positioning, as it was.

    BP is an oil company. Its logo is emblazoned on 1300 petrol stations in the UK and more than 10,000 in the US. For the company to try to claim it is beyond petroleum is ingenuous in the extreme.

    See more on this at

    May 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  22. ed

    No new name suggestions, but do find the green and yellow palette on the logo hilarious.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  23. mat

    what a load of rubbish just because a company does better in countries other than the country of its origin still makes it british.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  24. cesare

    they just created the British Pond (Gulf of Mexico)

    May 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  25. Danny

    Taking the point from Mike above, I'm English and have never heard the (prior) priminister promote an oil company, although I did feel some guilt when it was announced that BP were at fault.

    The oil spill should be the focal point of news attention in my opinion rather than the nonsense that surrounds the british parliament at the moment which is out of our hands.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  26. rafaMEX

    andrew: not to an european company, you see, american companies have the bad habit to have their priorities like this: 1.- insurance, 2.- personal safety in that order, thats why is not a suprise that this has happened.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  27. ghost geezer

    GK–Gulf Killer. Thank you, Coder Jones. This one
    should stick.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  28. Adrian

    Company made from stealing Irans oil.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
  29. Barry Mung

    BP is a British company and is the UK's largest corporation.

    It's listed on the LSE and is headquartered in London.

    Most of the senior staff are based in Britain and it pays UK taxes on its profits. Revenue passes through British banks.

    The technology that BP uses is developed and manufactured in the UK. The UK leads the world with deep sea oil exploration.

    Of course BP is British! It doesn't matter where most of the business is done.

    To argue BP is anything but British is like arguing that McDonalds is not American, because most of its business is done elsewhere.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  30. T. Lee

    How about – "SFB Oil Development & Management, Inc"

    (That's "S*** – for – Brains Oil Development & Management, Ind"

    May 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  31. Andrew Beckett

    How many petroleum products go into the felt tip pens those protestors clearly believe they used to some effect? Also, what is the point of this article? Is it actually suggesting companies rebrand every time they make an acquisition or diversify?

    May 11, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  32. hrmm

    interesting how all the territorial anti uk comments vanished, replaced by 'well, it could have happened to anyone..'

    May 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  33. New2this

    Quite ironic that the oil leaks out on the coastline of one of the biggest gas guzzling nations in the world with their big V6s, V8s .... so now you complain about the environment – when it directly affects you.

    Perhaps if you had smaller cars with smaller engines and took things like the Kyota protocols more serioulsy, companies would not pump the earth dry as much.

    Just a thought!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm |


    Of Course HYPOCRITE Republicans don't care about anything but their own pocket books. !!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  35. Alessandro Cima

    I'm outraged as everyone about this very serious accident, such things should not happen is inconceivable ... :(
    I read that the engineers at BP are looking for anyone to suggest a solution to close the loophole after the failed attempt to control with their dome, I did a drawing of the Empowerment Website Project, I have much more chance of success if those who I can do is reading view from BP:

    May 11, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  36. Nick

    Looking at the breakdown of stockholders is illuminating: it's 40% owned by UK institutions and individuals vs. 39% for their US counterparts. Its primary listing is on the LSE, its board and senior management are mostly British, and is the largest tax contributor to the British government. I'd say that makes it largely British.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  37. jude

    you mean iran is behind the oil spill? if not, why are you posting this article "now"? just accusing iran?

    May 12, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  38. wpj


    May 12, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  39. mac

    Sometimes "they" need to test new products and generate distractions... you will see a company release about the "new solution" product soon...

    May 12, 2010 at 5:04 am |
  40. sb

    bee pee

    May 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  41. thekenyan

    why the noise?? BP, shell and other petroleum giants have been doing this sort of thing and getting away with it in Africa and south america for decades.
    Thank God the oil and natural gas ( lots and lots of it) that has been discovered in Kenya this week is being drilled by the Chinese, i doubt they will pull the same BS in Kenya because every one is watching them.........and they are eager to please.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  42. AJ ROSS

    I think that within the environmental catastrophe, joined the silence from BP for the deaths of workers who died in the accident, I believe that procedures were violated, security systems and mechanical integrity of the process of oil extraction is sorry, currently in Venezuela PDVSA, the range PEARL, in the Gulf of Paria, sank another rig, without environmental damage, the well is controlled and stabilized and its 95 workers without damage.

    May 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  43. A.W.

    While British Petroleum has legal responsibility, one must not forget the American contractor and owner of the platform (along with its equipment and personnel handling the beast): Transocean. BP was like the British guy driving a faulty American car. As the car suddenly blows up, everyone is blaming the driver instead of acting the old American way: placing a law suit on the car manufacturer as well...

    May 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  44. John

    11 people died , i don't hear any news about their families , obviously the sea, fish and birds are nore important....reality check required . The cause will be investigated and action taken to minimise a repeat but this is the price we pay now and will do in the future for OIL & TAX

    May 15, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  45. Ian Scholes

    I have to agree with Barry Mung. BP is a British company, since it had its roots in Britain and it is registered in Britain. It identifies itself as a British company as well, not only in its name. It has a British CEO and a large part of its workforce is British too. Sure, BP is doing business all over the world, including in the United States, but to state that BP 'transformed into a big American company' is utter nonsense.

    Same is true with BAE Systems by the way. Registered in Britain, identifies itself as British, has a British CEO, etc, etc. It's doing business all over the world, but it's still very much a British company.

    May 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  46. Bill Weekly

    The big problem is all oil companies use consultants instead of employees now days. The problem in the Gulf is serious and not only the oil companies should stand up and admit their wrong but there should be some kind of requiremetn to demand that all companies maintain employees and stand up for what they really stand for.

    Oil companies are needed look at the jobs but it is with great pain I say they must be requlated and that should include the requirement for having employees not consultants who read the procedures and shake there head at problems because they are not employees and cannot or won't make a decesion. Thie is why we have oil flowing in the Gulf of Mexico now.

    May 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  47. Paul

    This is a non-argument. No company of the size of BP does not have foreign owned interests as no traditional single domestic market could possibly elevate a company to the level BP now enjoys.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  48. Mizo

    BP is really only one third british, as it is one third is AMOCO (Standard Oil of Indiana), and one third is ARCO (both american), 60% of its workforce are american and similar amounts of revenue are generated from North America.

    Alaska, U.S. Continental on shore Gas Production and Gulf of Mexico are three of their three largest business units. North Sea oil is smaller in comparison.

    Most gas stations are also in America.

    Despite being listed on LSE, just as many shares are American Depository Receipts (ADR's) traded in New York.

    The fact that corporate HQ is in London and that the current CEO is British is irrelevant, as these are truly global multinationals. Their head of upstream exploration and production division which is responsible are mostly based in Houston and is run by an Australian/American. Their Houston office is much bigger than their central london office. Their CFO is american, Their head of Alternative Energy is American, Their head of HR is American, their Chairman of the board is Swedish.

    Royal Dutch – Shell Transport & Trading is said to be Anglo-Dutch run by a Swiss

    Exxon Mobil is Texan/Virginian

    Chevron Texaco is Californian/Texan

    Total Fina Elf is French-Belgian

    Conoco Phillips is Oklahoman-Texan

    The main issue is that the environmental tragedy is an absolute disaster – and we should all pull together to help the crisis – but the nationality or point of incorporation of the offender is really a side point, we always get this jingoistic feeling when it is Toyota at fault or Dubai Ports trying to buy NYC ports, or Sinopec trying to buy UnoCal, yet we have no issue when Amoco Cadiz destroyed the coast of brittany in France, or Union Carbide killed hundreds in India, or that Occidentaly (Oxy) killed hundred in the british north sea on piper alpha offshore oil explosion.

    Exxon is still disputing claims in Alaska when their drunk sea captain crashed his super tanker in the prince william sound, yet BP has already paid out hundreds of claims despite someone else operating the vessel/rig (transocean).

    We do have selective memory that is for sure!!!!

    May 18, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  49. anon

    May 20, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  50. naos

    Just BLOODY PLAYER (=BP) international or local that's what they are

    May 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  51. Smith in Oregon

    The Hero and Darling of the Republican Party, former President George W. Bush speaking before an audience of entranced ardent Republican boosters and Tea potty neo-cons at the Dallas Convention Center today who had gathered at the American Wind Energy Association meeting stated, 'It's in our economic interests that we diversify AWAY from oil' and 'It's in our environmental interest'. The former Texas Oilman and member of a longtime Oil family finished his speech stating 'It's in our national security interest'.

    The Republican party now has their marching orders. Perhaps they'll stop bashing former Vice President Al Gore over his insistence for America to move away from Oil for the past 20 years.

    The MAJORITY in America expects the Republican party lawmakers, leaders and members to now follow your Hero's advice and help move America AWAY from Oil.

    May 26, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  52. daz

    should it matter where a company is based in this 'global economy' can we just get the leak stopped and clear up all the sh*t.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  53. rkm

    This is not the first time and it won't be the last time an industrial accident happens..Let's deal with it and move on..All other issues are irrelevant

    June 8, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  54. Daniele what? Have you discovered multinational companies?

    June 23, 2010 at 5:44 am |
  55. GGinSandiego

    And this gem of an article, call it spin if you will, comes direct from . . .LONDON. Surprise, surprise.

    June 29, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  56. gas billig

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    April 10, 2012 at 7:36 am |

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