What’s on the Horizon for BP?

Wednesday, April 20, will be the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Just a week out from that infamous date, BP is holding its annual general shareholder meeting, an event which is reigniting the flames of outrage over the incident as well as questions about the oil giant’s reputation.


BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg made it clear to the assembly that BP still has its work cut out to restore some semblance of its pre-oil catastrophe reputation. CEO Bob Dudley, a native of the Gulf region, is optimistic about the company’s image. However, others, such as major investors Florida State Board of Administration and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, are sending a vote of no confidence to BP’s management.

Unfortunately for BP, the facts speak for themselves: the company’s shares are down 28 percent, and with recent controversies over their partnership with Russian oil company Rosneft, the end of BP’s bad luck is nowhere in sight.

BP spent upwards of $90m on PR after the spill last year, a campaign that was hard-pressed to affect public opinion in the long run. Now, the company is banking on new oil explorations to boost shareholder confidence, but the question remains: can the British oil giant ever make amends for its massive failure in the wake of Deepwater Horizon? Will the public ever look at BP and not think: oil catastrophe?

Meanwhile, competitor Shell is enjoying high confidence, as evidenced by a recent study which found that 52.1% of the Dutch company’s market capitalization was due in part to its favorable corporate reputation: the highest of those surveyed.

Evidently, BP’s reputation woes haven’t carried over to the industry as a whole – it was BP’s handling of the issue, not just the oil spill itself, which has helped secure a most disreputable positioning for British Petroleum.

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