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BP is an international oil and gas company with its headquarters in London, United Kingdom. Based on revenues, BP Plc., as it is registered, is the third largest energy company and fourth largest company globally. BP is among the six Oil and Gas "super majors." BP is active in all spheres of the Oil and Gas business taking part in exploration, production, refining, circulation and selling, trading, power generation, and petrochemicals. BP is also involved in major renewable energy generation such as bio-fuels, solar, hydrogen and wind power.
In recent times, after being responsible for millions of gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has taken steps to improve its image. Its emblem, a flowery pallid helix, displays earthy kindness, whereas the company's initials present the catchphrase, "Beyond Petroleum," articulates its wish to branch out into the more sustainable cleaner energy. However, the magnitude of the spill alongside the apparent incapacity of the government to curb the spill on its own has manifested the control and power that the Big Oil company still holds over national politics and the destiny of the communities that reside in its shade.
Historically, BP has always held such powerful influence. Its history is anchored in power and controversy. William Knox D'Arcy, Australian-British mining mogul, was awarded a concession by Persia (present-day Iran) to explore for oil in the Persian jagged, dry southwest. Seven years later on, nearly about to throw in the towel, D'Arcy's company struck it rich on top of a sulfurous zone close to the place where the armies of Alexander the Great had allegedly one time seen the lights of black liquid fires blazing upon the earth. An Anglo-Persian Oil Company was born out of this breakthrough and assumed control of the then greatest oil discovery. The British government turned out to be the company's main stakeholder on the eve of World War I after the enthusiastic pushing of Winston Churchill, who was at the time the leader of the British navy. Churchill saw in Persian oil wells an unlimited supply of fuel for the modernizing British navy fleet. By the end of the Great War's, according to BP's own website, "war without oil would be unimaginable."
The company made very impressive returns through the 1920s and1930s as the majority of nations in the Western world moved in the direction of a world energized by petroleum-burning power generating plants and moved along in petroleum-burning vehicles. In 1935, the company was rebranded as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) after the new Tehran leadership decided to change the seemingly ancient nation's name "Persia." The company ran the then world's biggest refinery close to the city of Abadan. More than two hundred thousand Iranian workers labored in blistering temperatures and frequently hopeless conditions. Observers narrated the discrimination against the Iranian workers who were housed in a wobbly slum called Kaghazabad, or "Paper City," contrasted with the British officials who supervised them from air-conditioned bureaus and lived in villas with manicured lawns. Water sources were labeled "Not for Iranians."
Throughout the Second World War, the company's processing plants unrelentingly fed the Joint army battle machines in complete disregard to the food scarcity and a cholera outbreak among its own workers.
Many Iranians were unhappy with AIOC's presence. In 1951, the Iranian democratically voted Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, chose to make public AIOC ownership. This takeover threw the world into a catastrophe. An important pipeline was closed off as the United Kingdom and the United States embargoed Iran and lobbied other European expatriates from taking the position of the British ones who had been sacked. The TIME magazine made Mossadegh Man of the Year in 1951, portraying him, rather meanly, as a "strange old wizard" who is leading a miserable, far-flung nation into the control of the Communists. Eventually, U.S. suspicions of Soviet control, and the British longing to get back their oil, inspired an allied CIA and British intelligence operation called "Operation Ajax." It overthrew Mossadegh in a secretly coordinated 1953 coup and ultimately handed over Iran back to the pro-Western Shah, who assumed dictatorial powers.
A year after the coup, in an effort to move away from its image as a venture with colonial tendencies, AIOC rebranded itself the British Petroleum Company. However, the die was already cast in the Middle East: upcoming generations of Iranians would keep in mind an intrusive West, self-serving and thirsting for oil. BP's controversial heritage took the center stage in the political debates of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which drove out the Shah and made way for the Islamic State. BP's oil interests in other places in the Middle East were greatly affected by the nationalization ideas of Arab states. In 1975, BP moved 140 million tons of oil from the Middle East only to manage five hundred thousand tons eight years later.
By 1977, BP had commenced the pumping of oil from fields in the Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska by a 1,200 km-long pipeline running to refineries in south Alaska. This venture was one of the biggest network undertakings ever tried in North America. BP took pleasure from the self-declared environmental sensitivity of its setting up, which integrated raised platforms in some areas to avoid hampering the natural passage of caribou. After identifying the need to branch out, BP put together a complex of new holdings, which included offshore rigs deep in the North Sea, close to the United Kingdom and Papua in eastern Indonesia. After the British government sold off its stake in the BP, the company initiated the acquisition of a considerable presence in the American market in the 1980s and 1990s, taking over companies such as Amoco, the Standard Oil of Ohio, and ARCO. After the 1998, BP merger with Amoco the company renamed BP Amoco plc. Next BP Amoco plc took over Arco in 2000 alongside Burmah Castrol plc. In 2001, BP Amoco plc officially rebranded formally as BP plc (Bamberg, 2000) and assumed the catchphrase "Beyond Petroleum," which is used at present. The company denies that BP was ever intended to be an acronym of its catchphrase.
Despite these rebranding efforts, BPs North American record is most remembered for its accidents. A 2005, blast in a BP refinery in Texas killed fifteen employees. The year 2006, saw more than two hundred and fifty thousand gallons of oil spilled through corroded segments of the BP pipeline in Alaska over the North Slope. This led to a partial closedown of BPs' Prudhoe Bay plant and an expensive cleanup. In the two occasions, it was claimed that cost-cutting actions introduced by the BP executives had occasioned bad maintenance. The year 2010 witnessed the worst spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill or the BP Oil Spill) was resulted from a blast on the Deepwater Horizon sea-floor oil plant on 20 April 2010. The majority of the 126 workers on the plant were securely withdrawn. The blast killed 11 employees on the plant and wounded 17 more. (Welch and Joyner, 2010)
2.0 BP's Website
This section is going to present BP's website as it has been displayed between 10 and 20 March 2011, a year after the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill crisis. The procedure that will be implemented for this section will be to utilize vital concepts that relate to communication strategy and website design, specifically, multi-modality, framing, concept clusters, and a content analysis based on the Ashridge Mission Model.
According to Planken, Waller, and Nickerson (2007), 'concept clusters,' are the recurring ideas that are employed to produce the image and perception of an organization, for instance, leadership, excellence, and global perspective among others. The website assert that BP is "one of the 'world's' largest energy companies." Further, it also asserts, "we've invested more than $80 billion to develop a 'global' energy mix," and "we operate across 'six continents' â€¦ 'over a 100 countriesâ€¦'The website employs these phrases and words that have a common and below the surface semantic element so as to portray the company as having a global aspect. The company wants to be seen as a global company rather than a company based on a particular geographical location. Other semantically related words and phrases in the website include 'oil,' 'energy,' 'power,' 'gas,' and 'fuel.' These are employed to portray the company as an energy and energy producing Company.
'Framing,' refers to the technique where communication takes advantage of prior understanding, setting and knowledge of the audience to sway their identification of the company in a particular manner. Framing is a terminology used in media, sociology, and psychology, to denote the social conception of a social phenomenon by media sources or a certain organization. It is a calculated development of discriminatory sway over the individual's perception of the connotation and denotation attributed to words, phrases, or images. A frame is the packaging of a feature of rhetoric so that to persuade particular construal and to stifle others.
The use of green imagery on the website is an example of use of framing. The majority of the font appears in different shades of color green. Green is the term popularly used in the modern world to denote environmental awareness. A product that conserves or purports to conserve or protect the environment is labeled green. We have green energy sources, an assortment of green machines; green organizations etc. the heavy presence of color green in the website is an attempt at tapping this prior knowledge in the minds of the modern man so as to influence the his view and see BP as environmentally conscious and responsible. The Gulf of Mexico response section is colored red to influence the audience to see that BP sees the spill as the danger it certainly was. This is because red is associated with danger all over the world. This use of the framing in BP's website is very successful since framing in essence is a psychological shortcut. According to De Martino, Kumaran, Seymour, and Dolan (2006), human beings are intrinsically "cognitive misers," which means they like doing as little thinking as they could. Frames offer the audience a swift and simple method of processing information. The visitors of the BP website will use the aforementioned mental filters (that green stands for environmental consciousness and responsibility and red for danger) to decode the message that BP is sending out. The BP Logo resembles a flower and this too as an example of the use of framing by the company. This Method affords BP huge power to utilize mental filters to control how the audience perceives the giant company.
The BP website employs Multi-modality largely. Multi-modality flawlessly combines text, graphics, and audio output to produce a vividly superior audience experience. When contrasted with a single-mode of communication (where the audience can only benefit from only text, graphics, visual, or audio modes) a multi-modal communication offers the audience many options for receiving information and offers the sender numerous methods of communicating effectively. In the BP website, the company employs texts, graphics, pictures, and video to communicate. The company shows still and motion pictures to compliment the text in the website and balances the three modes effectively. The use of a variety of modes such as colour, text, still and motion pictures can be seen all over the website and is very effective for vividly enhanced audience experience. On the tab that deals with BP's response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill the company uses three modes to show their response. They use still images, videos, as well as text to portray how they reacted to the disaster or rather how BP would want the audience to believe they responded to the situation. The text is used to explain the response while the video and still picture are utilized to provide evidence of what the text claims. There is a whole section dedicated to response in pictures and another section on response on video. The text section is complimented by still images.
According to the Ashridge Mission Model, a company's communication should contain the following four elements that should be linked cohesively together, echoing and emphasizing each other to generate a strong Mission. It should contain a Purpose. I.e. how the company profits of the investors and how it satisfies a high ideal i.e. surpassing simply fulfilling the wishes of its stakeholders. A communication should also contain a strategy. This is the business sense for the company. It links purpose to actions in a commercial and rational approach. Lastly, the communication should show the company values i.e. the viewpoint and moral ethics that form the basis of the company's culture. In the BPs website, there is a full section dedicated to the company's strategy. In this section, there is a strategy archive as well as an update on the changes the company makes on the strategy. Through the section on Socially Responsible Investment, the company beautifully links it strategy to its higher ideals. The website claims to "help the world meet its growing need for heat, light, and mobility by providing sustainable, secure, diverse, and reliable energy solutions. We are committed to creating value through responsible performance, protecting our environment and the communities in which we operate." The website also contains information on how the company profits the investors. Though the information on strategy and purpose is not present in a concise and simple manner, it is nevertheless present. The website also presents a section dedicated to the BPs values. The 'our values' section list the BPs values among them responsibility, innovation, progressiveness and performance. The website also mentions that one of its core values.
It is also important to look into the BPs website design layout. As the audience reads the sections of the website, he or she has to negotiate through hyperlinks to other details and information on the website. The 'navigational,' function of the website can influence how the audience easily finds important information on a site. The hyperlinks are designs in such a manner that the audience is required to employ two modes when accessing information from the BP website, i.e. reading and navigating. The links not only allow the visitors of the site to access interconnected or complementary information but also establishes links and associations within the visitor mind and hence provide a semantically significant utility. That is, they help in constructing a particular meaning thus determining audience response to the school. They were asked to pay attention to the number of clicks it takes to reach a particular body of information since this is a crucial factor in establishing links of meaning. However, the site has very many hyperlinks and this may lead to the many paths confusing the site visitor instead of helping him or her understand better the information that is being passed.
The site also contains links to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and an RSS feed. The site also contains link that leads the visitor to contacts for different regional and country head offices. The site has a career section for its different branches. It also is equipped with a search box to aid the visitor in searching for any information he or she may be interested in within the site.
3.0 BP's Website Sections Overview
BP's website is divided into several section; namely, About BP, Products and services, Environment and society, Investors, Press and the Careers section. These sections are set on tabs running horizontally on the website home page.
3.1 About BP
The "About BP" section on the website contains several sections too. The first section is 'BP at a glance', which is further sub-divided into 'Key facts and figures' and 'Key business addresses' sub sections. The next section under the "About BP" section is 'The Energy Mix.' Under this section, there are sub-sections detailing a list of energy sources utilized by BP. These include Oil, Natural Gas, Wind, Solar, and Bio-fuels. Additionally, this section consists of an 'Efficiency' section that addresses the issue of saving energy. This is an interactive section complete with explanations, tips, and trivia questions. The next section on the 'The Energy Mix.' is 'Energy Security.' This part in the site deals with means that the company is employing to broaden their energy sources to secure a reliable energy future. This section is also interactive and has a poll question for visitors. The next section is under the 'The Energy Mix' is 'Energy Diversity.' 'Energy Technology' and 'Partnerships in Energy' sub-section follow this sub-section. The third section under 'About BP' is 'Who we are.' This section contains details on the company's brands, history, and its organization each under an appropriately named hyperlink. The section also has a sub-section on the 'Board and executive management.' The forth section is the 'What we do' section. Here a list of BP activities and responsibilities is listed. These includes Finding, Extracting and Moving oil and gas, Making and Selling fuels and products, Generating low carbon energy and Working responsibly. The following section under 'About BP' is 'Where we operate' that informs the audience of its global network. The sixth section titled 'How we run the business' contains the details about BP brands and brand values, 'The Helios awards' and the company's Code of conduct. Under 'About BP' is a 'BP and technology.' The last section a section named 'London 2012' that is dedicated to informing the audience that BP will be sponsoring the 2012 London Olympic Games.
3.2 Products and Services
The second section on the website communicates the products and services offered by BP. The section, named 'Products and services' has links to each section regarding each country of its operations and the product and services if offers in that country.
3.3 Environment and Society
The next section on the website is 'Environment and society.' This section contains sub-sub-sections namely, 'BP and sustainability,' 'How we operate,' 'Energy challenges and climate change,' 'Alternative energy,' 'BP Energy Lab,' 'Safety,' 'Environmental management,' 'Our people,' 'Development and community' and 'Maps and tools.' This section will be looked at more deeply in the next section.
The third section 'Investors' contains information such as strategy update and archive, BPs strategic partnerships and alliances, investor briefing, news on mergers and acquisitions and major projects under the link strategies. This section also has a link 'Results and reporting' under which are Trading conditions update, Quarterly results, Annual and quarterly F&OI. The section also has under it the link 'Annual Reporting' with the CEOs and chairperson's annual letters alongside the Directors' remuneration report summary and Downloads. 'Strategies' also has a link to the company's fiscal calendar, Regulatory news service and filings and Share information. It has hyperlinks to details on AGMs, Shareholder services, Governance issues, Socially Responsible Investment, Investor tools, and Investor Relations contacts.
The Press section on the website is the tab where visitors to the site can browse through BP's latest press releases, speeches, and feature articles. This section also contains Images and graphics together with the Press contacts sub-section.
The next section on the BP website is the Careers section. This section has information concerning Fair processing, System requirements, Previous employment at BP, Recruitment process FAQs, the reason one should work at BP, challenges of working at BP, BP's role, the prospective employees role and the general overview of the BP work force. The section also presents the experiences of working at BP, how to look out for opportunities and the process of application and the frequently asked questions (FAQs). This section has information on BPs Recruitment agencies, Anti-corruption policy, the reason it is a good time to join BP and BPs Crisis/incident response.
3.7 Gulf of Mexico oil response
The website also has a section devoted to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response. This section will be looked at more deeply in the next section.
4.0 BP Corporate Social Responsibility
After the 1998 acquisition of Amoco, BP's CEO, Sir Lloyd Brown, launched a novel vision for BP that players thought was a contradictory message. At a period when empirical and scientific proof of global warming was absent and carbon laws were not imposed, Sir Brown choose to rebrand BP with a corporate social responsibility message that other players in the oil or energy company would never dare to, to "Go Green". This tossed out the British Petroleum shield that had been a well-known icon in the UK for more than seven decades. This move introduced a green, white, and yellow sunburst that appeared to hint an affectionate and fuzzy emotion about the earth. BP communication officers were cautious not to clarify precisely what 'Beyond Petroleum' stood for, but the catchphrase, together with the happy sunburst, gave out the message that BP was looking past oil and gas headed for a kind, environmentally friendly prospect of solar and clean renewable energy (Frey, 2002). The catchphrase, symbol, abridged brand name, and corporate social responsibility message developed into a message that the environmentalists could rejoice, or so it was imagined.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the thorough concern on which an institute exceeds the least required responsibilities to stakeholders. Corporate social responsibility CSR practices demand that a company be held responsible for any of the actions that impinge on their people, their societies, and their milieu. It demands that negative business effects on persons, society, and the environment ought to be recognized and corrected if correcting is possible. CSR may from time to time call for a company to give up some income if its social effects are critically injurious. CSR is the scale of liability apparent in a company's strategies and working practices as they affect stakeholders and the environment daily. The following two sections in the BP website better illustrate the CSR activities of BP or the corporate social responsibility activities BP want to believe they undertake.
4.1 Environment and Society
In the 'Environment and society' society, there is a sub-section named 'BP and sustainability.' This section contains information on the BP's sustainability reporting and covers each of the non-fiscal facets of its operation, namely, health and security; environment and energy; people and human rights. Some people argue that sustainability in the oil industry is contradictory but BP goes a step ahead to define the term. According to the BPs website, its sustainability means the capability to endure as a group, by renewing resources, coming up with and delivering superior products and services that satisfy the changing desires of the society. To BP sustainability is drawing succeeding generations of employees alongside the contribution to a sustainable milieu. BP construes sustainability as the capacity to retain the trust and sustenance of its clients, players and the society in which the company function. Information on sustainability reporting on this section includes the group chief executive's 2009 review, the BP in 2009, the BP in figures. This section also contains a sub-division on the BPs Values. These values include an endeavor to become great organization, which is competitively flourishing, and a power for growth. Another value for BP is the deep-seated belief that they can make a difference in the world. The company values to aid the world meet its rising need for warmth, illumination, and mobility. This sub-division on values also enumerates BP's core values as progressiveness, taking responsibility, innovativeness, and performance driven.
Another sub-section in the environment and society section is the 'strategy' section. In this section, the website has a clear statement of its strategy. The website cites BP's strategy as to generate value for shareholders by creating energy in a mode that is inexpensive, secure and a mode that does not pollute the environment. The next sub-section on this section is the 'Reporting process and assurance.' In the sub-section, BP reports on its environmental and social activities, with lucid method and substantiation by both the in-house and exterior sources. This section also has a hyperlink on a Case studies library.
The next major sub-section in the 'Environment and society' is the 'How we operate' section. This section explains how the BP's systems of governance and management are designed to help the oil giant conduct its business responsibly. The sub-section shows a hold up for international norms for wellbeing, human rights, and security. This sub-section is sub divided further. The governance hyperlink leads to an explanation on BPS internal control system, from board-level plan to operational process. The second sub-division, 'Operating management system' deals with BPs strategy for attaining secure, dependable, and accountable operations. The third sub-division is the Human rights link. BP is devoted to respecting human rights in line with their professed support for the worldwide Declaration of Human Rights and this section describes how the oil company guarantees human rights to its workers and those of its partners. The section also has a subsection 'Dialogue and engagement' whose link leads us to a section on how BP communicates with its partners so as learn and be able to know to develop their business. These partners may include local communities, advisors, shareholders, suppliers, employees, customers, NGOs, governments etc. the last sub-division on how BP operates is 'Security and continuity.' In this section, the website explains how BP strategy endeavors to offer a secure work atmosphere for all the members of the staff.
The next subsection under the section 'Environment and society' is 'Energy challenges and climate change.' In this section, the website carries information on how the company meets the modern energy demand at the same time trying to avoid damaging climatic changes and facilitate economic development. This section has another sub-division, which concerns itself with how to meet the modern challenge. This section has a subdivision that gives information on how BP employs innovative fresh technology to remain competitive and develop its news in different ways.
The next subsection under the section 'Environment and society' is used to present information on how BP has for a long time advocated for taken steps to address the issue of climatic change. Under "Environment and society" in BP's website, there is the sub-section "Alternative energy." This section gives information on how BP is taking part in the emergent low-carbon energy segment by using technologies that they deem to be able to build into considerable lasting businesses. Subdivisions on this section include, our low-carbon businesses,' 'bio-fuels,' 'wind power,' 'solar power,' 'Carbon capture and storage' and 'Case studies.'
BP Energy Lab is a subsection that is dedicated to urging people to save energy by using it more efficiently. The next most major subsection under the section 'Environment and society' is the 'Safety' section. This section is dedicated to explaining how BP ensures Safe and reliable operations. 'Environmental management' is a section that appears under the section 'Environment and society.' This is a section dedicated to expound on how BP allegedly strives to reduce the effects of its activities on the environmental by using management systems and standards alongside the use of inventive machinery in its undertakings. Under this section there are various sub-divisions.
The section named 'Our people' under 'Environment and society' is utilized to shed light on the human resource environment in BP. This section explains how BP organizes its workforce for efficiency, how it creates and sustains talent pipeline, how it develops its leaders, grows their skills, rewards them and ensures Compliance and ethics. Finally, in the 'Environment and society' section there is a subsection labeled 'Development and community.' Generally, this section tackles how the company attempts to make a positive difference in the societies in which it operate through partnerships in which it endeavors to create shared benefits. It has several subsections, namely, 'Our approach,' 'Building business skills,' 'Supporting education and other community needs,' 'Sharing technical expertise with local government,' and 'Giving and volunteering.'
4.2 The Gulf of Mexico Response
In this section of the BP website, the company cleverly attempts to turn around a disaster they are responsible for to look like a CSR activity. A person who does not know of the Gulf of Mexico spill will be left thinking that BP was just helping to clean up the mess while in real sense the company's irresponsibility. A statement claims that the company has taken "responsibility for the cleaning" in the Gulf while the correct statement would have been "responsibility for the spill." This section, like the rest of the sections is divided into subsections and some of the subsections are further subdivided. The first subsection in this section is the 'Response overview.' This subsection is divided into sealing the well, clean up, beaches, wildlife, environmental restoration, and economic investments. These sections explain the steps that were taken at each step by the company to clean up the mess.
The second subsection is the 'Response timeline.' This section recounts what the company was doing chronologically. The next section shows the company workers responding to the disaster in pictures fooled by response in video. The subsequent section presents the maps of the response areas. This section is followed by the claims section. The claims section is an explanation of the compensations the company paid out to the government and private citizens for the spill. The next 'Supporting materials.' section is divided into Deepwater Horizon Containment and Response, Dispersant Information, Monitoring and sampling information, Waste management, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Then next is the contact section where the visitors of the site are provided with the contacts where they can get all the details concerning the spill. Lastly, on the Gulf of Mexico response section is a subsection on 'BP internal investigation.' In this section, BP attempts to offer an explanation or to shed light on the events that led to the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010.
CSR deals with all dimensions of corporate governance. It is concerned with the process with which companies carry out their business in an ethical manner, considering their impact economically, socially, environmentally and in terms of human rights. This approach goes beyond traditional business stakeholders such as shareholders or local suppliers. CSR includes social partners such as local communities, and global responsibilities such as protecting the environment and ensuring good labor standards in supplying companies. CSR also embrace relationships within the organization (employees) and externally i.e. with customers. It involves having good working relationship with partners and other organizations or groups. CSR is a form of strategic administration, encouraging the organization to scrutinize the future and the present, and contemplate how its relationships will add to the long-term to its bottom line in a constantly shifting world.
There is a connection between the way BP communicate CSR on the web and the Oil Spill. For starters, a visitor would be forgiven to think that the only CSR activities carried out by the company was remedying the spill effects.