"Crime Scene": Oil Industry Vultures Pick Over Alaska
Continued from previous page
The September 9 pipeline explosion meant the stakes were getting higher. To protect himself and his own career, Pig Man #2 ratted out Pig Man #1.
“I was threatened,” Pig Man #1 repeated on tape, speaking calmly now, with a resignation to the consequences. “A person can be—can be made silent, can be made bankrupt by this power that they hold. Any person that speaks out against the pipeline companies puts a lot at risk, puts a lot . . .”
He trailed off, talking about what could befall “someone.” Needless to say, the “someone” was him.
My only justification for printing and filming his story, and jeopardizing this good man further, beyond the feeble thread of “the public interest,” is that I can offer Pig Man a bit of protection. Dear Pig Man employer: I have a much bigger file than I am spilling here. Any company that dares to go after Pig Man #1 will have much to lose. Capisce? If Pig Man is touched: I know who you are, I know where you operate, and I know what you’ve done.
You notice I have not named BP’s software provider—because it’s not about a bad apple, it’s about an industry rotten from branch to root.
And BP itself? They have plausible deniability. The oil giant could say, like Mr. Gambino, “I didn’t know that Big Louie off’d Jimmy the Skunk.”
But deniability isn’t plausible—because, as Holmes would say, “the dog didn’t bark.” When the pipe busted in 2006, why didn’t BP bark, bite, and sue its software designers? After all, the failure to find the corrosion problem cost the oil company tens of millions.
Here’s why: Because the software firm could turn around, “discover” their “accidental” error, and hand it to BP: The total cost of repairs and re- routes to the industry would run into tens of billions of dollars.
Or the software maker could ask BP when the pig was run. Was it run at all? Where’s the data? It costs a million dollars a mile to run a diagnostic pig test. Cheaper to keep them locked in that giant metal PIG-pen in Prudhoe, eh, BP?
Omerta, then, is the wise course both in The Mob and in the Oil Patch.
But now I was curious: Why Pig Man #1? Why now? How come he didn’t run away squealing in fear like Pig Man #2?
He sent the note that got us all hot after he read my story about BP’s Prudhoe pipe burst. Before that, he thought of the coding episode as a professional disagreement, the bottom-line guys stomping on the expert. But reading the Prudhoe story, he realized, that, “This stuff had real-world consequences.”
Before that, Pig Man #1 stayed schtum for years. Still, when I first approached him, he said “no way” to filming, even in shadow. Something then changed his mind, made him volunteer to put his ass on the line. It was the California pipeline blowup. The eight dead. It finally struck him: “People die.”
“I was very disconnected from the real impact that such work has on the general public and people. And so when seeing the explosion . . . it made a direct link between inaccuracies in software that result in death. . . .”
His corporate mask had slipped when the photo of the burnt houses hit the front pages.
all? Where’s the data? It costs a million dollars a mile to run a diagnostic pig test. Cheaper to keep them locked in that giant metal PIG-pen in Prudhoe, eh, BP?