Carl-Henric Svanberg on "natural oil"

Carl-Henric Svanberg had been chairman of British Petroleum only for a couple of months, when he and his company got huge headlines after the explosion of the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent enormous oil spill.

In June, he met with President Obama. Talking to the amassed media afterwards, he explained that he and his company really, really cared about "the small people". What he really meant was "the common people", and he apologized for the "slip in translation" afterwards (or whatever it was, read a linguists comment); however, it does sound nearly as patronizing and silly in Swedish.

In the Swedish news programme Agenda on December 12, 2010, he described the events. In a calm studio environment, only he and a single, non-aggressive journalist, and in his own language. Here's one memorable quote:

For millions of years, there have been a leakage in the Gulf on 4-5000 barrels a day, which have created an ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the oil. You have to remember that oil is vegetation a hundred million years ago. It's not poison, it's a natural part of the world.

That "natural" is never harmful, and harmful never "natural", is of course a misconception he shares with a lot of people, many of which might have some problems with his rosy oil-based ecology. (There are indeed bacteria that live on aromatic hydrocarbons, and they do have a significant effect, though an oil spill that amounts to about 5 million barrels will still cause a good deal of trouble.)

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