by Abe Sauer
In January, BP’s stock price was hovering above $60 a share. This is when all of America was focused on rebuilding Haiti. (That went well.) Even BP got into the charitable spirit. At the time, the oil behemoth was getting set to drill a new well at its Deepwater Horizon site, even though at the time BP knew the well to be dangerously high-pressured. While Anderson Cooper leaped into action to single-handedly save Haitian children, BP announced the conclusion to a successful cleanup of its Alaska pipeline leak. BP’s market value surpassed rival Royal Dutch Shell. BP was about to be named an official partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Teams. The brand’s biggest problem? Some joker leaving lynching nooses around their Texas City facility. The oil business was good.
Then April, five days after the Annual General Meeting where Tony Hayward bragged about BP’s deepest well ever in the Gulf of Mexico and that “Our priorities-which lie at the heart of all our operations-remain safety, people and performance,” and a day after Reyad Fezzani, CEO of BP Solar, opened a speech to a Stanford University audience with “It is a pleasure to be here. I apologize to those of you who expect oilmen to look like Daniel-Day Lewis. This is about as rough as I get” and boasted that “exploration in the Gulf began in the early 1930s. It took the industry 40 years to develop the technology to move from the shoreline to 1,000 feet water depth. It took just 12 years to move from 1,000 feet to 5,000 feet. Last September, we discovered a giant field 35,000 feet beneath the sea, and in so doing set a new world record….”
Six months after those blissful days, BP’s share price is halved. It closed on June 23 under $30. Tony Hayward wanted his life back, and apparently, is going to get it. The company has been “shaken down,” so far, for $20 billion. Worse, BP is now a political pariah, its acce$$ restricted to only the most shameless (i.e., certain for reelection) politicians. Sure, that’s $3.5 million in cash (over 20 years) the company will save in political donations going forward but, oh, the influence. BP has become such an albatross that politicians are giving donations back. Even Republicans! Hell, Joe “Shakedown” Barton himself returned a $1,000 check from BP’s PAC. Whether or not BP will get its $77,051 back from Barack Obama remains to be seen.
And, no joke, the down-and-out oil company is now being literally struck by lightning.
Maybe the only glimmer of good news? The International Olympic Committee has said BP is a “partner to stay” for the 2012 Games. In light of the company’s $58 million commitment (in the face of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s recent $39.5 million funding cut), they’re happy to say that “BP is a world-class company.”
So, will BP go BankruPt? The online bookies at Sportsbook Gurus are giving 4 to 1 that BP will file for bankruptcy before the end of 2010.
But we want to get more specific.
The Awl has obtained, at Wednesday’s market price of $29.67, one shiny paper share of BP, which will entitle one lucky reader to all shareholder benefits, privileges and responsibilities, including dividends, the right to attend shareholder meetings, annual reports, and, of course, company voting rights. All you have to do is guess what BP’s stock price is at the closing bell before markets stop trading on Christmas Eve, 2010. The closest guess (to the cent), without going over, wins.
[Further disclosures: Multiple guesses will be disqualified. In the case of a tie, the first entry received will win. No entries will be accepted after June 30th, 2010.]
Mount a recall of the CEO, hang the stock on your ironic Williamsburg loft wall, use it to light a cigar to celebrate the end of the War in Afghanistan or the end of Harry Reid’s career. Yes, one of you can be part of the problem, and, as a stockholder, part of the solution.
When making your guess, keep in mind the nation’s abysmal consumer action record. Also, six months is a long time for America to sustain outrage and/or focus. Christmas, if it even exists anymore in six months, is a full World Series and mid-term election away. The Summer of Death 2 is just beginning. The new commander of both our wars is fainting after recently undergoing chemotherapy. The Brett Favre media tour has not even started yet. Plus, the economy is booming, and we need gas. The new Mustang may get 31 miles per gallon, but not at 95 miles an hour, the only real American way to drive a Mustang.
Finally, those holding BP financially accountable will be the same players who were willingly bested by corporate health-care interests and who folded, repeatedly, to Wall Street.
Remember, we’re only six months removed from Haiti, the disaster that seemed impossible to fade into the next big thing. And yet….
Abe Sauer really just can’t wait till Christmas!
Offer void where prohibited by law, etc.