Are the oil companies telling the truth?
By Tina Samuels
With the recent environmental tragedies around the world, from nuclear reactor leaks to the oil spill in the Gulf, how can people know if any companies are telling the truth when it comes to environmental awareness?
Oil companies are a major concern for most people when it comes to the eco-factor. The planet has suffered many environmental disasters; it is reasonable to expect that consumers want to know when there is a problem.
That said, oil companies claim to be speaking the truth when it comes to their commitment to environmental safety.
Let's examine what some have been saying and the facts behind those words.
BP, which is an integration of the British company British Petroleum and the American Amoco, was found responsible for the 2010 Gulf Oil spill.
This oil spill began with the sinking of the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon. After many trials and accusations, BP agreed to set up a $20 billion fund for victims of the spill.
More than $6 billion was paid out in claims, until July 2013 when BP attempted to have the payments frozen. This was because they claimed the law firm dispersing the settlements were profiting unfairly. A judge refused to stop the payments and said that he did not see the fraud claimed by BP.
BP has claimed they are committed to the environment, which their advertising for their commitment falls at an opportune time.
The Clean Water Act trial began in February 2013. By trying to show that the company is committed to an environmentally safe practice, the company may hope to spread a better view of the business before the second half of the important trial in 2013.
While most people know and remember the huge oil spill from the Exxon Valdez, there have been other disasters that were larger.
Countries that have much more lax rules and regulations concerning oil drilling or transport are more likely to have such problems. Large companies compile their own data and even though it is reviewed, that doesn't mean that the large companies always report everything.
Smaller companies are more likely to have better practices.
In fact, the small oil company Sunoco, based in Philadelphia, was the only oil company to sign on with the environmental Ceres principles, which includes standards for reporting. What Sunoco doesn't tell people is that they do not extract their own crude and cannot promise that the crude they secure was extracted in accordance with those Ceres principles.
One small company, based in New York, Hess, has been listed as one of the most trustworthy oil companies.
This listing was done by Forbes and takes in consideration how accurate the data is reported by the company and transparency of their practices. Hess has made efforts to power some of their own operations through renewable sources and plans to reduce flaring in the areas where they drill by 50 percent within the next five years.
No oil company can be totally environmentally friendly as oil itself and the use of it is seen by many as damaging to the environment.
Until the world can cut out its dependence on oil completely, people will need to trust oil companies to continue to reduce their own pollution and become more environmentally friendly.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on online reputation,social media, marketing, and small business topics.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.