Why You Should NOT Boycott BP Oil

I know it seems like I’m crazy.  The most obvious thing to do is to boycott a company that has caused insurmountable harm to the lives of Americans and to our environments.  But, our gut reaction isn’t always the best one to choose.  It’s actually, very often, the worst one to choose.  Our “gut” reactions are usually the Fight part of “fight or flight,” and most often overcompensates  our overwhelming anger with ridiculously exaggerated (and not well thought out) reactions.

Let me explain.  BP is obviously negligent.  Even if the reports and eye witness testimonies that came out pointing to the facts and circumstances of their disgusting ignorance hadn’t arisen on their own, BP’s own actions tell the truth.  They are donating billions to victims, billions to clean-up efforts, and gushing public apologies at the rate of the oil leak itself!  If that’s not an admission of guilt, I don’t know what is.  They know they screwed up royally, and can only hope to stem the public, worldwide backlash as quickly as they can stop that underwater geyser of poison leaking in the Gulf.

Okay, now that we’ve got that part of blame out of the way, let’s clarify.  The local BP gas station that so many people would like to stop giving money to is not owned by BP.  It is a “BP branded” gas station.  That means, much the same as your local Dunkin’ Donuts, it is a franchise.  It is, most often, a locally owned gas station/quickie-mart/service-station that pays monthly for the privilege to sport a nice, big BP sign in the parking lot.

When you boycott your local business, you hurt local business people.  I understand that even local franchises can be owned by huge companies, so don’t even go there.  Yes, they can be.  But, I can assure you, BP Oil does not own, operate, or care in the least if you get your gas at the local BP gas station.  It doesn’t affect them at all. And, even if everyone in America stopped buying BP gas station gas, it wouldn’t matter anyway, even if they owned 100% of the stations.

Here’s why.  BP, and every other petroleum  company isn’t in the business of filling your car with gasoline.  They are in the business of harvesting crude oil.  That means that there a thousands of things that petroleum is used in the production of, and gasoline happens to account for a minority of it.  As far as alternative energy goes, last time I checked, you can’t make plastic out of solar energy or a windmill.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to find alternatives, too, but it’s going to take a lot more to lose dependency on oil than manufacturing electric cars.  But besides all of that, here’s where it really gets tricky.

Most people imagine that modern industry is just like it was hundreds of years ago.  An oil company harvest oil, sends it to its refineries, then ships it in their trucks to their own gas stations to dispense their own, company-branded gasoline into your vehicle.  That’s simple-minded insanity.  That’s the same thinking that would lead you to believe (and god help you if you do) that Starbucks has employees in Columbia that grow trees, harvest and roast beans, then has their own freighters to load crates of coffee beans to ship to ports in America, where more Starbucks employees bag and package their own beans to be sent to their locations all around the country, so that when you drink Starbucks coffee, it’s through and through a company manufactured product.

another happy Starbucks employee

I’ve got news for you.  Almost everything you purchase these days isn’t designed, manufactured, made or marketed by the person who sells it to you.  Brand names are just that…names.  Slap a recognizable logo on anything and it becomes that company’s product.  Do you really think McDonald’s is in the slaughterhouse business?  Do you really think Home Depot is in the lumbering business?  Do you really think Shop Rite is in the farming industry?  Then why on Earth would you assume your local gas station is in the petroleum mining business?

A bit of research will tell you that BP mined oil loses it’s “identity” as soon as it’s off loaded into the pipelines that crisscross our northern hemisphere.  Once crude oil is harvested, either from terrestrial or oceanic sources, it is directed by tankers  to local refineries via huge intake pipelines.  Once refined into a product, it is pumped into pipelines in “batches” where it flows around the country back to back with all kinds of other petroleum products.  When a “batch” of regular grade gasoline is pipe into a major pipeline vein, many different companies may contribute to that batch.

Once a company contributes a certain volume of refined product into a pipeline, it has a credit to withdraw the same amount of that product out of that pipeline at a later date in a different location.  However, it doesn’t necessarily have to withdraw it’s own product.  In fact, if it would like to immediately withdraw product on the other end of the pipeline, a company can do so by paying a slightly higher premium for immediate withdraw.  In addition, it’s product is no longer distinguishable from another company’s product because they’ve all been mixed in the batch.

The fact is that once petroleum products are refined into their many uses, it becomes a commodity to be traded, not a product to be sold by an individual.  There is no guarantee that the gasoline at a local BP station was ever mined and refined by BP themselves.  It’s likely a mixture of product that came from many different sources and refineries.

And, even if it was, you can’t boycott that company to any degree anyway.  If you stop buying their gasoline, they’ll just start refining jet fuel, diesel and petrochemicals for plastics.  If you want to truly boycott BP, you’ll need to stop buying almost every product in your life.  They’re all flown, driven and made using the oil that BP, Exxon, Shell, and all the others collectively harvest.

So, don’t boycott BP Oil.  It will make no difference.  If you want to feel all fuzzy inside like your somehow saving the environment, ride your bike to work and boycott every gas station.  Just don’t forget that BP had a hand in making those rubber bike tires and inner tubes, the grease on that chain, the paint on that frame, the rubber in those handle grips, the plastic on the brake lines, the plastic reflectors, the pedals, the rubber on the brakes…well, you get the idea.  Get used to riding that bike, too, cause shortly, you won’t be able to swim in the ocean any longer.

Have a great Summer!

One Response to “Why You Should NOT Boycott BP Oil”

  1. Great thoughts, loved it…

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