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June 14, 2010

Cameron International: the silent brand in the BP oil-spill debacle

Posted on Mon Jun 14 2010

Cameron-BOP

Thanks to the (still out-of-control) oil spill sullying the Gulf of Mexico, a Google search under "BP" now yields 200 million hits. BP has, of course, become synonymous with this real-life ecological horror movie, and it's anyone's guess what the ultimate damage to its brand will be. (That's assuming it survives. Analyst Matt Simmons told the CNBC show Fast Money on June 8 that BP "is not going to last as a company more than a matter of months.") But while BP takes an hourly battering over the spill, one brand with nearly as much involvement in the incident has hardly been mentioned.
  That would be Cameron International, the Houston-based company that made the blowout preventer (BOP) that was supposed to seal the drill pipe on the ocean floor with hydraulically powered "shear rams" in the event of an emergency. News reports following the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig said that workers had tried to activate the BOP manually before abandoning the drilling rig, but to no avail. BOPs are very complicated, very expensive pieces of machinery (we found one for sale online for $7.3 million—used.) While a hearing last month determined that the BOP for the Deepwater Horizon had been "modified in unexpected ways" by BP prior to the accident, that might not clear Cameron of its share of responsibility for the disaster. (Cameron is named as a defendant in the shareholder suit filed on May 7 against BP, alleging in part that the BOP "failed to function properly.")
  Amid all this, Cameron corporate has been utterly silent on the issue. The press-release section of its Web site contains only three releases for all of 2010—one dealing with the award of a contract from Chevron and two announcing (you guessed it) quarterly earnings.

—Posted by Robert Klara

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