The story is a familiar one, a company executive leaves his laptop in an airport lounge and someone sells it on craigslist. But here the plot turns. The craigslist post was fond by Houston Chronicle reporter Aitor Mitrousers who contacted the seller only to discover the laptop was in a bidding war. The price had risen to $50,000 so the reporter made a quick deal and, with a few thousand dollars in hand, got the seller to copy the hard-drive prior to the sale. What he found amazed his editors.
The laptop was the property of BP’s environmental policy executive Alfonse Lickertwat and contained secret documents and emails linking the oil conglomerate to Sea Shepard, the rogue anti-whaling organization run by Captain Paul Watson. Why would BP become partners with Watson? A Lickertwat email to Watson might hold the clue:
“Look I know you hate us Paul but I also know you hate the Japanese more and we have one thing in common: we both hoe for publicity” said Lickertwat. “I suggest we align our goals and buy you more ships, more equipment and more airtime! We can also give you revenge!”
The first action by BP was to secure the purchase of the vessel now named “Bob Barker”. Lickertwat offered Watson a brand new ship but the offer was declined. “I want the F$@# vessel that stood by while I was rammed in Norway, I want to OWN that ship!” said Watson referring to the K/V Volstad Jr, a Norwegian Coast Guard ship that was on location when the Sea Shepherd vessel, the MY Whales Forever, was rammed, pursued and fired upon in international waters by the navy vessel K/V Andenes. “I then want the Andeses bought and sunk!” continued Watson.
Lickertwat secured the purchase of the K/V Volstad for Watson but, not willing to sink a navy vessel offered Watson a compromise. “We can’t sink her Paul, but we are willing to do ANYTHING to make this partnership happen. Just tell me your life dream and BP will make it come true.”
This is where the emails turn from merely illegal to absurd. Paul wrote, “I want to meet Bob Barker. The man’s my hero, he’s the inspiration for all that I do. Can BP make that happen?” to which Lickertwat responded “Absolutely Paul.”
A financial analysis of the documents find that BP purchased vessels and equipment to shift the political landscape of the environmental movement away from oil rigs. “Kumi Naidoo is a liability, you are better than him Paul. Help us take him down.” wrote Lickertwat referring to the leader of Greenpeace which Watson reffers to as a rogue organization. The result was millions of dollars shifted from BP entities to the coffers of Sea Shepard. Everything changed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and Al Lickertwat asked Watson for help. “Look Paul, we need attention diverted from this rig pronto! You need to play the fool Paul, the biggest fool in history, you need to make the media say ‘These BP fellows are foolish but this Watson guy is pure nuts.’”
A plan was then hatched for BP to rent c-130 airplanes and start transporting whales from Antarctica to the Gulf Waters. “You need security for these whales and we need media diversion. Fly your whales up here and we’ll protect them Paul, this oil stuff is harmless and your whales will be safe. I promise.”
Watson replied “You guys really screwed up here Al but, lucky for you, you didn’t kill any whales so you’re forgiven. This plan is brilliant, absolutely brilliant Al, but it will cost a billion dollars.” Lickertwat approved the plan and began securing the money while telling Watson “The funds will be transferred within a week just remember… we need you to be an eccentric fool here. The media loves soundbights and we need the world saying 'this guy is pure crazy”.
But, before the whales could be transferred, BP found it’s fool in an unexpected place. “Sorry Paul, all bets are off” Lickertwat wrote. “The position for the world’s biggest loon has been secured… we plan to hang Tony Hayward on that pole”. Paul agreed to help. “I thought about operation Airdroppings”, Watson said referring to plans to relocate the whales, “and if they are safe no-one will care about me anymore. Btu you still need my help, Tony is not nearly the fool I am so give me half the money and I’ll write few soundbights for Hayward’s press briefings”.
With Watson’s help, which included inviting Hayward to a sailing regatta during the spill, BP succeeded in making Hayward their scapegoat and for that service Sea Shepard was paid close to $500 million. “It worked brilliantly Paul, Hayward really put his foot in his mouth this time. He’ll be fired by the board and the world will forgive BP. The check is in the mail!”
BP and Sea Shepard denied request to be interviewed for this report.