Reputation Survey: BP - Ghost of Mexico still haunts BP

A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, BP's reputation shows no sign of recovering, with 50 per of the public having a more negative opinion of the firm.

Slick art: protest against BP
Slick art: protest against BP

One year on from the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the disaster is still taking its toll on BP's reputation, new research finds.

PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey of more than 2,000 members of the UK public found that 93 per cent said the oil spill had been damaging or very damaging to BP's reputation. But despite this, 86 per cent of respondents had not boycotted any BP products.

Fifty per cent said their opinion of the brand was more negative since the spill - the same number as when PRWeek asked the question a year ago.

Forty per cent did not believe BP had done enough to improve its reputation since then.

BP's involvement with the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad had not changed 72 per cent of respondents' opinion of the firm. In fact, 14 per cent said this had a negative impact on their opinion.

Fifty-one per cent believed the oil spill could happen again to BP, while 81 per cent thought it could happen again to another oil company.

In general, the disaster appears to have affected the public's perception of the oil sector as a whole.

Seventy per cent of respondents did not believe that any of the main oil companies operating in the UK were environmentally responsible.

In addition, 58 per cent could not offer an opinion as to which oil company had the best reputation.

Survey of 2,031 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll


The fallout from BP's disaster goes far beyond erosion of its operating credibility, share price and reputation. Many argued faults were particular to the Macondo blowout, but the entire industry felt the fallout. Eight out of ten respondents believed a similar incident could happen again.

Regulation fills the vacuum left by departing trust. That means greater risk from intervention, higher cost of capital, increased operating costs and living with greater scrutiny.

A brittle licence to operate begs a more systematic approach to managing risk by opening up operations and revealing science, engineering and experts.

To increase trust, you must first increase familiarity.

The world needs oil and natural resources companies. We want their products, but extraction is a hazardous business. The challenge is bringing people closer to the reality of what that actually means.

Big players will never be loved, but they can win credit for doing a difficult job as well as it can be done.


86% of respondents said they had not boycotted any BP products as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster


70% said oil companies were not taking enough responsibility for the environment


66% said the Government and the energy industry were not working hard enough on a solution to using fossil fuels

How has the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago affected your opinion of BP?

More positive 5

More negative 50

Not changed 45

In your opinion, how damaging was the oil spill to BP's reputation?

Not damaging 7.5

Damaging 49

Very damaging 43.5

How well do you think BP handled the crisis?

Very badly 9

Very well 7

Quite well 40

Badly 44.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in