Despite its success, size and profitability, BP is no stranger to controversy.
The Deep Horizon spill is certainly a massive challenge to the company, both financially and in terms of public relations, but it is not the first time BP has been in the international spotlight.
In 2006, a US congressional hearing accused BP of "unacceptable" neglect of pipelines in Alaska after it was forced to shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay because of leaking pipes.
In 2007, the company was fined a total of $373m by the US Department of Justice for environmental crimes and committing fraud.
The fine included $50m relating to a Texas refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 170 more.
The largest single fine of $303m related to a price manipulation scam in the propane market.
Last October, BP was fined a further $87m for failing to correct safety hazards at the Texas refinery.
The company has also faced harsh criticism, from shareholders and environmental campaigners, about its plans to develop oil sands in Canada.
The methods used to extract oil from these sands give rise to far more carbon emissions than even standard oil drilling, they argue.
To some in the US, therefore, the Deep Horizon spill feels all too much like a terrible deja vu.
Indeed, given its chequered recent history and experience of controversy, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Gulf oil spill is just how badly BP has handled the publicity surrounding it.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
BP and record fines