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Slideshow: A Tour of BP

BP bought the Texas City Refinery from AMOCO, a vestige of the old Standard Oil Company of Indiana, in 1998 as part of what was then the largest merger in corporate history. Buying AMOCO made BP huge, but the plant, built in 1934, was desperately in need of updating. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

At Texas City High School’s football field, the BP refinery’s flares and towers can be seen in the background. BP donates large sums to the school and to the city’s civic facilities. Its plant manager, Don Parus, was jokingly referred to as the town’s “second mayor.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Flames erupt from the BP AMOCO oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, after an explosion on March 23, 2005. (AP Photo/The Galveston County Daily News, Dwight Andrews)

John Browne, BP's former CEO, on May 1, 2007 in London.(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

BP's Texas City refinery is the third largest in the United States, capable of producing three percent of the nation’s gasoline. With more than 2,000 workers, it is also the largest employer in Texas City. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Before a 2005 blast killed 15 workers and injured 170, an internal BP report had said that workers at the Texas City plant had “an exceptional degree of fear.” One worker had died at the plant about every 18 months for the previous 30 years. In 2002, the company decided not to upgrade key safety equipment in order to save $150,000. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

David Senko managed a team for a BP contractor, Jacobs Engineering. He lost 11 members of his crew in the blast. “BP pleaded guilty to criminal charges,” he said. “But the company didn't commit any crimes, it's the people that work there that committed the crimes. There's been no accountability. Not a single person bottom to top has suffered any kind of consequence.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Eva Rowe was in a convenience store when she learned from news reports that both of her parents had been killed when the Texas City refinery exploded. The company sent her one letter, and a check for $25,000. “I want to extend our sincere condolences on the death of your loved one, James,” the letter stated. It made no mention of her mother, Linda. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

As a senior attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jeanne Pascal was assigned to work with BP in 1998 after the company’s first environmental crime conviction. Twelve years and three criminal plea bargains later, the EPA has not been able to reach an agreement with BP mandating tighter environmental safeguards and worker safety improvements. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

A former oilman, Chuck Hamel became an outspoken critic of BP in the early 1990s when whistleblowers on the North Slope began sending him confidential documents proving that the company wasn’t maintaining its facilities. He continues to collect thousands of internal BP documents. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

To stop Hamel's work, BP employed the Wackenhut security firm, staffed by former CIA and FBI operatives, to spy on him, in what famously became known as the Wackenhut scandal. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

The North Slope of Alaska stretches north out of the Brooks Range to the shore of the Arctic Ocean. It includes the Prudhoe Bay drilling field, the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska, and the National Arctic Wildlife refuge, where drilling is not currently allowed. BP produces the oil along with its partner, ConocoPhillips. ExxonMobil also owns an interest. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

BP’s “crown jewels” are its oil fields on Alaska's North Slope. Production there peaked in about 1998 and has been in decline ever since. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

At its peak, the Alyeska Pipeline, completed in 1977, ran some two million barrels of oil a day from the drilling fields more than 800 miles south to the shipping terminal in Valdez. It is owned by a joint venture but operated by BP. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

For at least a decade BP’s equipment and infrastructure in Alaska has been criticized for being outdated and poorly maintained. A 2001 internal report listed critical infrastructure in need of improvement. A 2007 follow-up said little progress had been made. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

In 2002 Don Shugak was inspecting a BP oil well when a bubble of gas escaped from a faulty casing and blew up in his face. Shugak broke many bones, was badly burned and spent weeks in a coma after being flown to a Seattle hospital. (Credit: Kendra Shugak)

BP blamed the accident on Shugak’s error, but it was later revealed that the company had covered up an investigation that found problems inside the well. Shugak, who now lives in Anchorage, signed an agreement never to talk about his accident in exchange for a settlement with the company. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Dan Seamount oversees five inspectors covering more than 3,000 active oil and gas wells on the North Slope. After the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the AOGCC strengthened some of its own regulations. But BP, he said, is working in an aging field: “The infrastructure needs to be maintained better,” he said, “And not driven till it fails.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Larry Hartig, commissioner for Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation, has called BP imprudent and negligent in a lawsuit. “There have been changes since 2006, " he says. "They're doing a better job, but we're still seeing the spills.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

BP employees and contractors in Alaska say the facilities were built in the 1970s to operate for about 15 years. When the company realized there was far more oil to be had, it extended the operation for several more decades. Now workers say equipment, like these high pressure gas lines, isn't inspected frequently enough and is being “run to failure”, risking a leak and a major explosion. (Photo courtesy of BP workers)

Mike Thuerich works for a BP contractor named Mistras, choosing inspection locations along the pipelines. “They would say, "We want you to do equal to or more inspections than you did last year, but you're gettin' ten percent less for it. You figure out how to do it," Theurich said about the budget pressures. “And when you're pickin' five or ten locations on a line that's miles and miles long to inspect, it's kinda like a crapshoot.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

After two oil spills in Prudhoe Bay in 2006 interrupted eight percent of U.S. oil supplies, an investigation found that one of the pipelines had not been “pigged” – or cleaned and inspected for corrosion -- in 15 years. There is still so much oil to be made that they're kind of in the quandary of having all this aging infrastructure,” said BP employee Kris Dye, “but they have to stay here to make the big money.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

BP mechanic and welder Marc Kovac has been outspoken about safety and maintenance issues in Alaska. “BP has always focused more on policy and behavior of the workers than on fixing the danger, and that’s what we are trying to change,” Kovac said. “We want them to fix the actual physical mechanical issues that are a danger to the workforce and that costs money.” (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Former BP CEO Tony Hayward over the Gulf of Mexico on May 28, 2010. In 2007 Hayward pledged to maintain a “laser-like” focus on safety. But shortly afterward a management shuffle in Alaska made it more difficult for employees' concerns to reach company executives. (Photo by Sean Gardner/-Pool/Getty Images)

The small town of Deadhorse, Alaska, serves as the base camp for drilling operations in Prudhoe Bay. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Six miles off the Alaskan coast in the Beaufort Sea, the Northstar platform was drilled in 1984 as one of BP’s first Arctic offshore drilling projects. Now, while onshore Alaska oil production begins to wane, new investments are being made in offshore projects further and further north. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

The Liberty Project, under construction now, is BP’s latest and most ambitious offshore Arctic drilling venture. The rig, built on a man-made island in shallow water, will drill horizontally more than six miles, enabling it to reach further into the sea without extending the drilling infrastructure. (Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)


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