Monday 19 March 2018

BP 'Photoshopped' images in new cut and paste row

The photo's caption on the BP site reads: 'View of the MC 252 site from the cockpit of a PHI S-92 helicopter 26 June 2010.' Photo: BP
The photo's caption on the BP site reads: 'View of the MC 252 site from the cockpit of a PHI S-92 helicopter 26 June 2010.' Photo: BP
The original photograph shows the helicopter sitting on the launch pad of a support ship. Photo: BP
A detail of the doctored image showing small white areas suggesting Photoshopping. Photo: BP
The top left hand corner of the doctored image shows what could be an air traffic control tower. Photo: BP
A detail of the helicopter's instrument panel may suggest the helicopter is not flying. Photo: BP
The doctored image shows the projector screen has been 'burnt in' so that it shows more detail. Photo: Marc Morrison/BP
The original image of 'SIMOPS operations for Top Kill at BP's Westlake Campus in Houston, Texas, 26 May 2010'. Photo: Marc Morrison/BP
A close up showing the poor use of Photoshop. Photo: BP

Andrew Hough

BP has ordered staff to stop manipulating photographs of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill response, as the row over its public relations campaign intensifies.

The oil giant was forced to issue new guidelines to staff to “refrain from doing (sic) cutting-and-pasting” after several official company images were found to have been doctored.

BP admitted on Thursday that it “photoshopped” some of its official images that were posted on its website and vowed to stop the embarrassing practice.

For the second time in two days, the company was identified to have doctored images posted on its official website that were supposed to show how it was responding to the oil crisis in America.

In the latest image, a photo taken inside a company helicopter appeared to show it flying off the coast near the damaged Bluewater Deepwater Horizon.

But it was later shown to be faked after internet bloggers identified several problems with the poorly produced image that contradicted the appearance that it was flying.

Among the problems identified included part of a control tower appearing in the top of the top right of the picture, different shades of colours, its pilot holding a pre-flight checklist and its control gauges showing the helicopter’s door and ramp open and its parking brake engaged.

The image was posted on the official BP website but later removed.

It has since been posted to the company's official Flickr account under the heading "BP altered images, which also includes a further two faked pictures.

The image, entitled “View of the MC 252 site from the cockpit of a PHI S-92 helicopter 26 June 2010”, was first identified by Gizmodo, a technology news website, which posted the images on Thursday after a tip-off from a reader.

Another image has also been exposed as faked, which BP admitted appeared to be “cut and pasted”.

BP admitted the image of a meeting in its Houston office, showing a technical team in front of a large projection screen, had been “edited” using colouring tools. This was to ensure the detail on the projection screen could be seen to readers.

The disclosures have created further embarrassment for the oil giant and is the latest blunder to hit the company.

It comes less than a day after the oil giant was criticised for doctoring an image of image of its Gulf Coast oil spill command centre, which indicated that staff were busier than they actually were.

It later acknowledged that it posted on its website an altered photo that exaggerated the level of activity at the centre in Houston.

In a statement to The Daily Telegraph, BP admitted that it edited images it posted on its official “Gulf of Mexico Response” website.

“BP's photographic department uses Photoshop to edit images we post on the Gulf of Mexico Response website,” a spokesman said.

“Typical purposes include colour correction, reducing glare and cropping. In a few cases, cut-and-paste was also used in the photo-editing process. These cut-and-pasted images have been removed.

“We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing (sic) cutting-and-pasting in the future.”

He added that the both the original and edited images have been posted on its official Flickr page “for comparison”.

He said the company included an image that “appears cut-and-pasted, but was edited using the colour saturation tool to improve the visibility of a projection screen image”.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and causing one of America's worst environmental crises.

The well has spewed somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons into the Gulf. BP said the cost of dealing with the spill has now reached nearly $4bn.

Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, and other oil bosses are expected to give evidence to a new UK political inquiry into offshore deep-water drilling.

That inquiry, expected to start later this year, will ask "serious questions" about the oil companies' plans for dealing with spills, including key safety devices such as blowout preventers.

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business