Written by Miranda Marquit
BP (BP) is not particularly popular in Alaska right now. As the main Big Oil company with interest in the Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in the U.S., it is vital that BP clean up its image. A series of partial closures (including one due to a massive pipeline leak last year), and other issues have been marring BP's reputation. Not only are image problems looming for BP, but other issues could also arise. Oil taxes may go up in Alaska, and BP is joining Exxon (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) to discourage a natural gas pipeline suggested by popular Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Photo:bear69designs, Creative Commons, Flickr
The company is hoping that its latest image campaign, one of its biggest in the last several years, will help boost BP in terms of goodwill, ultimately helping the bottom line. The Anchorage Daily News reports on what cutting back on image campaigns has done to Big Oil in general:
"The whole industry, for several years starting in the early 2000s, went a little overboard on cutting back on its PR and promotions," [former BP spokesman Paul Laird] said. "As a result, the goodwill bank got drawn down to just about zero."
In Laird's view, that didn't position the industry well for crucial debates such as last year's oil tax hike in Juneau, and this spring's easy passage of the governor's Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which the big three oil companies don't like.
With second-quarter earnings seasons on their way, building goodwill may not seem like a major priority. After all, earnings for Big Oil are expected to be solid. However, having a better image will probably be of benefit down the road as rising gas prices and foreign oil dependence move toward center stage.
Disclosure: The only Big Oil stock I am investing in is BP. However, I am considering selling and opting for ConocoPhillips, thanks to some insight on COP by David Neubert.