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'Small People' Remark: BP Exec Is Sorry for Unintentional Slight

3 years ago
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He didn't really mean to say "small people" when referring to victims of the oil spill, you see, what he meant was: "BP understands how deeply this affects the lives of people who live along the Gulf and depend on it for their livelihood."

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg backed away Thursday from remarks he made outside the White House on Wednesday after his executive team met with President Obama and pledged to set up a $20 billion compensation fund. Obama, Svanberg told reporters at the time, "is frustrated because he cares about the small people. And we care about the small people." Svanberg said he knew that some people view large oil companies as uncaring, but at BP, "we care about the small people."
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg
The comments, coming after BP CEO Tony Hayward's line a few weeks ago that he wanted his life back, rubbed some Gulf Coast residents the wrong way. "We're not small people. We're human beings," Justin Taffinder of New Orleans told the
Washington Post. "They're no greater than us. We don't bow down to them. We don't pray to them.

Svanberg is Swedish, so there may have been a translation issue that resulted in an unintentional slight. In his "what I was trying to say" statement Thursday, he said BP's intentions "will best be conveyed not by any words but by the work we do to put things right for the families and businesses who've been hurt."

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10 Comments

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happylinda09

I would have to guess that BP's Chairman Svanberg probably didn't intentionally mean to hurt anyones feelings or offend anyone by his 'small people' remark. You have to realize that this is just the way that 'those people' talk all the time, and it just slipped out. And also you have to realize that 'those people' live a base level of existence, although they think VERY highly of themselves. There is no true spiritual values on a base level. But don't they look very "illuminated" in appearance?? Anyways $20 billion dollars is a nice gesture on their part, but compared to the way our President hands out $800's of billions of dollars, it feels like pocket change...(they may have to cough up more than that...) It is amazing how the hugest ongoing thought from BP on how to contain the oil spill must have been- How can we capture all that oil that's gushing out...we can't just stop it or we'll lose all that money. If oil is at appx. $70 per barrel, how much is 60,000 barrels a day going to bring?

June 17 2010 at 5:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
I love USA

as English is not this gentleman's first language....this is did not upset me at all...he is just trying to say "Main Street" citizens....and "Main Street" people are "little" in Washington DC politicians' mind. BUT NOT FOR LONG...NOT ONE OF US HAS FORGOTTEN THAT OBAMA AND HIS DEMOCRATS SPIT IN OUR FACES WHEN WE SAID "NO OBAMACARE" AND THEY IGNORED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE......NOT ONE DEMOCRAT WHO VOTED FOR OBAMACARE AND/OR SUPPORTED IT WILL BE RE-ELECTED!

So leave this gentleman alone and hit on our real problem.....Washington DC!

June 17 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Janeyre

I wonder who the little people really are? It sure isn't the wealthy or rich... Perhaps, small people makes for an angry group... This is funny, really... Almost like those who always complain, minority use the race card. So some White people have a problem with this European referring to them as "small people." Too funny, really...

June 17 2010 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vobox3343

Whether you like it or not, politicians who would fight to protect the oil industry and not make sure certain safety precautions were in place, also think you're small, implies or otherwise. Don't get mad at the truth. It's been staring you in the face for quite a while now.

June 17 2010 at 3:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
oldhorsema

The comment made concerning "small People", was made by a person whose English was not his native language so the criticism of what he said was thoughtless. In fact, there are plenty of native Americans whose English is pretty bad so don't criticize foreigners because their second language is no better.

June 17 2010 at 3:36 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Jeff

The democrats think by having a show trial in congress, that it
will help their chances in November. Sorry it wont work.

June 17 2010 at 3:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ix

This is silliness. I am in the process of learning a foreign language, and know first hand how hard it is to find idioms and figures of speech that move from one to the next. I heard his remarks live. I noticed overall his words were very mildly awkward, but when he said "small people" I could tell right away by his inflections that he realized he hadn't translated in his head what he wanted to say.

June 17 2010 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ix's comment
conservgirl8

I agree it is silly. I, too am learning a foreign language and know exactly what you mean. Must we always, always, publish every little nuance of anyone at BP? Please, let's grow up.

June 17 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
HAHAHAHA

I know a BP employee said this, but let's crucify Obama for the remark. Right guys?

June 17 2010 at 12:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to HAHAHAHA's comment
matt102678

More than a little paranoid aren't we Foxnewstoldmeso?? There are valid acts and deeds that Mr. Obama has done to further his political agenda which many of us will rightly criticize him for. Most intelligent people will realize that the chairman of BP is limited in the English language as it is a second language to him and merely mis-spoke. They will not "crucify" him or Mr. Obama for the mistake.

June 17 2010 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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