深海区域只是BP庞大的全球资产的一小部分。尽管犯下这么多错误，这家公司还是很难（如果不是毫无可能的话）就此倒下。任何一家石油公司都是这样，它们不会觉得未来堪忧，原因在于，哪怕它们必须努力找油，但石油这种商品不但利润极其丰厚，而且需求量还在日益增长。能源管理协会（Energy Administration Association）发布的《国际能源展望》预计，2008年到2035年期间，全球能源消耗量将增长约53%。尽管可再生能源将是未来燃料组合中增长最快的组成部分，但石化燃料仍将占据主流。
BP新任首席执行官鲍勃•达德利称，公司已经修正了发展路线。只有时间能告诉我们他所说的是否属实。然而，石油巨头们总能摇身一变、恢复元气。埃克森石油公司就是个很好的例子。还记得埃克森瓦尔迪兹号（Exxon Valdez）漏油事件吗？当时，一位醉醺醺的埃克森油轮船长驾船搁浅，将1,100万加仑石油倾入阿拉斯加原本处于原始状态的威廉王子湾（Prince William Sound）。这一事故令人厌恶，不可原谅。但是此后不久，埃克森石油又重振旗鼓了。
Beyond petroleum, beyond the Gulf
Deepwater is only one slice of BP's plentiful global assets. As many mistakes as it has made, the company is very difficult, if not impossible, to kill. Any oil company would be, because even though they must work harder for their oil, the commodity is both extremely profitable and in increasingly greater demand. The Energy Administration Association's international energy outlook predicts that global energy consumption will jump by about 53% between 2008 and 2035. While renewable sources of energy will make up the fastest-growing segment of the fuel mix in the future, fossil fuels will remain the dominant source.
It seems like any company with its hands on enough petroleum can afford to spill millions of gallons of crude with upsetting, but nonfatal, corporate consequences, even if that company is playing in one of the world's most volatile markets.
In fact, huge, integrated oil companies can adjust to the volatility in the market. When the price of oil is low, exploration and production is expensive, but companies can rely on retail assets such as gas stations to benefit from the high profit margins at the pump. When the price of oil is high, then the exploration and production arms become the main moneymakers. The price of oil has been so high for so long that ConocoPhillips is planning to spin off its refining arm in 2012 and focus only on exploration and production.
Out of sight, out of mind
Financial stability aside, the flurry of bad press around BP has died down, despite the skeletons in its safety record that the spill revealed. Though there was over 5 million barrels worth, the oil that spilled in the Gulf entered an ecosystem that, though damaged, is full of petroleum-consuming bacteria. The oil that wasn't dissolved by chemical dispersants or microbes fell to the bottom of the ocean, out of sight to the public.
BP's new CEO Bob Dudley says the company has righted its course. Only time will tell, but Big Oil is capable of change. Exxon is a good example. Remember the Exxon Valdez? A drunk Exxon oil tanker captain ran the ship aground, spilling 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska's formerly pristine Prince William Sound. It was ugly and inexcusable. But then, Exxon restructured itself.
Outwardly, the oil giant was stand-offish to the press about the incident. But it made internal changes, and the company now has some of the highest safety standards in the industry. Perhaps BP will follow suit. It's progress should be carefully watched, after such a big mistake.
But the bar for mistakes at Big Oil companies is so high, it's hard to imagine how big an error would have to be to actually take one of them down.