As crude continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico and Tony Hayward can’t work out what he did “to deserve this”, it turns out the company is having problems with offshore operations in the North Sea as well. The British Health & Safety Executive has warned both both BP & Shell that they are failing to meet basic standards, endangering “your employees and others not in your employment by not providing and maintaining a system of work for the control of that operation that was, so far as reasonably practicable, safe”.

Oilworkers union the OILC (RMT) has argued that safety was compromised after operators slashed pay for drill rig workers by up to a fifth last year. Jake Molloy, general secretary of the OILC, which represents many of the estimated 25,000 North Sea offshore workers, said: “Drill workers feel that they’re sold short. They undergo training and do the work and the reward they get is a massive pay cut. It’s not good for safety culture on rigs.”