Nightly News   |  August 11, 2010

Oil boom producers say BP let them go bust

Many of those who answered the call for additional oil boom in the immediate wake of BP's Gulf oil spill disaster say the petroleum giant mistreated them and left drowning in red ink. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the oil spill happened there was a surge in demand for booms, the floating tubes of fabric used to control the spread of oil on water. many companies ramped up production to help in a national emergency . now, some of the companies are saying bp mistreated them and left them drowning in red ink . here's senior investigative correspondent lisa myers .

>> reporter: after being contacted by bp in early june, larry buck's company in ft. worth, texas, hired workers, bought materials and later that month got an order from bp to make $680,000 worth of boom.

>> it was how much, how fast?

>> reporter: the first two shipments went smoothly, but buck says in july, to his shock, the third was rejected. even though a bp contractor who inspected the boom at the plant wrote, all procedures and materials used met or exceeded requirements. buck said he offered to rework the boom at his expense but bp said no, cancelled his contract and hasn't paid a dime on $400,000 worth of boom he delivered.

>> we have had to lay people off. i have had grown men in tears.

>> reporter: desperate, he said he's repeatedly tried to reason with bp , but now no one will return his call.

>> the lack of integrity, you know. integrity -- that's everything in business. they're cheating you out of the money. as hard as that is to stay, that's what they're going.

>> reporter: it isn't just buck's company that feels mistreated. nbc news spoke with more than a dozen businesses across the country -- boom manufacturers, fabric suppliers and equipment makers. some are facing losses of hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. all say they were damaged by bp 's failure to live up to its commitment. the companies complain that bp repeatedly changed boom specifications and abruptly cancelled or refused to accept orders once the flow of oil was slowed, leaving companies with mountains of boom and years of vinyl.

>> a lot of parties we were dealing with.

>> reporter: ben byler said bp repeatedly told his chicago company to make the boom and bp would buy it, but the promised order never came. he's out $2.5 million.

>> bp cared not one whit about the impact it had on companies like ours that did everything in their power to try to bail bp out of a problem that they caused in the gulf of mexico .

>> reporter: bp told nbc , bp 's procurement department has not rejected purchase orders for boom that met our quality standards . we have cancelled purchase orders for boom that did not meet our quality standards , but in these cases we have tried to work with suppliers to resolve the matter. larry buck calls dealing with bp his worst experience in 41 years in business. lisa myers , nbc news,