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It really does matter what you do when you’re at the top. This has been made very clear by the recent backlash against Tony Hayward, Chief Executive of BP during the company’s recent troubles. At the time of writing, it has been announced that Hayward is to be replaced as CEO by the current Executive Director, Robert Dudley.

Hayward has been widely criticised for his handling of the Deepwater Horizon offshore disaster. The media glare surrounding him has thrown a spotlight on a few casually-made comments that I’m sure weren’t part of the post-disaster PR script and his Britishness has also been a hindrance – it seems that an American disaster demands a particular type of response, and Hayward’s efforts have not been viewed favourably.

So another CEO is brought in and BP will be re-rebranded, thus beginning a lengthy process of making amends for what has been a costly few months.

A new leader will undoubtedly help BP recover. Dudley is, incidentally, an American, and this should help him mend some bridges. The Mississippi-native would do well to emphasise the change he represents: in terms of approach and aesthetics. He is currently in charge of day-to-day response to the oil spill, so no doubt he’ll continue this ‘hands-on’ attitude as he takes the helm.

As the world’s nations try to pull themselves clear of recession, the reputation and conduct of those in power, and especially those making substantial profits, is more important to the general public than ever. When it comes to environmental responsibility, the same rule applies.

In this issue, Gordon Cope reports on the carbon footprint of North America’s pipeline network (‘Treading lightly’, p. 18). The article shows just how important transparency and accountability are when it comes to emissions, leaks and other environmentally-unfriendly by-products of pipeline production. He argues that, when it comes to meeting climate change targets and energy efficiency initiatives, “pipeliners are coming to realise that a more proactive approach may be required”. This means more involvement in issues that have previously been out of a pipeliner’s remit, such as cap and trade policies, and legislation for efficiency standards.

Also featured in this issue is our annual Contractors’ Directory, in which we hear from a range of pipeline contractors, working all over the world. This year’s directory bears out the fact that not only are companies mindful of health and safety directives and right-of-way issues, but they are paying ever more attention to matters of environment. Liebherr and Maats discuss this topic in detail in their article ‘Going green’, (read it on p. 80). They stress that, in the pipeline business, Principals and Contractors are becoming more and more aware of environmental issues. Their analysis of sustainable equipment, emission types and the viability of using biodiesel fuel is an interesting read.

No doubt, lots of planet-saving, safety-making, cost-effective, efficiency-maximising ideas will travel to Venice this September for the 44th annual International Pipeline and Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA) convention. Here, leaders from the pipeline contractors industry will meet and share their individual visions of the future of pipelining, mindful of the fact that leadership matters and that the pipeline industry must strive to be seen as a responsible, forward-thinking business.

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