BP and Chevron Go Virtual and Green

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What do Chevron and BP have in common, besides being leading members of Big Oil? Computer games, apparently. Yesterday, the New York Times reported on BP’s latest rebranding move—a “collaboration” with Electronic Arts on the video game company’s latest version of SimCity, due out November 15th. Unlike previous versions of the popular video game that lets players build their own cities from scratch, this one will include a more “nuanced power generation and pollution simulation” that will “show the trade-offs among three aspects of electrical power: cost, power output and pollution.” Translation: BP’s colorful, green, and yellow sunburst logo will happily adorn “clean” energy options like solar farms, wind farms, natural gas plants, and even gas stations, while “dirty” energy options like coal will remain BP logo-free!

In September, Chevron and The Economist teamed up for a similar venture. Their online, interactive game, Energyville, allows players to decide how to outfit a city with
solar, wind, coal, biomass, hydro, oil, and nuclear power. The catch? If you try to use only renewable energy sources to supply your city, you’ll be politely informed you need petroleum. So much for thinking outside the box, huh?

And, of course, it comes as no surprise that these companies’ online ventures promote more clean energy than their real counterparts. BP’s 2006 annual report indicates the company spent approximately $29 billion on oil exploration and production (an increase of $4 billion from 2005), compared to a meager $8 billion they plan to spend on their alternative energy projects over the next ten years. Game over.

—Michelle Chandra

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