BP (formerly British Petroleum) has become one of the world’s most controversial giant corporations because of its involvement in a series of major environmental and industrial accidents. The company has been the target of intense criticism for its role in the April 2010 explosion at a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and caused an underwater leak that has spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the ocean, creating the most serious environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Over the past decade, Brazil-based Vale has evolved from a large but little known producer of iron ore to one of the world’s mining leviathans—the only one based in the global south. The major factor in its growth was the US$19 billion acquisition of Canada’s big nickel producer Inco in 2006. It also made an aborted effort to acquire the Swiss mining giant Xstrata. Originally a government-owned firm called Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (literally, “sweet river valley company"), Vale was privatized in 1997.