In June 2022, as gas prices rose to a record high national average of $4.87, a piece of text ostensibly written by an executive for the oil company BP named Brice Cromwell was widely circulated on social media.
The viral post read, in part:
Written by BP Oil Executive Brice Cromwell.
This explains it all:
I’ve been in oil and gas for a decade and sometimes forget how the average person may not know what I see everyday.
We, the American people, have enough oil and gas under our feet to supply our demand and also export our products for years to come.
No matter your political opinion, we can all agree the gas prices we see now are upsetting.
What everyone needs to understand is that the high gas prices are not because of some conflict overseas - prices were high well before that. The prices are not high because our American supply simply vanished.
The prices are high because the people who run our country have decided to import oil from another country instead of using our very own American made product.
Using our own product creates lower prices, puts hard working American people to work with very good paying jobs and makes us as a country energy independent - Not dependent on another country to survive.
We all saw that not long ago.
Not only have the people in power decided to kill American jobs and create high prices, but they’ve also passed legislation to make it harder for an American oil and gas company to produce & transport our very own product.
Forget for one second who was President when our prices at the pump were low and our economy was booming and realize that that person was simply “For the people”. If you take away your dislike for DJT, you’ll admit that you miss those times and enjoyed them. Your 401K was higher, gas prices were lower and we were booming as a country.
Now after a year of our current admin, you’ll realize that these people are “not for the people”.
They are for themselves and their foreign business deals.
The high gas prices should be enough for you to see that.
This post did not originate with a BP oil executive named Brice Cromwell. In fact, BP's leadership team does not include anyone by this name and as far as we can tell this person does not exist.
A spokesperson for BP told us via email: "We can confirm we do not currently have an employee with that name and this text did not come from BP."
So where does this text come from?
One common tactic of political propagandists is to attach a seemingly credible or authoritative person (in this case a "BP Oil Executive" named "Brice Cromwell") to a piece of text in order to give the opinion in that text the appearance of legitimacy. This deceptive strategy is often used in misattributed Facebook post (in October 2021, for example, a quote about guns was falsely attributed to actor Clint Eastwood), as well as doctored images of T-shirts bearing political messages.
The "Brice Cromwell" commentary can be traced back to March 2022 when it was circulated in anti-Biden Facebook groups, such as "Stop Joe Biden." At the time, the post did not carry any specific attribution. Rather, it simply started with the words "PERFECTLY SAID" and then the claim that it was written by a person who had "been in oil and gas for a decade." A few months later, in June 2022, the post was recirculated along with the claim that it was written a BP oil executive named Brice Cromwell.
The members of BP's leadership team can be viewed on the corporate website. This list does not include anyone by the name of Cromwell.
It's worth noting that Bernard Looney, the actual CEO of BP, did not blame Biden (or any other politician) for high gas prices. Rather, Looney told Reuters in May 2022 that the sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine removed Russian crude from the system and caused prices to rise.
"There is one million barrels a day of Russian crude off the system today… We think that will probably double this month, when existing sanctions come into effect ... I don't think we expect there will be any let off on these prices anytime soon."
In addition to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions, the ending of lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused higher demand (and thus higher prices) for gas. The Washington Post reported:
A rare combination of economic and geopolitical forces now manifest themselves at the gas pump. The economy’s rapid recovery from the pandemic created more demand for gasoline, pushing prices higher. Then, the invasion of Ukraine led to a global backlash against Russia, which produces more oil than all but two other countries. So prices went higher again.