BP: Slow rehabilitation
For the avoidance of doubt, BP has not yet received formal permission from US regulators at the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
You would be forgiven for believing that the thumbs-up has been given, since that is what has been conveyed in newspapers and on the wires over the past 24 hours (following an initial disclosure in the Sunday Times).
Now BP would presumably not be so dim as to allow a story like this to run unless it were about to come true. And I am told that US regulators have given it an informal nod, so to speak: in July it can get back to work in the waters it polluted not so very long ago.
And that, from the point of view of BP's management, would be quite an achievement.
Certainly last summer, when BP was corporate enemy number one in the US, it seemed inconceivable that BP would so soon again be drilling wells where an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and set in train a despoliation of seas and coast perceived in the White House as of unprecedented seriousness.
Presumably the US authorities are persuaded that BP's review of what went wrong and how it can prevent future drilling accidents now makes it one of the world's safer oil companies.
Curiously though, an influential organisation that advises BP's shareholders seems less persuaded that the company has learned the appropriate lessons.
In an unusual move, Glass Lewis - a governance analysis and proxy voting firm that advises institutions which manage $17 trillion in assets - is advising investors to vote against the approval of BP's annual report and accounts at next week's annual meeting.
Glass Lewis says that the report and accounts contain inadequate detail on "the specific steps the company is taking to prevent a recurrence of such an enormous disaster". And it therefore urges shareholders to "voice their opposition to these deficiencies by rejecting the company's report and accounts".
Now BP would say it has taken very public steps to improve its management of risk, including the creation of a specialist safety division which will have the power and resources to intrude into every nook and cranny of the business.
But if Glass Lewis feels that BP's intent to rehabilitate itself isn't captured in the annual report and accounts, which can be seen as its main contract with its owners, that is not a trivial criticism.
And it is also pretty embarrassing for BP's board that Glass Lewis recommends that shareholders vote against the re-election of members of the Safety, Ethics & Environmental Assurance Committee, namely Bill Castell, Antony Burgmans and Cynthia Carroll.
It will be fascinating to see which, if any, of BP's bigger shareholders follow Glass Lewis's advice. But tension between BP's management and its owners at this critical juncture - when, as I mentioned, BP hasn't yet been given a formal licence to resume drilling in the Gulf and is some way from resuming business as usual in the US - is unfortunate.