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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Causes

Info: 7909 words (32 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Environmental StudiesEnergy


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

Background and History

Deepwater Oil Drilling Risks

Causes for the Devastating Oil Spill

  1. Resolve the Oil Spill Situation

Communication Strategy After Explosion

Financial Strategies

Effective and non-effective initiatives

Effective initiatives

Non-effective initiatives

Evaluation of the Situation

  1. Code of Ethics
  2. The things BP could have done differently with regards to this particular situation

Leadership Management

Acceptance of Fault

Unprepared Public Relation Department

  1. Steps Implemented to Resolve Crisis
  2. Reference

1. Introduction

The Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most disastrous incidents that ever took place, the incident also played a pivotal role in damaging the reputation of the company. On April 20th, 2010, there was an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon of the BP MC252 drilling platform (Sammarco, et.al, 2013). It killed around 11 workers in the Gulf of Mexico. In the American history, it is one of the largest oil spills that ever took place, 87 days later around 4 million barrels were released from the reservoir and among the 4 million barrels around 3.19 million barrels were released only from the Gulf of Mexico (Crone and Tolstoy, 2010).

2. Deepwater Oil Spills, Background, History and the Circumstances

According to Sammarco, et.al, (2013) the British Petroleum oil spill was the worst oil spill that ever took place in the United States. The underwater cameras revealed the fact about the leakage of pipe of BP was due to the explosion that filled the ocean floor with the oil and gas for about 42 miles, of the coast of Louisiana. It was on July 15th where the well was capped and it was found that around 3.19 million barrels had leaked in the Gulf of Mexico.

The impact of this particular explosion was adverse. The diverse ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico was affected by this particular oil spill. The Gulf is the home of various different kinds of trenches and the ridges (Crone and Tolstoy, 2010). Along with it, the Gulf is also the home of mid-depth banks, beaches, coral, barrier islands, reef and the estuaries. The oil spill was around 42 miles until the coast of Louisiana which endangered the life of different creatures living in the Gulf. It is because the habitats that were living there had the risk of contamination.

After the oil spill took place, BP and the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig together with Transocean and the government of the country took enough measures to prevent the spreading of the oil and the gas towards the beaches and to the other coastal ecosystem. Therefore, in order to control the spreading of the surface oil, these agents and the agencies have used the floating booms and they have also used chemical oil depressant underwater (Michel, et.al, 2013).

Background and History

Deepwater Horizon was an ultra-deepwater, column stabilized, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU). The rig was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea and completed in 2001. The deepwater horizon rig was owned and operated by Transocean, an offshore oil drilling company and leased by British Petroleum (BP) until September 2013, situated in the Macondo oil prospect in the Mississippi Canyon, a valley in the continental shelf. The well was situated in the vast frontier of the deep sea, 5000 meters below the water surface. On the day of the oil spill, there was a surge of natural gas that blasted through the concrete core as the core was too weak to withstand the pressure.

According to the report that was being published by BP, the two most responsible figures in this particular oil spill includes Halliburton and Transocean. Although, the particular report had been heavily criticized. According to Congress senator during that time, in this report BP had eight key findings and had found them responsible only for half of one finding. Therefore, it was seen that BP had evaded their own fault by leaving the others as the main suspects (Crone and Tolstoy, 2010).

The final report on this disaster stated that if BP had taken enough preventive measures, then this particular explosion could have been controlled or rather prevented. Therefore, this particular fact brings up some significant issues, in which it is important to deal a little bit with the history of the oil spill in the United States as well as around the world. According to Sammarco, et.al, (2013), the Deepwater Horizon oil spill brings forth the fact that the nations were slowly shifting from the land based exploration to the underwater exploration. In this venture, the companies were receiving support from technology standpoint and along with it they were also taking the help of geology. The law of the countries too were a great support to those organizations that were carrying out the underwater oil drilling process (Michel, et.al, 2013).

Before the deepwater drilling started, the companies used to carry out oil drilling in the shallow water. It was in the year 1975, when deepwater drilling started, by the Cognac field that was part of the Shell Oil Company. The technology that was adopted by Cognac was economically impractical for the company to move further to the coast. The deepwater oil drilling process nonetheless continued and in 1980 several companies had taken different measures to explore the oil drilling process.

Deepwater barrels started exceeding 10,000 barrels each day (Crone and Tolstoy, 2010). Along with the advancement made in the deepwater of Gulf of Mexico, improvements with respect to seismic technology was made. The result of this was the percentage of the wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, where 3-D seismic technology was used. The use of this particular technology increased the yield to five percent, from 1989 to 1996 (Sammarco, et.al, 2013).

According to a report that was published in the year 2000, the global deepwater drilling increased to a great extent. According to critics ten years ago, the amount of oil drilled was around 1.5 million barrels, but by the year 2009, the numbers of barrels had increased to around 5 million barrels each day. A significant portion of new findings had also come up with the deepwater discoveries (Schaum, et.al, 2010). By the year 2008, the amount of oil and gas produced through deepwater drilling is of such a huge volume that it exceeded the combined volume of onshore drilling and shallow water drilling (Crone and Tolstoy, 2010).

Among this huge volume, Gulf of Mexico was only a part of the huge boom that has taken place. Along with Gulf of Mexico, substantial exploration had also taken place not only in the West Africa but also in certain parts of the coast of Brazil as well. Therefore, it can be said that deepwater drilling became not only popular but also quite profitable for the companies that were operating there. Deepwater drilling was done, despite posing a lot of risk which has become more evident with the oil spill that took place on April 20th, 2010. (Michel, et.al, 2013).

Deepwater Oil Drilling Risks

The risk associated with deepwater oil drilling is something that has gained attention with the advent of the BP Deepwater Horizontal oil spill that took place in the year 2010. In fact, before this particular incident took place people actually felt that deepwater drilling was far safer than the shallow water drilling (Schaum, et.al, 2010). There was although a reason behind this particular believe that the people had and the reason was, the deepwater rigs had worked further off the coast, therefore, the time taken to split was longer. Therefore, the intervening time that was received to protect the coast was also more. Thus, people thought that this particular process would actually help in increasing the profit of the firms to such an extent that people started calling these firms the “big guys”, since they had the money to invest on the technologies for continuing deepwater drilling. On the other hand, the small firms that were there in the market were deprived of those privileges since they lack the amount of money that they could had invested on the newest technology (Muralidharan, Dillistone and Shin, 2011).

According to Michel, et.al, (2013), until the 1970 there were no major oil spills, in the world that is why no one had ever predicted that an oil spill such as the Deepwater Horizontal rig would have ever occurred. In between the years there are some incidents and the accidents that have occurred and had often raised the question that whether or not this particular way of drilling is at all safe or not. Among these accidents and the incidents of the past one that is considered major oil spill includes the tanker accident that took place in Alaska.

It had been considered the worst oil spill ever and may be that is why it has received enough media coverage as well, especially from the American media who is there (Schaum, et.al, 2010). In fact, compare to this particular incident the accident that took place in Gulf of Mexico often seem to have been far more manageable. It is so because the kind of explosion that took place reflects on the fact that the amount of area where the oil has dispersed is nature because the range of explosion is quite big by the nature (Michel, et.al, 2013).

Causes for the Devastating Oil Spill

The above-mentioned risks were not that much of a great indicator that would have helped in determining the atrocity of disaster such as Deepwater Horizontal oil spill. Therefore, the main circumstances that led to the devastating incident includes the following important causes:

  • The day before, the incident took place the crew members who were there, filled the bottom of the borehole with the cement, or rather pumped cement in the borehole in order to prevent oil leakage, and this procedure was being regarded as a standard procedure in this respect. The cement used in this case was a cause of issue as it did not provide a seal at the bottom of the rig as expected. Thus, the oil and gas started leaking upwards through the pipe to the surface. The fact about cement not sealing up to the mark was even admitted by the organization (Muralidharan, Dillistone and Shin, 2011).
  • The organization has used both cements and valves to seal the pipe so that they could prevent the flow of oil and gas. According to experts and investigators, the process used for this particular seal was not good, and since both the seals failed to protect or rather prevent the leakage of oil and gas, thus the oil and gas reached the surface or rather traveled to the surface (Lin and Mendelssohn, 2012).
  • Before the incident took place, the crew members carried out varied kinds of tests to find out whether or not the well was sealed or not and they found out that everything was under control. They had to come up with this particular result because they have misinterpreted the results of the tests that it was the main reason why this particular disaster took place (Schaum, et.al, 2010).
  • If there was leakage of the oil and gas, then the crew at the surface could have easily identified it as the pressure on the well had increased. The crew at the surface could not detect it, even though the pressure of the well increased a lot just 50 minutes before the explosion of the rig. Therefore, this was another important circumstance that had led to the explosion of the whole rig on the Gulf of Mexico (Muralidharan, Dillistone and Shin, 2011).
  • There was no gas alarm inside the rig which would have detected the leakage of the gas, so that after hearing the sound of the alarm the people on board could close the ventilations that were there. It would have then prevented the gas from reaching the cause of ignition such as the engines of the rigs. Therefore, this was another important cause, or rather the circumstance that had actually been the cause of the explosion that took place on April 20th, 2010 (Lin and Mendelssohn, 2012).
  • A mixture of mud and gas started pouring onto the floor of the rig just eight minutes before the explosion. The crew attempted to close the valve in a device called the blowout preventer which sits on the ocean floor over the top of the borehole. The failure of blowhole preventer not working properly was also one of the reason for this huge oil spill.

2. Resolve the Oil Spill Situation

According to various critics and scholars the British Petroleum lost their image and their reputation in the world market with this particular to Deepwater Oil Spill incident. The critics stated that this particular disaster was not only the worst disaster in the US history but also at the same time, the response of the organization was quite bad and this had actually worsened the situation to a great extent (Griggs, 2011). The experts have referred too many newspaper reports, where BP executives had shifted the blame on to the Transocean. The organization had adopted the following strategies to bring this situation under control (Schaum, et.al, 2010).

Communication Strategy After Explosion

BP initially told reporters that the rig was leaking 1,000 barrels of oil a day where it was found out to be 5,000 barrels after a new leak was discovered. Even at that time, spokesman downplayed the number to be anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 and this particular action hurt their credibility early on in this incident. The first press release after the incident emphasized that the oil rig belongs to Transocean Ltd, drilling contractor and that BP offered its “full support”, implies that it wasn’t at fault. The action of deflecting blame for the incident should have been avoided. Environmental Protection Agency and even President Obama called the incident as “BP Oil Spill” whereas BP referred it as “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill”.

The CEO later tried to distinguish between blame for the accident and responsibility for cleaning up by saying “It wasn’t our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up”. Though BP does not own the rig and just owns the oil, it’s a shoddy communication strategy. To make things worse, BP Spokesman said BP will honor all legitimate claims for business interruption. BP responded to a question followed by a reporter on “what an illegitimate claim would like” by mentioning “I could give you lots of examples, this is America”. Such communications are going to make people look with a jaundiced view, though BP may not be a villain in the incident and should have been avoided.

BP CEO responded to a question in an interview on the amount of oil and dispersant flowing into the gulf by saying “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume and believe the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” Technically, he might be correct, but his comments showed profound misjudgment and made the company to appear aloof and unconcerned about the environmental damage being done.

According to the content analysis of BP’s one newsroom that was conducted by Dr. Deborah Silverman, from April 21st to the 1st of October 2010, the organization had released around 127 new releases which were recorded under the title “Gulf of Mexico Response”. According to various critics and the scholars, the Deepwater Oil Spill affected the four important states, which includes Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. The organization opened dedicated websites for these four particular regions of the world (Muralidharan, Dillistone and Shin, 2011).

Along with it, the organization also posted advertisements to various newspapers with response to the huge oil spill or the explosion that has taken place in the Gulf of Mexico. The four important newspapers that were named in this particular case which includes The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today.Moreover, the BP television advertisement also featured, the chief executive officer Tony Hayward apologizing for the Deepwater Horizon explosion using the BP slogan, “We will get this done. We will make this right” (Lin and Mendelssohn, 2012).

Along with the electronics media, social media was used to cover up the mistake they have created. Therefore, BP created account on various social networking sites such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, in order to respond to their commitment of cleaning up for the spill that had been created due to the massive explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. They used social networking sites in order to maintain their commitment for the health and safety of the wildlife of the ocean, whose lives had become endangered with the oil and gas leakage and explosion (Gill, Picou and Ritchie, 2012).

Moreover, with the use of social networking sites, the organization tried to cover up for the economy recovery of those people who were actually being affected by the oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico. Most importantly it allowed people around the world to interact on this particular topic and comment on the current situation that was there in the Gulf of Mexico (Lin and Mendelssohn, 2012).

In addition to these measures, the organization had also taken the measure of creating their own YouTube channel in order to show to the public that they are committed towards the mission of restoring the Gulf of Mexico (Griggs, 2011). Most of the videos that were released on this particular YouTube Channel were named the “Restoration Gulf Coast”, and in many of these videos, the CEO was found apologizing for the incident with the slogan that was mentioned above. Moreover, residents who used to live in that area, and used to make living from the Gulf of Mexico were also part of certain videos that were introduced in the YouTube Channel and these videos were titled as the “Voice of Gulf” (Gill, Picou and Ritchie, 2012).

Financial Strategies

The organization, in order to cover up the claim that they have received from those whose life has been affected by the oil spill, had set up a fund of around $20 million. Along with it, the organization had also set up a $500 million for the Gulf of Research Initiative. This particular initiative was set up for 10 years, and each year the initiative would receive an amount of around $50 million as a part of the funding (Griggs, 2011). This initiative was taken in order to find out the main reasons behind the explosion, the way it has affected the life of human beings and their health, along with the environment. BP has also agreed to fund the $360-million cost of six berms in the Louisiana barrier islands project to protect the coastline and reduce the impact of the oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moreover, the organization also agreed to donate the revenue earned from the oil that is being recovered from the Macondo well for the restoration of the Gulf Coast, or rather, to be very specific for the “Restoration Gulf Coast: The Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife”. It was a program that was initiated by the “National Fish and Wildlife Foundation” (Muralidharan, Dillistone and Shin, 2011). According to BP website, BP has already provided $170 million to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to help with those state’s response costs and to help promote their tourism industries. The company also has paid approximately $51 million in compensation to people and companies affected by the spill.

Effective and non-effective initiatives

The initiatives that were taken by the organization in order to handle the situation turns out to effective in certain cases and ineffective in few other cases. The key effective and ineffective initiatives taken in response to this massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was reported below (Lin and Mendelssohn, 2012).

Effective initiatives

The YouTube channel that was launched by BP in the response of this particular disaster was very effective. As critics put it, the YouTube channel used to have videos which included people residing by the Gulf of Mexico and those who make a living through the Gulf of Mexico was taken into consideration. The way Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has affected the life of the people, and the way their business had been jeopardized had been reflected through the videos (Griggs, 2011). Most importantly, the videos showed how BP as an organization stepped into this arena to make a difference in the lives of these people (Gill, Picou and Ritchie, 2012).

Non-effective initiatives

As mentioned earlier, apologies made by CEO of BP on television had turned out to be very ineffective. It is so because the CEO of the organization Tony Hayward made many ignorant comments such as, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume”. The comments such as this not only failed to cover up the whole mistake that was being made by the CEO of the organization but also at the same time, through these comments the CEO of the organization and even the company itself, became the subject of mockery and satire (Griggs, 2011).

Many television channels also came up with various different kinds of parodies in response to the ignorant comments that were being made by the CEO of the organization. Therefore, this particular initiative that was taken by the organization did not turn out be very fruitful or effective with respect to handling of the whole situation (White, et.al, 2012).

Evaluation of the Situation

The modern day critics are of the opinion that the organization did not handle the whole situation in a proper way. The critics were of the opinion that the guidelines of the crisis management were not followed by BP and this was the reason why people were of the opinion that BP’s response to the whole oil spill issue was ineffective. Moreover, the media spokesperson Tony Hayward too, was not very effective in managing the whole situation (Gill, Picou and Ritchie, 2012). He was, as some critics were of the opinion, a media incompetent.

The result was that positive steps and initiatives that were taken by the organization were often overlooked. Thus, people overlooked the way and the efforts taken by BP and its employees in cleaning up the oil spill. People also overlooked the effective social media content that was created by the organization, an important and a positive initiative taken by the organization to handle the whole situation (Griggs, 2011). The social media sites were actually fostered with many negative comments about the organization and the reputation of the company was damaged badly. Thus, BP could not gain back their former reputation and image even though they have taken enough initiatives to have it back. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was enough to damage the image of the whole organization (Gill, Picou and Ritchie, 2012).

3. Code of Ethics

According to various critics and scholars, the BP Code of Conduct had an open letter from the CEO, Tony Hayward. The CEO emphasized that safety of the organization is a priority and asked employees to stop doing any work that is unsafe. Apart from CEO’s letter, the safety guidelines that were part of BP Code of Ethics included ensuring safety allows the organization to carry on good business (Griggs, 2011). The code of ethics stated that in order to carry out good business, the firm is committed towards ensuring the safety of not only the workforce but also of the community at large.

Along with these two things, the organization is also committed towards the safety management of the environment, and they also ensure that energy is being delivered safely to the people around the world (White, et.al, 2012). The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill negates everything that is being stated in this particular code of ethics because the particular disaster had not only killed 11 workers but also at the same time, the community in which people lived has suffered a lot. BP had taken certain measures to protect the ecosystem and the environment of the Gulf of Mexico as part of their responsibility to handle the situation (Cherry and Sneirson, 2010).

The result of this explosion that took place in the Gulf of Mexico was severe, as the company had to pay a criminal and a civil fine of around $16 billion. The amount paid by the organization actually helped restoring the ecosystem and the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico. Along with restoring the estuaries the money was used to restore the oyster reefs, wetlands and the other various important habitats that are there (Griggs, 2011). Hence, this money helped protect and restore wildlife or rather ecosystem of Gulf of Mexico. Thus, abiding by the Code of Conduct of protecting the community at large and in this case the wildlife community, their protection and restoration were taken into consideration.

Moreover, the code of conduct also states that the organization should abide the laws and the regulations of the state and in this case, BP has followed the laws and regulations of the State by paying the fine as recommended by the court.  Therefore, in this respect also the organization has followed the Code of Ethics that they have set for them (Cherry and Sneirson, 2010). In order to protect those communities who used to make their living through the Gulf of Mexico, they have been covered by the organization or by the firm with the help of the $20 billion fund that was provided by the organization to those whose lives have been affected by this particular incident. Therefore, in this regard, the organization had catered little to the safety and protection of the community people, and this was an important step taken by the organization which follows its Code of Conduct (Griggs, 2011).

The next important aspect that was mentioned in the Code of Conduct guidelines of British Petroleum, which was later rebranded as Beyond Petroleum, is Respect. It states that the organization tries to establish a good relationship with everyone and especially with those, with whom they are working (Cherry and Sneirson, 2010). It therefore, includes not only the partners but also those from whom; the organization has taken any kind of help. The way BP handled the entire situation after the oil spill was not good and it doesn’t connect well with its code of conduct. In fact, it was not at par with the Code of Conduct of BP as the company shifted the blame towards Transocean in the aftermath of the incident, who had owned the rigs, and by doing so they have not only deflected their responsibility and made the media and other people angry but also at the same time, they have also not shown any kind of respect to their partner. Since, Transocean is the company with whom they have worked in this project, therefore, going by their own code of conduct, by shifting the blame they had actually negated the business ethics and the code in this respect (White, et.al, 2012).

One Team is a key aspect of BP’s code of conduct. It states that whatever the strength of the individual, we will accomplish more together and will put the team ahead of our personal success and trust each other to deliver on our respective obligations. BP’s position in deflecting the blame towards Transocean is against its code of conduct.

Courage is another important aspect that has being given importance in the Code of Ethics of BP. According to this particular aspect, the company should always speak up and standby against what they believe. Moreover, it also states that the company should be honest with ourselves and at the same time, should actively seek feedback from the customers (Cherry and Sneirson, 2010). After the oil spill disaster occurred, the way the organization handled the whole situation, was not only against this particular code of conduct and business ethics but also at the same time quite annoying and irritating for the people and media.

The CEO and the media spokesperson of the organization, as well as the whole firm, constantly tried to hide or forge data instead of being honest (Lin-Hi and Blumberg, 2011). In the very beginning of the crisis, the company spokesperson came up with the data that the oil that had been spilled under water was not more than 1000 barrels a day. Later it was found that the amount was not that low, rather it was around 5000 barrels a day. When the actual figures came out, the company did not give any effort to rectify them rather they even down played with that particular figure as well (Balmer, Powell and Greyser, 2011).

Moreover, the particular aspect of courage also states that the organization should not be afraid of speaking out the truth and this particular aspect of the code of conduct has been negated in this case because the spokesperson and the other people from BP used to get irritated with the intervention of the press regarding this matter of oil spill. Along with it, they also did not come up with regular updates as well. Therefore, it showed that they were trying to actually avoid the whole situation and in turn tried to not speak the truth. Therefore, BP has not followed their own Code of Conduct and the Business Ethics with respect to the courage aspect (Cherry and Sneirson, 2010).

The final part of BP’s code of ethics is Excellence, where the company is committed to provide systematic and disciplined management of their operations, follow and uphold the rules and standards set for the company, and thirst to learn and improve. In the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, BP tried to cut costs and save time in exchange with lowering safety procedures. It was stated that BP had pushed Transocean to drill faster which made the well’s bottom to split and caused large deposit of heavy mud. BP did not repair the blowhole preventer though it had detected that it was not functioning well. Moreover, BP had recommended removing the heavy mud from the drilling operation to save time without heeding to Transocean’s recommendation. BP should have undergone proper drilling operation and repaired blowhole preventer by stopping the drilling operation even if it raised the cost, but in reality, BP just ignored them to cut cost and save time. This insensitive act is against their code of conduct on Excellence and clearly indicates that BP did not follow its code of conduct.

4. The things BP could have done differently with regards to this particular situation

Leadership Management

The most important problem that was faced by the organization after the oil spill was related to the lack of leadership. The organization faced a problem because they lack proper leadership skills. The CEO of the organization did not show any kind of compassion, for the disaster that took place, and at the same time, also made certain comments that were quite ignorant by nature (Griggs, 2011). Therefore, proper leadership management from BP would have helped the organization to gain success and deal this crisis situation in a better way.

BP’s bad reputation that was gained in the aftermath of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have been avoided had their leader remained cool even under fire, and unlike wanting back his own life, and if their leader had heard to the grievances of the people and press and had apologize properly for the whole situation. It is important both the people inside and the outside the organization should have the belief inside them that the leader of the organization is under control (White, et.al, 2012). The leader was certainly not in control of the oil spill situation because instead of projecting himself as knowledgeable about the business, the CEO chose to escape by not paying the full price of the oil spill and hence, management with strong leadership is important to handle such critical situations in a better way without creating much mess and follow all ethical guidelines and the business code of conduct (Lin-Hi and Blumberg, 2011).

Acceptance of Fault

Schwartz, (2013), is of the opinion that with respect to acknowledging the disaster that has taken place, BP’s initiatives were really slow. This wouldn’t be the case, if BP accepted initially that the oil spill disaster is huge and acknowledged their faults. This was evident when the organization’s spokesperson hid their faults and shifted blame towards Transocean, the owner of the rig (Balmer, Powell and Greyser, 2011). BP should have acknowledged the problem at the early stage and should have empathized with the plight of the people whose life had been affected by this disastrous oil spill (Lin-Hi and Blumberg, 2011). The organization and the spokesperson of the organization mentioned that they would like to have their life back in front of media. Due to this hazardous oil spill incident, not only the future of those people who make their living from the Gulf of Mexico is affected, ecosystem has been affected badly in addition too many deaths. (Schwartz, 2013).

Therefore, it is important for the senior management of the organization to be very careful and empathetic towards those people whose life has been threatened by this particular disaster or the incident. Moreover, the environmental problems that were being created, by this particular hazard, were not addressed properly by the organization (Balmer, Powell and Greyser, 2011). They claimed that the disaster that took place was not only a part of the man-made disaster, but also a part of the climate change that was taking place. The management could have handled the situation in a slightly better way had they shown empathy towards the environment and environmentalist. (White, et.al, 2012).

Unprepared Public Relation Department

The blunder that was caused by BP in the Gulf of Mexico was not only in the news for oil drilling process, but also for the unprepared PR of the organization for a long time. It showed that both the organization and federal state administration were not at all ready for the whole disaster that took place (Balmer, Powell and Greyser, 2011). According to United States law before the drilling operation, response plan in case of emergency needs to be provided. Since there was no such plan, the organization should have been well-prepared with an emergency response plan. The response plan should not be there because the law of the state had demanded it; rather it should be there because there is the need of it. If the response plan was there, then the organization would not have handled the situation this badly and their PR would not have sounded so unprepared (Lin-Hi and Blumberg, 2011). BP should have been prepared to successfully handle a crisis of this nature. Given the type of industry, it is quite common to believe that back up plans, safety measures and emergency procedures were in place and respective teams should be aware of them to work on it when needed.

It is imperative to know the facts and take time to confirm them before facing the press to speak about the crisis. It ensures credibility from the outset. This was certainly lacking in this case of BP Oil Spill, where the spokesperson initially reported 1,000 barrels of oil being leaked per day compared to actual reports of 5,000 barrels per day.

5. Steps Implemented to Resolve Crisis

It is important to demonstrate empathy and competence as the first reaction for the crisis situation. Such behavioral displays are vital for building credibility at first impression. The organization’s first comment should have been a strong note of empathy regarding the need for due diligence in safety. Empathy should be displayed as a concerned corporate entity composed of authentic people diligently making a good-faith effort to solve the problem. Also, it is imperative for the organization to be at the front and center of the media. Regular and frequent progress reports on the situation and actions that have been taken to handle the crisis should be reported. The organization should be mindful of all the basic operations of the drilling process and not just about making profits for the company. The organization should be aware of the key decisions and processes on the rig to avoid underestimating the magnitude of the spill and face press with confidence. This will help build credibility for the organization and avoid public outrage.

The company should be transparent internally and externally and should earn their credibility. Being transparent about the actions that has been taken with the media and government regulators is important as it will avoid unnecessary rumors and complications. These measures when taken by the corporate organization would have helped handle the situation in a better and effective way. It is necessary for the organization to quickly acknowledge the problem initially.

It is important to overstate the importance of safety for a global company which employs risky operations. Safety cannot be overlooked in the quest for profit. From my standpoint, the company should use all avenues of safety that are available especially when employees’ lives are at stake. Proper rig testing should have been conducted at regular intervals and cost cutting decisions should not be implemented at the cost of safety. Drilling process should have been conducted at normal pace rather at a faster rate to save time. The organization would not place short-term benefits against technically sound drilling practices and it is mandatory to have procedures that are compliant. If proper drilling practices were followed, the blowout could have been avoided.

The BP workers failed to consult a knowledgeable engineer internally who was visiting the rig or other shore-based engineer about unexpected results from a critical negative pressure test on the rig. So, the recommendation is to consult expert engineers on a periodic basis, especially if abnormally high pressure readings were recorded in the rig and proper steps should be implemented to prevent the occurrence of such high pressure events. The blowout could have been avoided had they consulted one of their expert engineers.

In a global organization like BP and employing deepwater drilling strategy, there should not be any excuse of having a local problem. If the organization had adopted a global strategy, then the planned measures that would be adopted should be global as well. Implementing global measures would have helped handle the situation in a much better way. Therefore, in order to deal with this particular situation, it is important that the organization should enforce and define compliance with global operating policies. Along with it, the organization should have appropriate risk analysis as well and this would have been set against the global requirements that were there. It would have allowed the organization to explain the way drilling process would have been conducted. Therefore, this particular measure would have been taken in order to handle the situation in a better way (Schwartz, 2013).

Having more knowledge about the rigs and ability to detect danger before the accidents would have avoided such disaster. Though the crew members in this case had several signals indicating the occurrence of a disaster, but being unaware of the technical failures resulted by not alerting other team members. It is required to implement technical training sessions on danger detection and rig technicality for the crew members to be aware of taking alternative emergency procedures. Since, many of the workers lost their life, this particular training and development program for the workers would have motivated them, as they would get to know about the whole process and they would also learn from the training process to protect their own self (Schwartz, 2013). Along with it, announcement should be made regarding the maintenance of the rigs and the pipelines. Moreover, in order to handle the situation in a better way it is important to publicize the finding of the organization in this respect. It would increase the credibility of the organization in front of the public (Balmer, Powell and Greyser, 2011).

The adoption of the Three phase crisis management modelin this case would have helped the organization to handle the situation in a better way where the model includes a pre-crisis phase, crisis response phase and post crisis phase. A model where the three important phases of the model should be considered one important and holistic thing and not as three separate things. In the pre-crisis phase model, crisis management framework would be used for planning and preparing a plan for the crisis that may occur at any time (Ritchie, et.al, 2014). If the plan is there with the organization, then the PR of the firm would not sound unprepared. The next step in this model includes the “crisis response phase” and this particular phase would actually help the organization during the time when the disaster or the crisis had occurred. It would help the organization or the management of the organization to respond to the crisis in a proper manner. “Post crisis phase”, includes the strengths and the weakness of the way the crisis had been managed and how it can be improved in future (Bridges and Bridges, 2017).


Thus, it can be concluded that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is an important incident with respect to the blunders that have taken place. The incident had been the focus of media and press for a long time not only because of the massive explosion that took place, but also for the careless and somewhat ignorant attitude showed by the organization at least in the beginning stage of the aftermath of the oil spill incident. Therefore, this had actually, said to have worsen the whole situation.


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