The Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Business ・MLA ・5 Sources

The Macondo blowout or the BP oil spill are other common names for the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Beginning on April 20, 2010, this incident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Particularly, the Macondo Prospect, which is run by BP, was engaged. Eleven miners vanished during the incident, and an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil were released, making it the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the oil mining business. The well was shut down on September 19, 2010, after BP Company tried in vain to stop the ongoing flow after the initial leak. Strangely enough, it was stated that the well was still leaking in 2012. Although there were significant response measures implemented, the extent of the spillage, as well as the clean-up activities, led to adverse effects on the marine life, fishing industries, and tourism activities. 2013 reports indicated that marine life continued to die in high numbers (Ramseur 1).

The primary cause of the explosion and subsequent leakage has come under scrutiny by various investigation teams. The United States government in its 2011 report attributed the cause to the defective cement used in constructing the well. This report thus placed blame on BP, Transocean and the contractor Halliburton. A previous investigation by the white house commission also indicated the presence of negligent decisions as well as the lack of an effective safety system. In the year 2012, BP Company pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor, 11 counts of manslaughter and one felony charge for deceit towards Congress. After the hearing, BP was subjected to four years monitoring by the government and a $4.525 billion penalty. By the year 2013, the company spent $42.2 billion for criminal and civil settlements as well as a remission to trust funds. In 2014, BP Company was found guilty of gross negligence and reckless conduct that led to this significant incident. In July 2015, the company had to pay $18.7 billion in fines (Krauss and Schwartz). Clearly, this illustration is an indication of prevention, planning, communication, and salvage errors made by BP, its drilling partners (Transocean and Halliburton) and financial partner (Anadarko) as well.

What BP, its Drilling Partners, and Financial Partner did Pre-Loss

Before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP and its partners were familiar with disasters and scandals which were characterized by safety negligence issues. Before the accident, BP and partners created for themselves an image that displayed significant environmental awareness in the public domain including the change of business name from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. The campaign turned out to be efficient, and the company received praise from the consumer business praise, awards and increased brand awareness. Additionally, the company also developed an impressive and credible model of corporate social responsibility hence becoming a public environmentally friendly organization. It is evident that BP also had positioned itself as a climate change activist through the promotion of renewable energy options including hydrogen, solar, wind, and biofuels. According to the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), BP was top in ranking for truthfulness and honesty during periods of crises. Overall, before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP and its partners had developed an image depicting legitimacy and trustworthiness both among stakeholders and the public domain (Ebinger).

What BP, its Drilling Partners, and Financial Partner did Post-Loss

Immediately following the historic spillage, BP and its partners embarked on an attempt to salvage reputation and financial loss. First and foremost, a communication machine was developed to reduce and repair the reputational damages. This communication plan placed the blame on third parties and abandoned responsibility instead of reassuring stakeholders and assist the victims. A great public relations campaign was launched that cost a lot of money, a move that was criticized by some who proposed the use of the funds for clean-up or victim compensation. Another observation is that BP placed more priority on investors and shareholders alone. On top of that, the organization developed ways of limiting and delaying information flow to the public and the media as well ( De Wolf and Mejri 48).

What should have Been Done Pre-Loss

Based on the facts provided above, it is evident that these companies had not only embraced a culture of safety but also didn’t have a proper emergency plan for avoiding or dealing with the crisis. First off, the company should have developed a crisis communication plan to be implemented in times of severe crises such as this one. Such schemes are critical to ensuring that the public, stakeholders and the government are well-informed concerning the extent of the disaster and the steps being taken to deal with it. Secondly, knowing that the media is a great determinant of public relations, the companies should have prepared a contingency plan to deal with media scrutiny at any point in time. Additionally, any organization is supposed to identify and prepare an exceptional spokesperson who plays a crucial role in the sustenance of credibility among stakeholders and the public in a time of crisis (Wolf and Mejri 49).

What should have Been Done Post-Loss

Once the disaster took place, the company should have immediately expressed concern and empathy for the victims and the stakeholders. BP Company was slow and dishonest when providing information hence ruining its reputation. Secondly, the company and its partners should have been quick to acknowledge the problem and the extent as well as immediate response to handle the mess. Also, the company should have offered valid information and also taken the necessary steps to help the affected individuals cope with the situation physically and psychologically. This strategy would include victim reassurance and expression of utmost concern. Another option was to ensure proper communication to the victims, stakeholders and the public as a whole. Lastly, the organization should have used the crisis communicators to engage with the media in an open and honest manner to aid in managing the disaster (Wolf and Mejri 53). Truthfulness should have been upheld by the company at all times coupled with regular dialogue with all the affected parties.

Lessons to be learned

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the offshore drilling is not the issue here. On the contrary, we can learn from this scenario that lack of preparedness, commitment, and adherence to the regulations and policies set by regulating authorities can lead to massive disasters. Inadequate regulatory oversight is also seen as an aspect that should not be ignored in any particular organization as disregarding the same is a recipe for laxity and ultimately culminates to adverse outcomes. Poor coordination and lack of laid out responsibilities among BP Company, Transocean and Haliburton also contributed to the disaster. From this, one can learn that a streamlined role allocation is an essential element in joint ventures. Additionally, the need to have a contingency plan outlining the approach to be taken during such emergencies cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, honest communication is a crucial component of public relation sustenance and a good public image. Finally, the greatest lesson learned is that gross negligence is an unacceptable element in any organization. This usually happens when profits are valued more than safety and durability. Technology and safety standards are critical aspects especially in high-risk businesses like oil mining, and failure to be well prepared can lead to catastrophic outcomes that eventually paralyze the business (Noon).

Works Cited

De Wolf, Daniel and Mohamed, Mejri. ""Crisis communication failures: The BP Case Study."" International Journal of Advances in Management and Economics (2013): 48-56.

Ebinger, Charles K. ""6 years from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill: What we’ve learned, and what we shouldn’t misunderstand."" 20 April 2016. Brookings. 7 May 2017.

Krauss, CLifford and John, Schwartz. ""BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion."" 15 November 2012. New York Times. 7 May 2017.

Noon, Marita. ""Deepwater Horizon five years later: lessons learned."" 20 April 2015. Cfact. 7 May 2017.

Ramseur, Jonathan L. ""Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Recent Activities and Ongoing Developments ."" Congressional Research Service (2015): 1-21.

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