Environmental Law; BP &Deepwater Drilling
BP P.L.C. is a company that has been in the energy business for more than a century. This corporation has been improving its operations in different parts of the world thanks to its constant research, and it has become a world leader as an oil and gas producer. Also, it is one of the pioneers in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is the largest lease holder in the United States with more than 650 lease blocks in waters greater than 1,250 feet. Unfortunately, BP had the record of the biggest oil spill in the area. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig operating in the Gulf of Mexico experienced a well blowout which sank the platform and resulted in the release of oil into the Gulf, a great catastrophe for the environment that the company and the world will not forget. In this paper, we are going to study the legal consequences for the company, and the ethical considerations for this disaster. Hence, we are going to analyze how the organization took a risk with its deepwater drilling, what the company did to solve the problem, how it plans to keep drilling in deepwater using new safety precautions, how the court is developing the case, and the ethical considerations in future operations.
BP Drilling in Deepwater
BP took the initiative to drill in deepwater because of its global experience, the extent of its discoveries in the area, and its presence in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 25 years. Furthermore, BP had the technology, workforce, and all the requirements under the United States law to perform the activity. According to BP P.C.L., the Deepwater Horizon accident was caused because the blowout preventer equipment (BOP) couldn’t control the flow of oil and gas and its emergency functions failed. Because of this, the personnel working at that time couldnot avert the tragedy. However, according to investigations made by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency that oversees deepwater drilling, they found that rig workers ignored signs that the well was getting close to an uncontrolled blowout, and the catastrophe could have been prevented. In addition, BP was criticized because the well design was a cheap one which could enhance risks while running operations (Gold, 2010).
These problems led the Horizon rig into an explosion, and the fire lasted for approximately 36 hours and sank the platform. As a consequence, eleven workers died and others got injured, and more than 4 million barrels of oil were spilled into the sea because it took the company more than 80 days to stop the leak (Achenbach & Fahrenthold, 2010) because of the lack of well-trained personnel in deepwater containments and the lack of high technology equipment.
Solving the Problem
To solve the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, BP brought the best engineers and equipment in the world to work on the accident, but by the time the company stopped the leak, the spilled oil damaged the Gulf’s ecosystem. As a result of this catastrophe, the bordering gulf states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida suffered the biggest impact to their economies, having as a consequence the loss of jobs in the coastal cities and a severe damage in the seafood industry. Due to the accident, BP took responsibility for the clean-up of the area, offshore and onshore. By working in conjunction with more than 47,000 federal, state, and local responders, and the latest technology in cleaning equipment, the affected area was almost cleaned one year after the catastrophe. Most of the workers who lost their jobs during the drill ban along the coastline, as well as whose principal activity was fishing joined the organizations in charge to help clean-up the disaster. In addition, the company worked with federal and state agencies in different projects to restore natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and provided up to one billion dollars...
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