When an organization is in a crisis, it dominates the organization’s agenda and requires immediate action. The way the organization responds to a crisis can differ in many ways. In this essay I would like to discuss the crisis of the British concern British Petroleum (BP). At first I would like to provide more information about the crisis and its consequences, then I will identify the kind of crisis we have to deal with, I will discuss the several communication strategies BP have used, I will explain the different reactions of the public on the crisis. At last, I will give the oil concern some advice, in case a reoccurrence takes place.
The BP oil spill
The BP oil spill was a big natural disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20th of April 2010. The spill was caused by an explosion of the platform Deepwater Horizon leased by BP. 11 people were killed and 17 people were injured. During the effort to extinguish the fire, the platform sank. The drill rod broke and leaked oil. For almost three months the oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. The situation was very threatening and President Obama proclaimed the oil spill to be a national disaster. In the beginning the run-off was calculated at 800.000 liters of oil a day. The amount of oil slipping away just became more and more, until 3 million liters a day was spilled into the ocean. Scientists speak of the worst oil spill in the history of the United States. After 5 months of searching for a solution for the oil spill, BP announced on the 20th of September that the leak was permanently stopped. The whole operation had cost 9,5 billion dollars. The total amount of spilled oil is equal to 4 million oil tanks. Effects
A lot of animals who lived in the surface area in the Gulf of Mexico were besmeared with oil. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 155 dolphins and little whales were found dead, and 141 endangered turtles were washed up on the coast. The fisheries in the affected areas were shut down. Florida’s and Cuba’s coral reefs were both threatened, and Florida Keys’ coral reefs are well known for its flora and fauna. In the future, even more damage can be expected in the ecosystems, due to chemicals used in the attempts to stop the holes. Due to the risk of fire, the production at two platforms was shut down. On Wednesday the 16th of June the first sums of compensation were determined. BP has to pay 15 billion dollars to the emergency fund. On the 27th of July 2010, BP announced that their former CEO Tony Hayward would be replaced by Bob Dudley.
Identification of the crisis
To identify the type of crisis we use the Crisis Type Matrix of crisis expert Timothy Coombs. He defines four types of crises based on two dimensions:
Internal-external: did the oil spill result from something done by the BP itself? Or was it caused by some person or group outside of BP?
Intentional-unintentional: Was the crisis committed deliberately by some party or not?
The two dimensions together give four crisis types, illustrated in the Crisis type matrix:
The American government has investigated the disaster with BOEMRE (The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement). Their report on the crisis determined that BP is responsible for and culpable to the crisis. This makes the disaster internally caused. The crisis was not committed deliberately by BP, so the crisis is unintentional. According to the Crisis type matrix we can conclude that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was an accident. Accidents can be further divided into acts of nature and human-induced errors.
The BP oil spill clearly was an accident caused by a human mistake, and therefore can be labeled a human-induced error.
BP used different kinds of communication...
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