Running Head: A case study: BP and the deepwater Horizon


















A Case Study: BP and the Deepwater Horizon


            It is beyond doubts that BP (British Petroleum) extraction and exploration rigs determine the generation of mass profits or losses as is evident in 2010, April 20 explosion at the deep-water horizon. The explosion of the rig was a rare incident in the history of BP, hence a major blow to the company. It is true that the explosion has caused a mass damage or loss to the company but it has led to massive reforms in the company’s operational management. It is also clear that the loss could be avoided but poor operational management of the company led to the big explosion. The concrete reason behind the explosion is none other than crave for quick money without considering the loss that is likely to be associated with the anxiety (AP, APRIL 22, 2010). It is unfortunate that this ignorance leads to the suffering of the workers and the environment at large as is evident in the explosion. The causes of the explosion are related to the causes of increased global warming in the world today. The prominent monster in both disasters is man’s ignorance and greed for wealth. Human beings want to accumulate wealth without considering the side effects used in generating the wealth (Campbell & Groundwater-Smith, 2007).

Thesis Statement

The great damages caused by deep-water horizon exploration in 2010, April 20 were caused by ignorance by the staff to carry out the required procedure of oil extraction due to anxiety to get quick money from immediate operation of the oilrig.

Summary of Facts

The explosion of the deepwater horizon on April 2010 was a rare incident in the history of British Petroleum oil extraction. This was after several years of operation in the area. The workers had been used to the normal operation ever since the firm was started a factor that endorses the fact that the explosion was unforeseen by the workers. Initially, the rig drilled was for exploration and not extraction (AP, APRIL 23, 2010). It was during the completion of the work that the explosion occurred. Before there had been reports that explosive natural gases referred to as “kicks” hindered the operation of the workers in the firm. This is evident by the pumping up of more gas several weeks before the prime disaster, which led to a forced halt of activities in the station. According to Bea, a rig employee reported that several weeks before fatal explosion all “hot work” that comprised of cooking, welding, or any other activities associated with fire was stopped following a warning of “kicks” by a loudspeaker. Another rig worker also reported to Bea that more flammable gas was pushing its way up through the bore pipes.

The government warned BP that the extrusion of the flammable gas required a cautionary measure. In conjunction to the advice given by the government to BP, the engineers in charge of the project were also reported to have had a debate on whether to remove mud from the rig or to cover the rig with lighter water from the sea (Reuters, APRIL 23, 2010). They ended up choosing the wrong decision by covering the rig with light water instead of using mud and additional cement to build up the lead. This meant that the highly flammable natural gas would be able to push its way out during extraction of the oil. This was a decision that was made by BP to carry out the procedure very fast in order to get the operation ready in a shorter period. Critical pressure test was also ignored during the same process and BP, Transocean agreed to the House energy committee. It was discovered that the reckless decision made by the operational management of the company was to protect its profits because they paid the owner of the deepwater horizon, Transocean an amount of $50,000 per day (AP, APRIL 21, 2010).

A worker confessed to Wall Street Journal that the right procedure was being carried out to install the plug down the riser but an order endorsed by the mineral management system led to the pumping out of mud. This was a defiant decision according to the standard procedure. This culminated to the rising of a geyser on the evening of 20 April 2010. The salty seawater used to block the bore was light enough to press down the pressure exerted by the geyser leading to a shooting of 240 feet above the sea (Reuters, APRIL 24, 2010). The subsequent eruption was a combination of mud, water and gas. According to Bea’s report, workers realized that it was dangerous because the mud definitely came from about 10,000 feet down. The blow out preventer failed to work during that time because of it had its battery low. The whole disaster was caused because of ignorance and a big desire for money by the company (CNN.COM, APRIL 23, 2010).

Statement of main ethical issues

  • Should the government take legal action on the causes of the fatal explosion or overlook it?
  • Should the company’s operations be stopped or continued?
  • Should employees continue working at the rig without proper correction of the operations or should they stop working?
  • Must the government intervene into the operation of BP in order to avoid such incidents in future or must it overlook the whole process?
  • Should president Obama be questioned for the lack of government regulation in the oil extraction process or should he be kept away from the matter?
  • Should the workers overlook or report the dangers that are likely to happen at their working stations or should they remain silent?
  • Should the depletion of the environment by the explosion be taken as a serious damage of the natural eco-system or a positive impact to the environment?
  • Should impunity be applied to the mineral management service or should it be held responsible?

My position on the ethical issues

In my own opinion, I would put the entire blame of the explosion on BP and its entire operational management. This is because, if the correct procedure were used by the company in the oil extraction, the explosion would not have occurred; lives for both people and organisms in the sea would not have been lost hence there would be no loss (CNN.COM, APRIL 23, 2010).

It is beyond doubts that the government should take legal action on the cause of legal action. It is true and evident that the explosion led to loss of innocent lives of people (CNN.COM, APRIL 23, 2010). The government is supposed to carry out a vivid scrutiny of the cause of the explosion and administer the required reprimand to the responsible suspect. The government should take legal action on the Mineral Management Service for allowing the engineers to proceed with the wrong procedure (AP, APRIL 21, 2010). Bp should therefore be accused by the government for carrying out wrong procedures of extraction that led to loss of many lives. According to American Associated press, no legal action has so far been taken on the people who propagated to this disaster.

British Petroleum should be blamed for the occurrence of the fatal disaster and have its operations halted as a measure for it to upgrade its operation. If the operations of the company were stopped as a reprimand to their mistake, this would be a good example set to other companies. The spilling of oil into the Mexican gulf has extreme effect on the environment and people too. This would serve as a lesson to other companies carrying out the same operations (Reuters, APRIL 23, 2010). Employees on the other hand should stop working at the rig as it is endangering their lives until the right working conditions or operations are established. Working in the company without any changes carried out in the firm is a risk to a worker’s life. The government should also take the responsibility of intervening into the situation in order to ensure the safety of the people. According to A.P, President Obama allowed the continuation of the process after a discussion with the MMS without clear knowledge of the cause of the disaster. This should not have taken place hence president Obama should be questioned on why he advocated for such without vivid scrutiny in to the matter.

In future, it is important for workers to report signs of danger to the government before the happening of a disaster. If the rig workers had reported on danger signs, maybe a corrective action would be taken, which would have prevented the disaster. Depletion of the environment should also be taken as a serious matter by the government and as a factor that affects people hence impunity should not be a responsive action by the government on the issue.

Opposing arguments that could be used against my argument

            BP and the government could have concrete reasons behind the continuation of oil extraction process by the company. It is true that oil extraction has many benefits to the government and to the entire world (AP, APRIL 22, 2010). The use of oil has led to the development of many industries in the world, hence the need to for the process. Oil extraction contributes to high income to the government through payment of tax paid by BP. The government earns money from the government that enables it to perform its obligations without financial stress.

It is also clear that oil extraction creates employment to professional and unprofessional people. This leads to growth of gross domestic product of a country because increase in population leads to an increase in sales and production of goods and services. The overall solution to this problem is the increases in government tax hence increase in GDP.

Oil extraction is a source of foreign exchange for the state. Oil is sold to other countries without the product hence the transaction enables the country to purchase what it lacks from the other company (Reuters, APRIL 23, 2010). When BP sells petroleum to other countries, it collects money, which the government to carry out foreign exchange after taxation. This means that the sell of oil leads to foreign exchange.

Oil extraction is also very vital to a country because petroleum is used by a large population hence a comparative advantage to the citizens of the country. BP sells its petroleum products to the citizens at a fair price compared to the price it sells to foreigners. Citizens therefore tend to be favored by oil extraction in the area, hence the support for extraction of the oil products.

Despite the production of oil products, which are of great benefit to the nations, the operation of deep-water horizon should be regulated because the impacts caused by uncontrolled use of petroleum products leads to a great loss to the world at large (CNN.COM, APRIL 24, 2010). This is evident with global warming and consequential death of people and animals (Bluhm, & Heineman, 2007)

Ethical analysis 1

      The social contract theory advocates for the agreement on a set of rules by a given group of people living in a given state that govern them. People come up with rules, which are used by the government to govern them (Button, 2008). If it was Hobbes, impunity could not be endorsed and people could live by the law. In this case, impunity has been displayed by the government on the Mineral Management service by overlooking their poor performance on obligations given to them (Campbell & Groundwater-Smith, 2007). The government does not seem to take action on the MMS but offers it the green light to go on with its operations. Hobbes advocated for authoritarian monarchy, which advocates for the strict abiding of set laws by every individual living in a governed state (Button, 2008). This means that the authority of a person or company does not offer him or her right to breach of the set rules. Breach of rules set by the government is evident in the case because of the failure of legal action to be taken by the government. The mineral management service is not held responsible for the explosion hence impunity.

It is also clear that the social contract theory advocates for the benefit of all. This means that all people should benefit from a particular law. The law should not favor some people and marginalize others (Button, 2008). Profiling is also not encouraged in the same law. According to this case, the workers are discriminated while the Mineral Management Service is overlooked due to impunity. This is not a benefit to all because the workers die in the explosion and no action is taken on the Mineral Management system, which propagates the occurrence of the accident (Freeman & Richard, 2007). In order for social contract theory to apply, justice has to be displayed by the government and transparency should prevail in the state.

Ethical analysis 2

            Ethicist, Immanuel Kant had argued that the will or intention of doing something by a person determines whether an act is morally right or wrong. An act is wrong if it is of a bad maxim (Schnädelbach, 2005). This means that a person who commits a crime in bad will should be held responsible for the deed. In this case, Kant is likely to ask the following questions in coming up with the right judgment.

i)       Did the Mineral management system know that it was dangerous to ignore the required procedure in the oil extraction process?

ii)     Did Obama know of what happened before he ruled out that BP should carry on its activities?

iii)   Did the engineers know the possible damages that could be associated with their negligence on the blow out preventer?

iv)   Did the management intend to the death of the 11 workers?

v)     Did the workers know that they would lose their lives by not reporting the matter to the police?

After the analysis of these questions, Kant would be able to come up with the right judgment on this case. This means that he would come up with an ethical solution to the matter. The reason as to why he would asses the event would be in order to come up with a concrete solution on to the case (Schnädelbach, 2005). The assessment would also lead to the critical analysis of the explosion, which would give the right judgment on the suspected parties. The prime reason would be for the establishment of justice in the case (Schnädelbach, 2005). The greatest strength of this perspective would be the initiation of justice to the workers while the greatest weakness would be the lack of a concise or concrete judgment on the case. The weakness would be because of diversity of reasons that caused the disaster.

Ethical analysis 3

            Millora’s utilitarian analysis shows that the moral expectation for a justified judgment should be attached to the happiness or pleasure derived from the act. This shows that honest is required in analysis of a case (Bluhm, & Heineman, 2007). According to Millora’s analysis on examination cheating by students, it is evident that honest is advocated for in the analysis of cases. The suspect is supposed to be honest in order for right and fair justice to take place. Millora would respond to this case by asking the following questions:

i)         Did the workers benefit from the explosion?

ii)       Would the explosion be of a great benefit to the Mineral management service?

iii)     Who would benefit from the explosion?

iv)     Did the engineers gain anything from the explosion?

v)       Who were the losers and beneficiaries of the explosion?

The greatest strength of this perspective would be the detection of the party that is most affected and one that is less affected (Bluhm, & Heineman, 2007). On the other hand, the greatest weakness would be the loss of a beneficiary of the disaster.


The ethical analysis that I think is superior to the others is the social contract theory, which is endorsed by Hobbes. It states that a law should be set for the benefit of all and the right legal action should be taken on anyone who breaches the law (Bluhm & Heineman, 2007). I would choose it because any ethical issues should be associated with common good for all citizens in a country. This means there would be no discrimination hence workers would not be marginalized in the case. In addition to this, I would choose it because it would derive the right judgment for the case leading to justice (Freeman & Richard. 2007). The greatest weakness for analysis response is that people have different priorities in life. This is a vague point because people are supposed to agree on a particular bill before it is passed. I would therefore endorse the social contract theory and refute other analysis responses because it would help in coming up with a concrete solution to the case.





Bluhm, W. T., & Heineman, R. A. (2007). Ethics and Public Policy: Method and Cases. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Button, M. E. (2008). Contract, Culture, and Citizenship: Transformative Liberalism from Hobbes to Rawls.University Park, Pa.: PennsylvaniaStateUniversity Press.

Campbell, A., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2007). An Ethical Approach to Practitioner Research: Dealing with Issues and Dilemmas in Action Research. London: Routledge.

Freeman, S. R. (2007). Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political philosophy. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

Schnädelbach, H. (2005). Kant. 1. Aufl., Originalausg. Leipzig: Reclam


Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF