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Rebecca M.

Hernandez
DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL OF 2010

DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL OF 2010


Rebecca M. Hernandez
South Texas College

Rebecca M. Hernandez
DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL OF 2010

Abstract
The Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010 was a combined negligence on the part of three
companies; BP, Halliburton and Transocean, all of which in our opinion had an equal blame in
reference to the ethical decision they made. Although the courts decided that BP took 67% of the
blame, Transocean 30% and Halliburton only got blamed for 3% of the accident all parties
involved, knew in one way or the other that the decision they were making was not right and that
there was room for big error and nobody stepped up to do the right thing and instead, cut corners
and thus the Deepwater Horizon of 2010 is now something that will go down in the history
books.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010 was an oil spill that took the lives of 11 people
and injured 17 others. Regardless of who carries the most fault in this case, the fact is that the
spill was the effect of carelessness on the behalf of many people and claimed innocent lives. Not
only were human lives taken but the lives of many innocent animals were also claimed including
many animals that were already on the endangered species list. All of the companies involved in
this oil spill lacked in morals and values and had no regard for ethics in their negotiation.
How could such a mishap happened to one of the biggest oil corporations on the face of this
world? Many might now know but BP or British Petroleum was one of the biggest of its kind,
with refineries active in over thirty countries and with an annual revenue of 239 million before
the 2010 incident. It wasnt until The President of the United States placed a six-month freeze on
the Corporation and ordered that British Petroleum to pay a 20 Billion escrow to the citizens and

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businesses that were harmed/effected in the disaster that the government decided to investigate
further into the disaster that they found more violations.

The just of it all


The Deepwater Horizon rig involved in the oil spill was owned and operated by Transocean
and was being leased to the oil company BP. Apparently, BP subcontracted Halliburton to make a
seal to be placed on the well for later use and Halliburton went ahead and made the seal and
proceeded with the installation of the seal. On April 20, a surge of natural gas blasted through the
seal that had been recently installed by Halliburton and ignited, causing a fire and the death of 11
workers. Bp was drilling causing an outpour of oil to gush out which would not be stopped five
months later on September 19. BP tried activating the blowout preventer (bop), trying to close
the channel where the oil was coming out but that effort failed. After research was done later, it
was determined that the (bop) malfunctioned because the pipe had bent under the pressure of the
gas and oil. Approximately 3.19 million barrels are said to have gone into the Gulf of Mexico.
(BP. (2015, March 18). BP is said to have used several methods to control the oil from spreading
into the Gulf of Mexico after the explosion. BP says they used large-scale offshore skimmers and
shallow water equipment to skim the oil from the surface of the water. (BP. (2015, March 18).
BP also says that they used dispersants to help contain the spill. Dispersants are said to act like
dishwashing detergent and break down the oil into smaller parts. Pick up and recovery of the
ocean went on for months and areas were closed down while they were being tested. Businesses
and beaches had to have take some toll in having to stay closed until they were deemed safe.
Not only did our beaches and businesses take a toll but our environment took a huge toll as well.
Thousands of birds, mammals and sea turtles were plastered in leaked oil. Studies were done to

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test the animals and to test what remained alive after the major oil spill. In December 2013, a
study of the living dolphins from Barataria Bay, Louisiana found that half of them were sick,
suffering from lung and adrenal disorders. Approximately 1,100 whales and dolphins were found
stranded by 2015. The brown pelican, which had recently been placed on the endangered species
list also suffered. It was marked that about 12% of the brown pelicans and 30 percent of the
laughing gulls in that area had been wiped out. About 1700 turtles were found dead and that is
not even including the smaller species, as the impact with them was more difficult to determine.
Judge Carol Barbier ultimately ruled that the BP oil spill was the responsibility to each
organization as follows. 67% of the blame was to BP, 30% of the blame was to Transocean, and
3% of the blame was placed on Halliburton. Halliburton received the least amount of blame as if
was said that it was only contracted to make and install the seal. It wasnt until 5 months down
the road in September that the well was finally considered Dead where the outflow no longer
existed but the consequences were more than severe for the company. BP resulted in a loss of
32.2 billion dollars and after enormous pressure, the CEO of BP stepped down and his successor
Tom Jones took over, Jones immediately went into action with PR campaigns and investigations
within the corporation. To Jones discovery, BP was in violation of 97% of the safety and health
violations in a majority of their refineries when compared to other leading corporations and that
wasnt the end of it, under the Clean Water Act, BP was to be fined anywhere from $1,100 to
$4,300 per barrel lost depending if any criminal negligence was found to be present. The way
that BP conducted itself was reckless behavior as described by Barbier himself. Judge Places
Most Blame on BP for 2010 Oil Spill. I agree that all of the parties involved and acted with
negligence, but lets explore this just a little bit further.
Who is really at fault?

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DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL OF 2010

So after reading through several articles and highlighting what we thought were important
details that were left out of the big picture, we have determined that we agree. We agree that
there is blame to be placed on all of the parties involved, but other than a percentage rate and
dollar amount being added that blame, lets break it down and talk about ethical blame and moral
blame as well. What we gathered is that Transocean was the owner of this rig and it was leasing
it out to BP. BP hired Halliburton to install a lid over the well so that they could seal it and yet
Halliburton received minimal blame for any of the spill. Halliburton purposely continued with
the installation of the lid even after they had advised BP that it was not going to meet the
necessary standards to withhold. Instead Halliburton decided to turn the other cheek and continue
with the installation and decided they would just do as they were contracted instead of thinking
about any ethical decision. This caused an ethical issue in negotiation. There was not regard for
those who were not on the bargaining table and there was also a poor choice of tactics used. We
believe it was unethical for Halliburton to have done that job knowing it wasnt being doing to its
full potential just in order to satisfy a customer. The ethical thing to do in this scenario is report
your findings to BP and advise them that until the necessary adjustments are made, the
installation of the job would not happen. If BP refused to make necessary adjustments, the job
installation should have been declined and report the findings to whoever they needed to, to
ensure that it was made known why the installation process was declined and so that BP could
not just contract another company to do the same, unfitting job.
Transocean, the owners of the rig should have also gotten more fault in this process. As
owners of the rig they should be doing regular checkups to make sure that the rig is functioning
properly and up to par and safety standards. A report noted that BP and Transocean employees
were also on the rig and made decisions knowing that there were problems. Knowing that

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someone from Transocean was there aboard the rig with someone from BP and knew that
something was wrong but chose to ignore it as well to me shows that there was no leadership in
this decision. There was nobody who felt that they needed to report all of these finding for the
better of the people. Nobody was looking at the bigger picture of things and what could have
happened (which did) and everyone, including the person with Transocean was looking for a
quick fix and cutting corners to get the job done didnt matter. Steven Newman, Chief Executive
of Transocean also admitted that they false pressure reading tests after the fact as well.
Transocean crews also said they were not properly trained to maintain or operate the rig. Mr.
Newman even admitted to knowing of problems assuring safety even before the Deepwater
Horizon accident. He admits to having four workers die on the rigs in 2009 before the oil
accident. Ultimately, it all boils down to poor leadership. There was nobody who could take the
executive decision to step up and decide that they were going to make the right choices and the
moral choices. Apparently all of the people in these companies lacked morals. If any of them had
any morals, they would have thought of the possible disaster and the outcomes and would have
decided to go with a better option. Transocean should have been more closely monitored and if
you ask me should continue to be more closely monitored. How can you allow a business like
this to continue to function knowing that nobody that stands behind the company has any morals.
Everyone there was looking out for themselves and nobody was looking out for the greater good
of the people.
BP, our last company to talk about and the company, who of course took most of the fault
in the oil spill deserves all that it got blamed for. After all, BP knew that the cap that was going to
be place on this rig was not up to par and insisted that Halliburton install the seal making to their
liking. BP representatives were abroad the rig with Transocean and also ignored early indications

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of problems. In April 2012, the former senior drilling engineer for BP was also charged in federal
court with obstructing justice for deleting hundreds of text messages concerning the flow rate of
the oil, despite having received legal notification to preserve the correspondence. (Deepwater
Horizon oil spill of 2010. (2015). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Having deleted evidence
knowingly after having been specifically told not to, proves that the company indeed had
something to hide. Although the messages were forensically recovered, the company still went
against what they were told to do. Records in these text messages had conversations where the
flow rate of the oil was actually three times higher that what BP had publically admitted to at the
time. Although BP ultimately was fined and also agreed to pay out billions of dollars and was
even charged for manslaughter, this does not take away the fact that this company waited until
after the fact to make the efforts to fix the problems. What they dont realize is that now it is too
late, the damage has already been done and now we have to hope that the cleanup efforts are
sufficient. Paying out to businesses and families and different relief funds after the fact doesnt
bring back the lives that were lost and the long term effect. Animals that were affected and killed
will also not be brought back by the money that BP has agreed to pay out.
Another thing that we fail to look at is the effects that it could possibly still be having on us
today. Much research has continued to take place since the spill and while some tests come back
clean and free of oil many others still shows signs of ongoing damage. The ocean was cleared to
continue fishing in and people have moved on with their lives as though nothing affected the
ocean but what if the seafood that we have been consuming since the oil spill has something in ti.
Even though some areas come back clean, not all the areas have been tested and testers will be
the first to say that they are testing a certain part of the ocean and while that are may be clear, it
does not speak for the entire affected area. What if the seafood that we have continued to eat

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since 2010 has some sort of contamination in relation to this oil spill and we become sick years
from now. Just like some of the survivors from 9/11 who now have cancer and are dying slowly
from having breathed in all of the fumes from that day. Granted they did not die that day, they
have suffered the long term effect of 9/11 and are going to die eventually. This could also be the
case when it comes to the oil spills. All of these companies acted with negligence and they acted
recklessly and irresponsibly. The government should have a bigger say so in the regulations that
are needed to main these rigs. I also think that there should be a minimum standard put in place
to have the rigs running up to par and any work that needs to get done needs to be scaled and
approved two stages higher that what minimum requirements are. The government should have
more people out or responsible for monitoring and making sure that reports from these places are
being submitted accurately and timely. Additionally, inspections by government officials should
be necessary and done on a random basis without warning to ensure that no one is cutting
corners anymore. If anyone feels that something needs to be done or is being done below
standards, they need to report it immediately.
The outcome of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010 could have had drastically
different results if the company had decided to do what was right. Instead of wanting to do things
by cutting corner and wanting them done their way. The company would have had the cap remade once they knew that it was not going to do its job properly and additionally the company
could have had a better outcome if they had anyone in their company who had any line of values.
There needed to be someone who was running any one of these companies who had a set of
values high enough to care about the lives of everyone involved. They wouldve had to have
been thinking about the company, their employees, the workers on the rigs, the people, the
population in the ocean and an overall respect for life in general. Additionally, had there been a

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more strict policy in place and random inspections, the outcome could have very possibly been
different. Going forward, there should definitely be changes made not only in the staff of these
companies but in the legalities and the amount of power the government holds over controlling
what goes on out there.

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DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL OF 2010

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References

Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. (2015). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved


from http://www.britannica.com/event/Deepwater-Horizon-oil-spill-of-2010

BP. (2015, March 18). Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Krauss, C. (2014, September 2). Halliburton to Pay $1.1 Billion to Settle Damages
in Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Krauss, C. (2013, March 19). Transocean Chief Admits Crew Shortcomings in Oil
Spill. Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Veil, S. R., Sellnow, T. L., & Wickline, M. C. (2013). British Petroleum: An


Egregious Violation of the Ethic of First and Second Things. Business & Society

Review (00453609), 118(3), 361-381.


Banger, J., & Shaoping, Z. (2011). THE OIL SPILL CASE OF BRITISH
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(NEDSI), 188-196.
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PETROLEUM'S DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL. Albany Law Review,

74(1), 563-585.
Visser, N. (n.d.). Corexit, Oil Dispersant Used By BP, Is Destroying Gulf Marine
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