1 Term Paper BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster (MIT)

1 Term Paper BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster (MIT) -...

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10-110 September 13, 2011 This case was prepared by Christina Ingersoll (MBA Class of 2010) and Cate Reavis, Manager, MSTIR, under the supervision of Professor Richard M. Locke. Professor Locke is Deputy Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management, Head of the MIT Department of Political Science, and the Class of 1922 Professor of Political Science and Management. This case was prepared as part of the MIT Sloan Ethics, Values and Voice Module. Copyright © 2011, Richard M. Locke. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010 Christina Ingersoll, Richard M. Locke, Cate Reavis When he woke up on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, Mike Williams already knew the standard procedure for jumping from a 33,000 ton oil rig: “Reach your hand around your life jacket, grab your ear, take one step off, look straight ahead, and fall.” 1 This would prove to be important knowledge later that night when an emergency announcement was issued over the rig’s PA system. Williams was the chief electronics technician for Transocean, a U.S.-owned, Switzerland-based oil industry support company that specialized in deep water drilling equipment. The company’s $560 million Deepwater Horizon rig was in the Gulf of Mexico working on the Macondo well. British Petroleum (BP) held the rights to explore the well and had leased the rig, along with its crew, from Transocean. Of the 126 people aboard the Deepwater Horizon, 79 were from Transocean, seven were from BP, and the rest were from other firms including Anadarko, Halliburton, and M-1 Swaco, a subsidiary of Schlumberger. Managing electronics on the Deepwater Horizon had inured Williams to emergency alarms. Gas levels had been running high enough to prohibit any “hot” work such as welding or wiring that could cause sparks. Normally, the alarm system would have gone off with gas levels as high as they were. However, the alarms had been disabled in order to prevent false alarms from waking people in the middle of the night. But the emergency announcement that came over the PA system on the night of April 20 was clearly no false alarm. 1 Testimony from Michael Williams, The Joint United States Coast Guard/The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, “FUSCG/BOEM Marine Board of Investigation into the marine casualty, explosion, fire, pollution, and sinking of mobile offshore drilling unit deepwater horizon, with loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico 21-22 April 2010,” Transcript, July 23, 2010, pp. 24-25. ecch the case for learning Distributed by ecch, UK and USA North America Rest of the world t +1 781 239 5884 t +44 (0)1234 750903 All rights reserved f +1 781 239 5885 f +44 (0)1234 751125 Printed in UK and USA e [email protected] e [email protected]
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BP AND THE DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER OF 2010 Christina Ingersoll, Richard M. Locke, Cate Reavis September 13, 2011 2
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