Homework Help

What is the history, regulations/legislation, and ethical issues/concerns of the...

user profile pic

iza-a | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted October 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM via web

dislike 2 like

What is the history, regulations/legislation, and ethical issues/concerns of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of Kuwait?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

ncchemist | eNotes Employee

Posted October 21, 2013 at 1:56 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

I think you are confusing two different things here.  Kuwait is a small country in the Middle East at the very tip of the Persian Gulf.  It is an oil producing country, but that is the only thing it has in common with the Deepwater Horizon.

The Deepwater Horizon is an offshore oil drilling platform built in 2001, owned by the Transocean corporation, and leased to the BP oil corporation.  In the spring of 2010, while drilling off the coast of the US in the Gulf of Mexico, the well head exploded (this is called a "blowout") and the blowout preventer failed to contain the resulting explosion.  Since the blowout material contained a large amount of methane (a highly explosive gas), a large fireball shot up to the rig and killed 11 people (out of 126 total people on board).  Because the blowout preventer failed to cap the well head, it remained open and allowed for the uncontrolled flow of crude oil out of the well into the Gulf.  This condition remained for almost 3 months until the well head was capped with cement and relief wells were drilled to relieve the pressure.  A permanent cap was placed a few months later.  During that period of time, approximately 210 million US gallons of oil were released into the environment.

The Deepwater Horizon was ultimately found to be compliant with the Minerals Management Service, the body responsible for inspecting and certifying all offshore drilling equipment in the US.  There had been five citations for non-compliance early in the rig's history, years before the accident.  A sixth citation had been issued in 2007, but it was later withdrawn when the rig was found to be compliant.  It had been inspected numerous times over the years, including at least three times in 2010.  The rig was not deemed to be problematic by the MMS and was not on any watch list.

The ethical/legal issues surrounding the incident are numerous and will take many years to fully sort out.  Both Transocean and BP have been found culpable in the legal sense.  Both have already paid substantial sums of money (low billions) as restitution, but again the final damages and financial penalties will take years to sort out.  BP has more to lose here in terms of public image.  They have been at the forefront with the cleanup effort in the Gulf which is what most regular people are concerned about, particularly those that make a living based on tourism and business centered around the Gulf of Mexico.  Whether BP's involvement with the cleanup has been out of ethical obligation or a public relations crisis is unclear, but it is clear that it was important enough either way to spend substantial amounts of money on it.  Ongoing investigations into the thoroughness and effectiveness of US offshore drilling inspections and regulations are still underway.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes