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Business - Case 7 Deepwater Challenges.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

CASE 7 DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER – CHALLENGES IN ETHICAL DECISION MAKING  On April 20,2010 soon after the completion of a cement job that was supposed to seal the Macondo exploratory well to prepare it for later use as a production well, leaking hydrocarbons gas and oil, from the well reached the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig nearly a mile overhead and caused an explosion  Killed 11 individuals, injured 16 others and left the remaining 99 survivors traumatized  Resulted in nearly 5 million barrels of oil discharged over a period of 87 days  Leaving approximately one quarter of the oil remaining in the water and along the shore  Other less immediate but equally troubling outcomes of the disaster have to do with the impact of the oil and dispersants on wildlife, human health and the economy of the area  The food chain may be continuing the negative impacts of the oil as larger animals feed on smaller, affected organisms  The spill caused the closure of 88,522 square miles of federal waters to fishing  Severely interfered with commercial and recreational fishing  Bp determined it would drill an exploratory well Macondo to learn more about the geology of the canyon and to confirm that there was a large enough oil and gas reservoir to merit a full production well  The question of who is liable is still being investigated and may be argued in courts for years  In addition to culpability within the oil industry, many critics have pointed to the US government as partially to blame for the Deepwater catastrophe  Available evidence and testimony indicates that there were multiple (10+) major decisions and subsequent actions that developed in the days before the blowout that in hindsight (hindsight does not equal foresight) led to the blowout  To lessen the pressure of the cement BP and Halliburton chose to use a nitrogen foam cement in which an even distribution of tiny bubbles creates a strong but light cement. If the bubbles combine, however, this mixture can become unstable and create unequal distribution and possible fracture sites  For whatever reason, cement which was predicted to fail was nonetheless used to seal the well  Decisions about what types of tests were needed and what they indicated played a significant role in realizing too late that there were problems  Determining decision criteria helps decision makers prioritize and weigh their options rationally  We must realize that decision makers are bounded they cannot be perfectly rational because of a number of fa
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