Causes of BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Modified: 5th Dec 2017
Wordcount: 2651 words

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1. Introduction

The concept of effective leadership represents a theoretical framework to analyse the case study Deepwater Horizon Accident. The idea of an effective leader can be captured by the following basic principles:

the leader must have a long term and strategic vision (what should be achieved? How should be achieved? Who should achieved an identified goal?).

A leader should be focused on people. This implies the identification of instrumental goals, their effective communication, and human beings’ involvement. The involvement depends both on incentive system and involvement. effective leaders are increasingly characterised as being enablers –  helping people and organisations to perform and develop. This implies that the leader has to achieve a sophisticated alignment between people’s needs and the aims of the organisation

The leader needs to balance, reconcile and integrate opposite cultural values (Hofstede). The conflicting values and cultural differences emerges whenever a leader deals with stakeholders (consumers, environmental groups, trade unions). Hofestede (1978) identifies four dimension to analyse cultural value of nations. He describes the following elements:

  • power distance
  • individualism vs collectivism
  • Masculinity vs. femininity
  • Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance
  • Long vs. short term orientation

2. The Case Study

The Deepwater Horizon Accident was caused by the escape of hydrocarbons resulting in explosions and fire on the rig. At that time the social media emphasizes this accident not for the death of eleven people and the injured of seventh, but also in connection with main environmental damages (such as the rig sank and the continued flow of hydrocarbons from the reservoir).

The following investigation reveal that:

“The team did not identify any single action or inaction that caused this accident. Rather, a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident. Multiple companies, work teams and circumstances were involved over time.”

( BP 2010, 5)

Thus, the problematic situation in Mexican Gulf seem to be generated by the leadership style, as they fail of focusing developing a clear vision and communication and exercising strong control to the organization. This statement represents a thought provoking situation in order to analyse the behaviour and leadership style of three leaders (Tony Hayward, Bob Dudley, Barack Obama)

2.1 Tony Hayward

At the time of natural disaster Tony Hayward was the Chief executive of BP. In coherence with Hofstede (1978), he showed a short term vision in his communication activity. The Guardian (14 May 2010) indicate that the Chief executive declared: “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume”. The same article report the emerging conflicts between BP’s efforts (“to contain the spill had succeeded in dispersing the oil and preventing large amounts reaching the shoreline around the Gulf”) and the environmentalists’ concerns the unseen damage being done to marine life. Additionally, Tony Hayward “admitted that BP had made mistakes in its early response to the crisis. It initially refused to compensate fishermen who were unable to produce written proof of their normal earnings.” Instead, the main worry concerned share values and profit distribution. The leader also failed to deal with the stakeholders revealing an individualistic approach and short term vision in firm’s management style. This aspect was also revealed by the weak safety policy adopted by the BP company.

2.2 Bob Dudley

Following the criticism related to Tony Hayward, Bob Dudley was designated as the new Bp Chief Executive. Mr Dudley joined the board of BP before, as his most high-profile role was as the chief executive of BP’s joint venture in Russia, exploiting oil fields in eastern Siberia.

The BBC report (2010) reveals: “Mr Dudley is widely respected within the company, and from a PR point of view, it might help that he is American, not British. BP has often been described as “Public Enemy Number One” in the US since the oil spill. Now that the company is to be run by an American, it could help it in its battle to rebuild its reputation in the US”. In coherence with Hofestede (1978), this assumption underlines the implications of national distance on leadership recognition and recruitment.

The Christian Science Monitor (2010) also reports “BP’s voice in America will no longer come with a British accent attached”. The Christian Science Monitor (2010) also indicates:

“He’s been in the frying pan. Dudley is no stranger to tough situations. The oil business these days involves working in difficult terrain, whether that’s in physical terms (a mile below the sea’s surface) or politically. His work has taken him to the South China Sea, Angola, Algeria, and Egypt.

He’s been in the fire. He won’t bring fresh eyes to the Gulf. He’s already been one of BP’s point men there – helping to orchestrate the failed “top kill” and other efforts to plug the wellhead leak. His new role simply formalizes something chairman Svanberg had already announced – that Hayward would soon relinquish day-to-day management of the spill response.

He’s has shown some care with words. This is important, because BP has both a public-image problem and legal challenges – and those two things can tug a corporate spokesman in different ways. One calls for an air of forthrightness, the other for caution.”

In accordance with these empirical evidences a crisis management requires contingency theory can explain leadership style. In this situation there is a unique way to lead a company, but the optimal course of action depends upon the internal and external situation (Mintzberg, 1979).

However, another criticism from Bob Dudley’ s leadership style related to high ethical and moral issues. This aspect emerges with his previous experiences in Russia area.


2.3 Barack Obama

The new leader of US, Barack Obama has signalled the intention to assign criminal charges in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Mr Obama said his government would do whatever it takes to clean up the oil, adding that BP was responsible and must pay.

This approach can be equate the position of Obama to that of a leader of social justice.

However, there some critical aspects:

a. the social media describe that Obama was playing golf during the oil crises;

b. the majority of Americans disapprove of how Mr Obama has managed the crisis;

c. the Republicans accuse Mr Obama of exploiting the crisis for his own political gain.

“We’re dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

“The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states.

“And it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardise the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home.”

, pledging to “bring those responsible to justice” if laws were broken. President Barack Obama sharpened his criticism of BP Plc and pressed the energy giant to halt the oil gushing from its ruptured well.

President Barack Obama has been criticised for playing golf while the BP oil spill disaster continues Barack Obama has been criticised for continuing to play golf while oil spills into the Gulf of Mexico. He has played at least seven times since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, creating America’s biggest environmental disaster. Having already racked up 39 games since taking office, Mr Obama is approaching the record as the U.S. President spending the most time on the golf course. Republican Party chairman Michael Steele has called on the President to stop playing until the oil leak has been curbed. Steele said…

Speaking in Louisiana,.

He said the focus was now on preventing any further damage to the Gulf coast.

BP says it will be at least a week before temporary measures to stem the leak are in place.

But it could take up to three months to drill relief wells that could fully contain the spillage, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar warned on Sunday.

The Deepwater Horizon rig, which was carrying out work on behalf of BP, sank on 22 April, two days after a huge explosion that killed 11 workers.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has warned the spill threatens the way of life in his state.

Mr Obama flew to Louisiana on Sunday to see for himself the damage.

Speaking in the town of Venice, he said: “We’re dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

“The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states.

“And it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardise the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home.”

Presidents use Oval Office addresses for what they regard as vital national issues.

The speech came as opinion polls suggest a majority of Americans disapprove of how Mr Obama has handled the crisis – the worst environmental disaster in US history.

The Republicans were quick to criticise the address, with party chairman Michael Steele accusing Mr Obama of exploiting the crisis for his own political gain.

on US politicians Obama Barack, with assumption rather then emphasis on logical argument by ..the accident failure was systematic in actually fact was caused by human errs, rapidly become clear that there was not much effort have put in place. Unfortunately for those undergoing pain in the gulf seems to be that the process does not include process urgency . it could well prove that the democratic leadership need to make clear their accountability for decisions .A majority problem with democratic leader styles is the senior managers are willing to give up the power, means the workplace are complex and highly contested issue in which makes democratic approaches to leadership extremely problematic.

We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong and to determine what reforms are needed so that we never have to experience a crisis like this again,” said Mr Obama.

“If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed.

“If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.”

, and US president

BP has servel Chief Executive, but they did not be able to demonstrate and contribute to the problem solve and produce a desired results.

In 2007 it was indruce to the company a new leader tony haywood in a which took a place of browne, haywood had the necessary ability and knowledge to drive to company to success. Great leader are made not born.

The satisfaction of employees and communication was effective .indeed his inspiration been put in place and focus in company… number of research show that Haywood are high on….and less demand the actually factors more specific was in leader’s behaviour charateristic . The leader has such difficulty In focus on systems maintenances, and meet the work criteria in which cause numbers of castrophry, disaster and left eleven people without live. Unwillingness in leaders is composed of negative associate with productivity subordinate.

The factors analysis produced two understandably behaviour dimensions, and differences in these behaviours associate to effectiveness. One series of studies has collect date, however, according to theory enhance a subordinate perception of a link between the effort and outcomes.

The leadership styles did not providing opportunities for consultation special managers and (staff in this system management) the relationship between leader and mangers wasn’t based on trust, seemed forgotten to inspire their subordinates to do thing behind the capabilities, the key issue of these..were in communication and make the vision affect.

The direct in charge of oil in gulf in clean BOB Dudley in which has been working in the field for such long but not long ago enjoy working for BP with position of managing, direct point out that tony has genuine differences, he moved a company forward also mention that there’s not suggestion that he acted improperly without knowledge that organization will face problem in the future “history”. In reality, it damage not just the company “BP” but also have server impact environmental crises, to the tourism, hospitals and industry wildlife…. In short time James lee and the new Chief Executive managed to clean the oil after eight seven days.

But still evidence that the new cap place stemming of the oil flow the incident comes to attention the interesting styles and chacteristics ” come from””

Some studies have shown that

Compare with tony which fail to set higer but reasonable standard and demand so that the other accept their responsibilities

.. It can been seen neither of them connect between effort and outcomes, its admitted that…

It can been see the failures are result of the dark side of charismatic leadership

distinction between managers and leader when Bob Dudley

Another criticism from Bob Dudley ….

high ethical and moral standards.

Seems be to that the leader was not able to perform is fuction

Feishman by harris 1969

The accident occurred on 20th April 2010 it was due to maintains Jon Swaine and Robert winnett 05 june 2010

Bernard L. Weinstein Tom Talk Friday jully 2010 the Washington times


Bob Dudley

Bob Dudley managing to

How long did it take to clean up?

Have been emerged that

Mark Langford Tuesday july 27

ï‚· The Guardian, Friday 14 May 2010

Barack Obamal

Why did tony haywood tried to resign

The fact he has been threet also the shareholder called to

instant communication and intense competitive pressure, good,


The investigation have been done there’s not a such evidence such intent in which require court order, it conduct to a conclusion available or clear According to result suggest that the actually leadership was, While some leaders use …constructively others destrying them, according to research the leader or organization wasn’t a strong culture otherwise would not exist at all the other way around better even excellent company performe, the commit to met a positive response but the result was castrophry

Now Bob Dudley is a new which guarantee BP have that will do a better job?


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