Engineering Ethics: BP Oil Spill

1387 Words 6 Pages
Macy Monnin
Engineering Ethics Final Paper

On April 20, 2010, an oil spill on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon took place. To date, the oil spill is the largest in history, and was caused by a multitude of factors. In February 2009, British Petroleum (BP), proposed a plan to drill in the Macondo well to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). The Macondo well is off the coast of Louisiana, in the Gulf of Mexico (http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/161185/). BP was looking to expand their oil drilling, which was the motivation for proposing their idea to the MMS. BP reported that it is “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities” (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bp-didnt-plan-for-major-oil-spill/).
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Virtue ethics is a moral theory, where the primary question is “What sort of person should I be?” rather than “What is the right thing to do?” Virtue ethics focuses on excellence of character rather than right conduct. Looking at this decision using virtue ethics, first one points out qualities of a virtuous person. These would include honesty, loyalty, and selflessness. The virtuous person, in this case, would tell BP to spend the $128,000 and spend the time to conduct the cement test, so the safety of the rig and drilling operations can be confirmed. They would not allow BP to take the shortcut, because they would care about the workers on the rig before his/herself (Dr. Mason’s Virtue Ethics notes in …show more content…
On April 21, the Coast Guard admiral estimated the environmental threat of the explosion was upwards of 700,000 gallons of oil, which was on board, and about 8,000 barrels of crude oil per day were still permeating the Gulf. On April 22, after burning for 2 days, Deepwater Horizon sinks into 5,000 feet of water. On April 24, 2010, leaks were discovered by a robotic submarine, where it was estimated to be leaking at a rate of 1,000 barrels per day. The oil had spread to an area of 20x20 miles. Despite continued efforts, the well leaked until July 15, 87 days since it began, at extraordinarily high rates. In total, roughly 4.2 million barrels of crude oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico and its surrounding area. A formal investigation on this accident began shortly after the accident

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