BP’s Deepwater Horizon tragedy in April 2010 exposed the need for oil and gas companies to accept inherent risks and strive to better management of these risks in the industry in order to avoid future failures.


A detailed four-page article in the July-August issue of Ethical Corporation magazine argues that in light of the US’s worst environmental disaster, oil and gas companies and their contractors need to better performance standards and management throughout the industry.


“Deepwater Horizon was a wake-up call, demonstrating that devastating (and preventable) failures can happen even in developed countries with high levels of civil society awareness and ostensibly effective regulatory regimes,” authors Judy Kuszewski and Emma Wilson state in the article.

To achieve the necessary improvements, the oil and gas industry must address the challenges of working in difficult environments, managing contractors and subcontractors and meeting a variety of internal and international standards, according to the article.

The article points to environment as one of the biggest challenges that companies face today, detailing how today companies operate in remote locations and simultaneously strive to avoid environmental damage.  Furthermore, companies must cope with oil rich countries that struggle with low technical capacity and high corruption.

Employing contractors and subcontracts to work on site also presents challenges in terms of holding outside companies responsible for maintaining high standards while delivering results, states the article. This is especially important considering that about 75 percent of industry operations are currently performed by service providers and their subcontractors.

To prevent disasters, oil and gas companies must also work to meet national legislation and regulations by improving and consistently applying existing standards, explains the article.  BP’s accident investigation report emphasised clarifying its standards among its 25 recommendations to avoid future disasters, according to the article.

To successfully face these present challenges, the article asserts that the industry must move away from what the US national commission on the Deepwater Horizon incident referred to as “culture of complacency”.

Ultimately, the report asserts that oil companies need to stop relying on standards and commitments made on paper; instead, these companies need to encourage support and shared responsibility throughout to be prepared for future challenges.

To read the full article, go here


Ethical Corporation was established in 2001 and provides business intelligence for sustainability to more than 3,000 multinational companies every year. Ethical Corporation publishes the leading responsible business magazine, website, and research reports.  

For more information on this briefing or Ethical Corporation contact:

Liam Dowd
Marketing Manager
Ethical Corporation: Business Intelligence for Sustainability
+44 (0)207 375 7238


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