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Politics Essay

9068 words - 37 pages

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE BP
OIL SPILL RESPONSE AND
PREPAREDNESS PLAN FOR THE
DEEP HORIZON – WHY DID IT
FAIL?
Toni Josina Elfrieda Beukes*
May 2012†

ABSTRACT: Based on events that unfolded in the U.S. in the weeks and subsequently
months of the Macondo well blow-out, it is clear that neither industry nor government
was equipped to deal with a spill the scale and complexity of the Deepwater Horizon
disaster. As one of its key recommendations to President Obama for addressing the
causes and consequences of the spill, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill in its final report, stated the need for “strengthening oil spill response,
planning and capacity”. ...view middle of the document...

*

At the time of writing, the author was completing an MBA in International Oil and Gas Management
degree at the CEPMLP, University of Dundee, UK. Prior to this, she worked as Corporate Legal Advisor
and Company Secretary at the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) and as Legal
Counsel for Mondi Ltd in Johannesburg, South Africa. She also consults for Oranto Petroleum (Nigeria)
and Indigenous Energy (Namibia) on their respective exploration interests in Namibia.
Email: t.j.e.beukes@dundee.ac.uk or toni.beukes@gmail.com

Published in CEPMLP Annual Review - CAR Volume 16 (2013) Editor-in-Chief: Wendy Treasure

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABBREVIATIONS ......................................................................................................... 3
1

INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................... 5

2

OIL SPILL RESPONSE AND PREPAREDNESS PLANNING ............................... 6
2.1
2.2

3

Risk Assessment Tools in developing Spill Response and Preparedness Plans ... 6
The Criteria for testing the veracity of Spill Response and Preparedness Plans .. 8

ASSESSMENT OF THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK ................................................ 10
3.1
3.2

4

Applicable International Conventions .............................................................. 10
United States Environmental Legislation ......................................................... 12

AN ANALYSIS OF THE BP OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN ............................... 16
4.1
4.2

5

Did it comply with applicable International and Domestic Regulations? .......... 16
Was the Plan appropriate for the operations in the GOM?................................ 19

FINDINGS ............................................................................................................. 20
5.1
5.2

Technological Constraints ............................................................................... 22

5.3
6

Risk Assessment Issues ................................................................................... 20

Role of Government ........................................................................................ 23

CONCLUSION ...................................................................................................... 24

BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................................................................................................... 26

2

ABBREVIATIONS
BAST

Best Available and Safest Technology

BOEMRE

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and
Enforcement

BOP

Blowout Preventer

BP

British Petroleum

CWA

Clean Water Act

DHSG

Deep Horizon Study Group

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

FEMA

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

FWPCA

Federal Water Pollution Control Act 1948/72

GOM

Gulf of Mexico

MARPOL

International Convention for the Prevention of...

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