Essays on Oil Spill Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico Case Study

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The paper 'Oil Spill Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico' is a wonderful example of a Business Case Study. On 20 April 2010, fire exploded in the Gulf of Mexico engulfing the Deepwater Horizon petroleum-drilling rig. Eleven platform workers were killed and 7 others injured. The rig, that was valued at $560 million, sank almost 5,000 feet deep into the water on 22 April 2010 after burning for hours (Telegraph). As a result, extensive oil slick leaked for 9 months. Statistics indicate that more than 4.9 million oil barrels leaked before the well were contained, from 22 April to 6 Aug (UNEP).

Analysts, political and environmental experts raised concerns over the amount of oil that had been spilled and the extent of damage due to the impacts of the oil on the environment. Strange’ s (64b) theory of structural power can be used to examine how power operated in the situation, who should have been accountable, who accepted responsibility for the spill and who bore the cost of the disaster. This essay shows that a shift in the balance of power from the US government to market forces contributed to confusion in the oil and gas industry that contributed to the BP oil spill disaster.     Analysis of how power operated in this situation In relation to the case of the BP oil spill disaster, different forms of power existed.

Additionally, power was used in a range of ways. Before reaching an assumption, it is critical to examine the concept of power according to the fundamental perspectives of power. According to May (1-3), Strange’ s theory of structural power can be understood in two ways. First is the instrumental sense or what the power does and second is the procedural sense, or how power does it.

Hence, the concept of power at BP should be understood in terms of what it was used for and what it did. The individuals and groups that desired power in the case included the government, BP, and BP’ s partners (Transocean and Halliburton). The three key players sought power for different ends. While the government sought power for political ends, the BP, Transocean, and Halliburton sought power for economic ends.

As stated by Clegg (8), power is the production of desired or targeted effects. Clegg (8) further argued that where there are no social institutions to restrict the number of those whom power should be made possible, individuals who desire power most are those who are most likely to acquire it. Blau (117) showed that power is an attribute that exists in the taking. According to Blau (117-119), power refers to the ability of individuals or groups to enforce “ their will” on others. Here, “ their will” refers to the “ desired or targeted effects. ” Blau (119) stated that power in relationships can be described using four basic elements.

These include, where will is enforced, there may be a likelihood of exacting a cost. Second, benefits are obtainable from elsewhere. Third, the force can be used to obtain the desired benefits or to resist removing the benefits. Fourth, relational benefits can be repudiated. To this end, since BP, Transocean and Halliburton wielded different kinds of power at the time; it is possible that they also contributed to the disaster to certain degrees.

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Dyrber, Torben. The Circular Structure of Power: Politics, Identity, Community. Verso: London, 1997. pp.20

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Goldenberg, Susan. "BP cost-cutting blamed for 'avoidable' Deepwater Horizon oil spill." The Guardian, 2011. 19 April 2014,

May, Christopher. “Strange Fruit: Susan Strange's Theory of Structural Power in the International Political Economy." Global Society 6.2 (1996): 1-13

Lorenzi, Maximillano. Power: A Radical View by Steven Lukes. Crossroads 2.2 (2006): 87-95

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Strange, Susan. “States, firms and diplomacy. International Affairs.” Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-, 68.1 (1992): 1-15

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Telegraph, the. "Gulf of Mexico oil spill: timeline." The Telegraph, 2010. 19 April 2014,

UNEP. The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: the World’s Largest Accidental Offshore Oil: Why is this issue important?. UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service 2010. 19 April 20104,

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