Deepwater Horizon oil spill, USA

Description
On 20 April 2010, the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in US waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 11 workers were killed in the explosion and 17 injured. The rig was owned by Transocean on lease to BP, which was the main operator and developer of the site, with Anadarko Petroleum and MOEX Offshore (part of Mitsui Oil Exploration) as minority co-owners. Work on the well had been performed just before the explosion by Halliburton. The 'blowout preventer' was built by Cameron International. On 22 April, the rig sank. Oil leaked from the ruptured well head until 15 July when it was temporarily stopped; approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil had leaked into the Gulf. On 19 September 2010, the US government declared the well 'effectively dead'. Oil directly affected coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. People dependent on fishing and tourism have been severely affected, along with those in other industries, including some farther from the Gulf Coast. Concerns have also been raised in relation to health hazards for clean-up workers and coastal residents, including harms allegedly caused by chemicals used to disperse the oil (made by Nalco).

Basic Data
NameDeepwater Horizon oil spill, USA
CountryUnited States of America
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOil leaked from the ruptured well head until 15 July when it was temporarily stopped; approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil had leaked into the Gulf.

Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date20/04/2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesAnadarko Petroleum Corporation from United States of America
BP
Cameron International from United States of America
Halliburton from United States of America
MOEX Offshore from Japan - part of Mitsui Oil Exploration
Mitsui & Co., Ltd. from Japan
Transocean from Switzerland
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFishermen
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
NGOs
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The explosion and spill have given rise to many lawsuits. By early December 2010, hundreds of lawsuits had been filed against the companies involved. Lawsuits have been brought in both federal and state courts.

On 15 December 2010, the US Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against BP, Transocean, Anadarko, MOEX (part of Mitsui Oil Exploration) and the insurer of the rig QBE Underwriting/Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036 (part of Lloyds of London). The lawsuit will be included in the consolidated proceedings and includes claims under the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act. On 15 November 2012 BP announced it had reached a $4.5 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission. BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges and to pay a $1.26 billion fine to the Department of Justice. The company will also pay $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. BP will also pay $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sources and Materials
References

'BP Oil Spill Lawsuits and Legal Issues', David Goguen, NOLO, Aug 2010

'BP Still Faces Probes, Fines', Guy Chazan, Wall Street Journal, 20 Sep 2010

'Control of Oil Spill Compensation Fund Shifts to Independent Administrator', Andrew Restuccia, Washington Independent, 23 Aug 2010

'Oil Well Is Almost Dead but Legal Wrangling Just Beginning for BP', Lea Winerman, PBS NewsHour, 17 Aug 2010

'Criminal probe of oil spill to focus on 3 firms and their ties to regulators', Jerry Markon, Washington Post, 28 Jul 2010

'Legal fallout from Gulf oil spill as massive as the catastrophe itself', Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jul 2010

'BP hit by avalanche of compensation claims over US oil spill', Andrew Clark, Guardian (UK), 31 May 2010

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ContributorElodie Aba
Last update08/04/2014
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