Public Administration British Petroleum BP Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Nowadays, the idea that offshore drilling is safe seems ridiculous. The Gulf spill nowhere compares to drilling disasters that have occurred before including one off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. In 1969 that discarded three million gallons into coastal waters and led to the present moratorium. The Deepwater Horizon calamity is a standard low probability, high impact event. It is the kind that has been seen more and more recently (Mcquaid, 2010).

The consequences of this spill are only beginning to be seen, as the exact causes of the initial explosion on the drilling platform and the malfunction of a blowout preventer to deploy on the sea floor probably won't be ascertained for many weeks or months to come. But the summary of many serious universal problems have already emerged, indicating just how misleading the idea of risk-free drilling really was, while uncovering some potential areas for reform. These mistakes include weak government oversight of the compound technical challenge of drilling deep wells many miles under the ocean surface and BP's collapse to evaluate or even consider any worst-case scenarios (Mcquaid, 2010).

A blowout on an oil rig happens when some mixture of pressurized natural gas, oil, mud, and water gets away from a well, shoots up the drill pipe to the exterior, expands and catches on fire. Wells are outfitted with structures called blowout preventers that sit on the wellhead and are theoretically supposed to shut off that flow and tamp the well. Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer failed to work as it should have. Two switches, one that was manual and one that was an automatic backup, both failed to initiate it. When such disastrous mechanical failures occur, they're almost always figured out that there were flaws in the broader system. This could include the personnel on the platform, the corporate hierarchies they work for, or the government administrations that oversee what they do (Mcquaid, 2010).

There appears to be a problem with fragmentation of responsibility. Although Deepwater Horizon was BP's operation, BP rented the platform from Transocean, and Halliburton was doing the deepwater work when the blowout happened. Each of these companies had fundamentally different goals. BP wanted access to the hydrocarbon resources that feed their refinery and distribution network. Halliburton provided oil field services. Transocean drove drill rig. Each had different operating processes and different objectives. The more intense problem seems to be the failure of the companies to put the risks in view. BP and other companies tend to gauge safety and environmental conformity on a day-to-day, checklist basis. This is almost done to the position of basing executive bonuses on those metrics. But even if worker accident rates fall to zero, that may reveal nothing about the risk of a major disaster (Mcquaid, 2010).

Oil giant BP has held responsible porous cement, failed safety valves and a string of poor decisions by workers for the explosion of the Macondo well. Transocean has criticized the report, calling it an attempt to hide the real cause of the explosion. The company, which owns the oil rig, has blamed the disaster on what it portrays as BP's seriously flawed well design. In both its design and structure, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that amplified the risk and in some cases severely compromised the quality (BP: 'Sequence of failures' caused Gulf oil spill, 2010).

These things lead to some fundamental problems that need to be looked at in response to the Gulf oil spill. The company needs to re-evaluate their policies in regards to cost saving decisions in order to ensure that these types of decisions are not jeopardizing overall safety. They also need to look at what outside resources that they are using and have a plan in place to make sure that all outside companies being utilized are the best that there is. The qualities of these outside products are, in the end, vital to the safety of their overall projects. The last thing that BP needs to change is that they need to have a better disaster plan in place to deal with things like that if they should ever happen again. It did not seem that when this happened that they had much of a plan on what they should be doing and when.

The organizational development intervention that BP should use to implement the changes that they need to is that of Technostructural Interventions. Technostructural interventions center on improving the organizational success and human development by focusing on technology and structure. These interventions are entrenched in the fields of engineering, sociology, and psychology, combined with socio-technical systems and job investigation and design. These kinds of interventions rely on a shortage based approach. The goal is to find problems to solve. Technostructural advances focus on improving an organization's technology like task methods and job design along with structure like division of labor and hierarchy. Technostructural interventions include: organizational structure, organization systems, business process redesign, space and physical settings, socio-technical systems, change management, job design / enrichment, competency-based management, knowledge management and organizational learning (Organizational development (OD) interventions: Managing systematic change in organizations, 2009).

The main focus in techno-structural intervention, which deals with the restructuring of the organization, is the restructuring of the workload of the overall organization in to subunits for completion of the task effectively. Restructuring can be performed on at least five major factors, environment, organization size, technology, and organization strategy and world wide operation. The second other major factor of techno structural intervention is the employees' involvement and the final component of intervention is work design, broadly speaking work design is of two types, one is of scientific management which is task oriented, the other type of work design is motivational approach (Imran and Aslam, 2010).

Changes must be undertaken systematically. The success ratio for the change increase greatly, when we use the proper model of planned change. In spite of all the planning and development change never successfully happened and mostly the reason behind this failure is resistance. To overcome the conflict and for the success of change numerous factors can pressure, these can be management participation and support, employees' participation, information sharing and the most important is leadership. The sequenced, planned, organized and managed from the top changes are called the interventions. While designing intervention, concept of effective intervention has much importance which describes that effective intervention is providing the free and informed choice to the employees by the organization (Imran and Aslam, 2010).

While putting together some interventions, individual differences like skills, knowledge, and a need for autonomy, organization factors like management structure, Employees and culture and dimension of change process like management support, employees' involvement and power must be considered. While implementing interventions in the organization, there are four major options that are available and considered strategic interventions. Strategic involvement is of broader term describes the corporate as well as business level strategic intervention like cultural change, strategic change, self design organization, and integrate strategic management (Imran and Aslam, 2010).

In order for BP to do all that they can to prevent a disaster like the Gulf oil spill from ever happening again, they have to implement organizational change. They have to change the way that communication is handled within their company as there has been tremendous evidence that this was an issue with the disaster. They must also put together a good what if disaster plan so that they can know what to do and when to do it a whole lot sooner than they did this time.

If they work to make the improvements that are needed then they may begin to start regaining the confidence of their stakeholders. In the end the stakeholders want to know that the company that they have invested in is successful. They want to get a good return on their investment and know that they have chosen the right company in which to put their money. A company should make their most important goal to make sure that they deliver the most that they can to their stakeholders and they the live up to their end of the bargain.


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