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BP´s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010 Essay

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Introduction The purpose of this paper is to examine one of the largest offshore oil spills in U.S. history, BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. This paper seeks to investigate closely the system and the reasons of failure, to answer the questions behind numerous studies on this accident, Is Deepwater Horizon explosion inevitable? and What can we do to avoid such accidents? Within the scope of Perrow’s normal accident theory, this paper aims to draw conclusions to the above questions and set forth recommendations to be considered in other similar oil drilling systems.
Case background On April 20, 2010, BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, claiming the lives of eleven people and injuring 17 others. The fire continued for
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Accidents that result from the confluence of these two attributes are considered “normal accident” as they are inevitable, given the level of complexity and tight coupling inherent in the system (Perrow, 1999). A high level of interconnectedness between system components, reliance on indirect information sources, an unpredictable environment, or incomprehensibility of a system to its operators indicates complexity within a system (Perrow, 1999). Since systems are designed, run and built by humans, they cannot be perfect. Every part of the system is subject to failure; the design can be faulty, as can the equipment, the procedures, the operators, the supplies, and the environment. Since nothing is perfect, humans build in safeguards, such as redundancies, buffers, and alarms that tell operators to take corrective action. But occasionally two or more failures can interact in ways that could not be anticipated. These unexpected interactions of failures can defeat the safeguards, and if the system is also “tightly coupled” thus allowing failures to cascade, it can bring down a part or all of system. The vulnerability to unexpected interactions that defeat safety systems is an inherent part of highly complex systems; they cannot avoid this (Perrow, 1984).
On the other hand, tight coupling is often indicated by a tendency within the technical system for small failures to be magnified and instigate major failures elsewhere in the system with
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