Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2010 (Revised May 2012)

Drilling Safety at BP: The Deepwater Horizon Accident

by Stephen P. Kaufman and Laura Winig


Following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill on the Deepwater Horizon, public attention focused on BP's safety record, practices, and management culture as the primary cause of the disaster. Drawing on public sources this case traces the circumstances surrounding the accident, including not only the role of BP, but also of the two principle sub-contractors hired to actually do the drilling and capping of the oil well (Transocean Ltd and Halliburton Energy Services). The case examines BP's safety record and prior accidents at a refinery in Houston in 2005 and along a pipeline in Alaska in 2006, and describes managerial changes imposed by the Board of Directors and safety programs instituted by Tony Hayward, the new CEO installed in 2007.

Keywords: Non-Renewable Energy; Management Practices and Processes; Managerial Roles; Business Processes; Organizational Culture; Practice; Safety; Energy Industry; Mexico, Gulf of;


Kaufman, Stephen P., and Laura Winig. "Drilling Safety at BP: The Deepwater Horizon Accident." Harvard Business School Case 611-017, October 2010. (Revised May 2012.)