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What Can We Learn from the 2010 BP Oil Spill?: Five Important Corporate Law and Life Lessons


Joseph Karl Grant


Florida A&M University - College of Law

November 2, 2010

McGeorge Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 809, 2011

Abstract:     
The BP oil spill was one of the biggest media topics during the spring and summer of 2010. Oil leaked from the damaged well for over 100 days. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was so bad that some were discussing the nuclear option - literally using a nuclear explosion to stop the oil from leaking. Now, this might seem like a laughable solution, but at the time some armchair engineers were discussing the option.

We have not even reached the first anniversary of the spill and several books on the topic have been bought by publishers relating to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and several more proposals are circulating. This story riveted our nation, if the book contracts are any indications. This article is a contribution to the literature and scholarship on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. What can we learn from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Reflecting on the monumental events we witnessed during the spring and summer of 2010, as a student of corporate law and governance, and life, for me the BP saga conveys five (5) readily discernable corporate law/governance and life lessons. These five (5) lessons are as follows: Lesson One: If you lie, or are perceived to be lying, or make an inaccurate statement people will lose trust in you; Lesson Two: We are judged based on how we react in times of crisis and not comfort; Lesson Three: The Emperor or King may be toppled; Lesson Four: Regulators and the regulated make for strange bedfellows - we must vigilantly guard against regulatory capture; and Lesson Five: Your Big Brother or Sister can and will twist your arm when he or she has a chance.

In order to place these lessons in context, I draw on quotations to frame the discussion, and hopefully your thinking and analysis. These five lessons are illustrated in this article. Hopefully, you will take these and other lessons away from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Date posted: November 4, 2010 ; Last revised: September 8, 2011

Suggested Citation

Grant, Joseph Karl, What Can We Learn from the 2010 BP Oil Spill?: Five Important Corporate Law and Life Lessons (November 2, 2010). McGeorge Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 809, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1701892

Contact Information

Joseph Karl Grant (Contact Author)
Florida A&M University - College of Law ( email )
201 Beggs Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
United States
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