Just heard the news that BP has won a reprieve over its Gulf of Mexico pay-outs. Since the Macondo disaster BP has paid out £7.8bn in compensation and estimates suggest that this could have risen to £9.6bn in the future! This cost has already damaged the company and no ability to quantify its liability could damage it further.
Now I don’t have much sympathy with how BP got themselves in this situation – the Macondo blow-out was a terrible event where 11 individuals lost their lives and where many others lost their livelihood.
And the whole disaster was a case study on how not to collaborate. David and I have followed the case from the very beginning, through the many reviews into the causes for the failures and now to the on-going costs. We have written about the risks at the interfaces between organisations that have to collaborate and the need to actively manage these ‘relationship risks’.
So why do I feel some sympathy for BP at this time. I guess that two wrongs don’t make a right, if the claims are unfounded from individuals who were not materially affected by the impact of the disaster then BP is not liable. But, on the other hand, BP has to now be able to prove that it has taken the medicine of change and is building constructive collaborations with its partners that avoid relationship risks becoming the future disaster that could ruin the company.