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Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reckless Pursuit of Profit

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The definitive account of how BP's win-at-all-costs culture led to this era's greatest industrial catastrophe "A carefully and powerfully written story."
Financial Times

"When an author uses a loaded word like 'reckless' in a book's title, the burden of proof is high. . . . Steffy meets the burden by demonstrating that corporate behemoth BP (formerly British Petroleum)
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published November 26th 2010 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published November 5th 2010)
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Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Americans blaming foreigners for all their misfortunes - sad, but typical. This book recounts the failures of BP in the years leading up to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The author, an apparent Houston Energy/Oil expert Loren Steffy, claims that their focus on cost-cutting, hazy management structure and improper safety procedures were the main reason for the high number of fatalities in BP facilities in from 2004 to 2010.
Personally, I dont buy this kind of American tunnel-vision writing. E
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
While this book looked at BP'S many failings I feel it left Transocean the drilling contractor off the hook. As somebody who works on a drilling rig I have some very serious questions about the failure of numerous safety systems on transoceans rig. The author has chose to focus almost soley on BP and gloss over the failings of other parties. Transocean has a similar goal/ budget driven operational practise as BP. While the fact that the well kicked back may well be BP's cut cost design's fault t ...more
Mandy Moody
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Drowning in Oil was incredibly interesting and well written. I found it very informative without ever being dry. Steffy's knowledge and background in the industry made him the perfect person to write this book. His experience as a journalist paid off with absolutely stellar descriptions. I've never read a non-fiction that made you feel as if you were in the middle of the action the way this one did.
I also felt like the writing remained non-judgmental, in spite of being clear about who was to bla
Martha Samsell
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
History of BP and the acquisition of Standard Oil. Includes the accidents by the company and the names of the lives lost.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shocking description of how such big corporations are run.
Douglas Green
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book, felt like each chapter ended with a little less detail than I wanted.
Patrick Kozlowski
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book I read was Drowning in Oil by Loren C. Steffy. This is a nonfiction book that not only details the Deepwater Horizon accident (known as the Gulf Oil Spill), but also the events leading up to it. It goes over the very beginning of the company, and details previous accidents that were BP’s fault, such as the Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005. However its main focus is on the Deepwater Horizon, and the causes of the disaster. This was an informative book, although it could be dry at ti ...more
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Don't let the corny name fool you, this book provides an excellent analysis of BP's corporate culture under former CEO John Browne and how that culture culminated in the explosion at BP's Texas City refinery, BP's pipeline spill in Alaska, and the blowout of the Macando well. Browne emphasized cost-cutting above all else, which resulted in a neglect of proper safety procedures and a decline in BP's engineering capability. I enjoyed this book because the author incorporated biographical elements ...more
Michael O'Loughlin
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Loren Steffy’s Drowning in Oil, published by McGraw Hill is a historical look at the rise of BP and the other major oil companies and their endless pursuit of profits. It takes an objective look at the BP culture first created by John Browne and then perpetuated by Anthony Hayward, and how this culture of profit-driven decision making led to such an unsafe work environment that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was bound to happen. It also takes a look at the lack of proper oversight on the part o ...more
John Branney
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a very good read and a good overview of the culture of BP. Having spent 34 years on the global oil services industry I found a few technical errors in the reading that lowered my confidence in the rest of the book. For example, the author completely mutilated page 159, all beginning with the statement that oil was heavier than water. Unfortunately that is a critical mistake when discussing the technical nature of the blowout. The author also mutilated topics on casing and perf ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
The author shows the reader the systematic failures of BP in terms of safety, and how the company culture contributed to numerous disasters and deaths, not just the most recent oil spill. I do wish that the author had included a diagram that shows where all the different parts of the rig are, but readers can also do that on their own. I hope the disconnect between corporate actions and government regulation is corrected.
Jean Shoup
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An interesting account of what happened with the Deep Water Horizon explosion in the Gulf and BP as a company and their culture. In many ways the book helps the reader understand a little more clearly how intertwined Big Oil is in the government both federal and state and in the interdependence we all share as citizens.
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very informative. And from my close experience of BP over the last 7 years I'm pretty sure not much has changed, even in the last few years. But then there are a lot of narrow minded people in the industry making important decisions. It will be someone else's turn next. The U.S. needs to look at the UK/ European approach to HSE and learn from that. But it costs too much money....
Diane C.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
For a compelling blow by blow description of the people and events in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, was well as a use friendly education of general info regarding underwater oil drilling and the companies who do it, this is a great book!
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This book gives an interesting account of the development of BP.
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good look at how culture tangibly influences a company.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Interesting, but oddly pro-ExxonMobil.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
This book shows why my job stays busy and is important. Well-written and reported, I expect it will be an award winner (Pulitzer?)
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Loren Steffy is the author of George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet (to be published in October 2019), The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, and Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit. He is a writer at large for Texas Monthly, an executive producer for Rational Middle Media and a former business columnist for the Houston Chronicle.


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