The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG045
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 1989-2004
Pub. Date : 2005
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Exxon
Industry : Petroleum and Petrochemicals
Countries : US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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Introduction Contd...

The company has also made a number of changes in its operating procedures to prevent an accident from happening again. For these reasons we do not believe punitive damages are warranted in this case."7

The Accident

Exxon marketed a wide range of petroleum products globally.

The company's other businesses included mining of coal and minerals, and manufacture of electronic motors and electrical equipment. Over the years, the company continued to perform well (Refer Exhibit III for ExxonMobil's Financial Performance for the fiscal 1999-2003).

On March 23, 1989, the EV left the Alaska terminal at around 9:12 pm (Alaska Standard Time) to its next destination - Long Beach, California. It was loaded with 53,094,510 gallons of crude oil.

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The crew comprising 19 persons, included Capt. Joseph Hazelwood (Hazelwood), Second Mate Lloyd LeCain (LeCain), Third Mate Gregory Cousins (Cousins), Chief Mate James R. Kunkel (Kunkel), marine pilot William Murphy (Murphy), chief engineer Jerry Glowacki (Glowacki), radio officer Joel Roberson (Roberson), and lookout Maureen Jones (Jones).

Cousins carried out the required navigational, safety and maintenance tests and found all the systems in working condition. At 11:25 pm, Hazelwood informed the Valdez Vessel Traffic Center (VVTC)8 that the ship was accelerating at sea speed and that the EV would probably divert from the traffic separation scheme (TSS)9 and move to the inbound lane if there was no conflicting traffic. As growlers10 from nearby Columbia Glacier occasionally entered the traffic lanes, Hazelwood had the choice of either slowing down to push through them safely or of deviating from their lanes if traffic permitted. To avoid the growlers, Hazelwood decided to change the course of EV from the western, outbound lane, by crossing the separation zone and entering the eastern, inbound lane...

Excerpts >>

7] Phillips, Natalie, 'Years later spill's toll still rising,' www.adn.com, May 13, 1999.

8] VVTC collects, verifies and disseminates information relating to the safe navigation of vessels in PWS.

9] The TSS allows separation of incoming and outgoing tankers in Prince William Sound in order to keep them in clear, deep waters during their transit. It consists of inbound and outbound lanes, with a half-mile-wide separation zone between them.

10] Growlers are chunks of ice from glaciers that make growling sound when they knock against ship's hull.

 

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