Sunday, November 22, 2015

ExxonMobil: Earthquakes from Oil Fracking (2013)

ExxonMobile logo
Exxon-Mobil has been a controversial company since it opened for business. The latest controversy surrounding the company is the earthquakes that are being caused by fracking operations since 2013. The regulators have started to investigate the company for causing earthquakes with the use of its disposal of waste-water through injection wells in its home country United States of America and many other countries around the world. Since 2013, the quantity and the intensity of the earthquakes has been increasing. In 2014 alone there were over a dozen earthquakes in Dallas and Fort Worth areas of Texas. Netherlands has also experienced the same problem due to Exxon-Mobil's operations and has been ordered to pay millions of dollars for causing damages to properties near the operation sites.
Even though there is tremendous amounts of research available on fracking and its effects on the environment, the company refuses to admit it is doing anything wrong. In its defense, the company says that the earthquakes were triggered due to natural causes and there is not enough evidence to link earthquakes to the use of injection wells for disposal of the injection wells. In any case, the regulators have ordered the company to shutdown various of its injection well and ordered it to investigate the cause of the earthquakes.

In Exxon-Mobil’s case the biggest stakeholders are the company’s shareholders. These shareholders are investing their money and resources in the company so they can get some type of return from it and these are the stakeholders that have the most to lose if the company is found liable for the damages. When it comes to the case at hand, these shareholders would most likely defend the company so their return on investment is not hurt. Not only that, the company itself is also encouraging the shareholders to not force them in disclosing information regarding their fracking operations to maximize the profits.

Annemarie Heite, whose home in Groningen has been scheduled
for demolition after earthquakes caused by oil fracking

It is highly possible that an individualist would agree with the type of operations and decisions the Exxon-Mobil's management is making. The company is operating within the rules and regulations that have been set by the governing bodies. It does not try to do anything beyond the boundaries that have been set for the industry. For example, many activist groups have been trying to force the company in to making changes to its operations such as fracking and drilling so the company would produce less greenhouse gases. But the company refuses by saying that these changes will cost a lot of money and no clear results can be anticipated from these changes. This is a perfect decision in the theory of individualism because this will maximize the profits for the shareholders/owners of the company.

In Exxon-Mobil’s case, a utilitarian would highly agree with the way the company is carrying out its operations and dealing with it’s stakeholders. This company provides natural resources such as natural gas and petroleum to many countries around the world. Through these operations, the company is making tremendous amounts of money because of which it is keeping its stockholders happy. To further spread the happiness, the people that are using these resources are happy because through these resources their lives are made easier. Yes there are those that suffer the bad consequences of the company’s operations such as those communities that are situated near the fracking cites. But a utilitarian considers the happiness of the greatest number not everyone involved.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006-2016

Kant will never side with the way Exxon-Mobil carries out its operations. Through the research conducted so far, it is very clear that any action performed by Exxon-Mobil is so it can stay within the boundaries of the rules and regulations. The company only uses the people around it to get what it wants and then discards them. An excellent example of this would be Fort worth in Taxes. In this community the company has dug up a disposal well to get rid of the waste-water and other harmful chemicals due to which the area is suffering from many earthquakes. When the company is asked to take responsibility, it denies that its operations had anything to do with the problem at hand and leaves the people in the community suffering.

Virtue Theory
The company fails to meet the expectations of a virtue theory of temperance as well. This virtue represents the ability control one’s desires and have reasonable expectations. The company has been carrying out its drilling and fracking operations non stop all around the world. It is understandable that the company is trying to meet the demand of it consumers and provide them with the goods they desire. But in doing so the company is showing its greed by not stopping to consider what harmful effects are being produced by its operations and whether it should do anything differently to reduce the harmful effects. The only thing that this company is concerned about is how it can make more money than anyone else and destroy the competition.

Justified Ethics Evaluation
In my opinion the earthquakes and water contamination can be prevented only if ExxonMobil is willing to make some changes to its drilling and fracking operations. As of right now the company is only concerned about its self interests and not considering the effects of its operations which are being pushed on to the members of its community. The only interest the company has is to increase its profits using any means necessary. Even though the company is working within the boundaries of law and regulations that are in place for the oil industry, it should go beyond the laws to make sure nothing bad happens due to their operations. Not only that, I also strongly believe that the government should should be blamed for part of the problem and also be pressured to change the regulations placed on oil industry to make sure the wastewater and other harmful chemicals are being treated properly; rather than letting the companies dump everything into the ground and forgetting about it. As it stands, the government is promoting the idea of “out of sight, out of mind.” ExxonMobil should do research of its own to find out what is causing the earthquakes if it does not want to accept the findings of other capable scientists. This way, the company can fight the claims if it is innocent and should accept responsibility it the results of the research are again the company’s operations.

ExxonMobil shareholders reject resolutions on climate, fracking. (2015, May 27). Retrieved October
     22, 2015.

Exxon to Face Regulators' Questions Over Quakes. (2015, June 6). Retrieved October 25, 2015.

Kiger, P. (2014, March 21). Green Fracking? 5 Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy. Retrieved
     November 22, 2015,

Netherlands court orders Shell & Exxon Mobil to pay 100,000 homeowners billions of dollars in
     quake damages. (2015, September 1). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Regulators Investigating Exxon Mobil Over Texas Earthquakes. (2015, June 8). Retrieved October
     22, 2015.

What Goes In & Out of Hydraulic Fracking. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

XTO says quakes near Fort Worth were natural. (2015, June 10). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment