Objectives Of Exxon Mobil Corporation Engineering Essay

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ExxonMobil Corporation appeared to be the largest private oil and gas company in the world that conducts business in almost every country in the world. With the asset of $87 billion after both Exxon and Mobil merged in the year of 1999, the company is dominant in the petroleum industry. The aim of this report is to examine Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster. The report starts off with a brief overview of the aim and objectives of company. The report also includes the refinery processes which designed and operated by the company. The report will introduce the oil spill incident happened at year 1989 and evaluation of the risk in all areas that lead to the oil spill disaster and pollution will be carried out. Besides, the consequences of all the hazards of the oil spill disaster will be indentified. The report ends with some suggestion on the improvements and changes in the management systems to prevent the disaster from happening again.


Written last, present industrial background about your topic and briefly explain the research objectives and what is covered in your report.

Examine the aim and objectives of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The ExxonMobil Corporation, or ExxonMobil, an American multinational oil and gas corporation with their headquarters located in Irving, Texas, is one of the wealthiest private companies in the world formed on November 30, 1999 by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. "This merger will enhance our ability to be an effective global competitor in a volatile world economy and in an industry that is more and more competitive," said Lee Raymond and Lou Noto, chairmen and chief executive officers of ExxonMobil respectively. [1]

Currently, ExxonMobil is one of the largest traded oil and gas companies in the world. The company is ranked either #1 or #2 for the past 5 years with 37 oil refineries in 21 countries with daily refining capacity of at least 6.3 million barrels. No doubt that Exxon Mobil is the largest refiner, petroleum products supplier in the world.

After the merge, ExxonMobil had a major structural change in its organisation structure. From being a multifunctional geographically-based regional organisation to none centralises organisation structure, the company is operate under four core business areas with eleven global functional businesses.

According to ExxonMobil Corporation, their "Guiding Principles" is committed to being the world's premier petroleum and petrochemical company that promised to continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while simultaneously adhering to high ethical standards. [2]

ExxonMobil is actively involved in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. The nature of business is petroleum products, transportation and sale of crude oil, natural gas and etc. They became the major manufacturer and marketer of commodity and specialty petrochemicals, as reported, over 90 percent of their chemical business ranks either first or second, by the current market position, worldwide.

The company also interested in electric power generation facilities. There are some extensive research programs organized by the company to support the operations to explore emerging energy sources, so that continuous improvements in their business are making possible. The company also invested more than $5 billion in research and development on technology over the past five years. For example, the company has developed a SCAN fining process which eliminates the majority of the sulphur from gasoline while minimizing octane loss.

Carefully observe the oil and refinery industrial processes and operations.

Crude oil is a non-uniform material. The composition depends on its location. But the majority of crude oil is cycloalkanes (naphthenes), alkenes, aromatics, polycyclic aromatics, S-containing compounds, etc. Refining is defined as the processing of separating one complex mixture of hydrocarbons into a numbers of other complex mixtures of hydrocarbons.

The successful drilling of the first commercial oil well dated in year 1859 was the major cause that leads to the beginning of the petroleum industry. Two years later the refinery industry started as the process of oil refinery was invented to refine the crude oil into kerosene. Since then, refining process has evolved continuously for better and different products to suit the needs of customers from worldwide.

There are four main identical process categories in the refining process. There are the distillation process, treatment process, formulating and blending, and some other refining operations.

Refinery industry starts with the invention of distillation process at year 1861, also known as fractionation. It is the process that separates a liquid or vapour mixture of two or more substances into its component fractions of desired purity, by the applying and removing heat to the subject. Distillation works based on the theory that the vapour of a boiling mixture will be richer in the components that have lower boiling points. In order to further distil the residuum at higher temperatures, pressure is reduced to prevent the thermal cracking process to happen. The technique is known as vacuum distillation and high quality lubricating oils are produced through this method.

Due to the fact that raw or unprocessed crude oil often contains water, inorganic salts, water soluble trace metals and etc. Pre-treatment, desalting or dehydration process is introduced to prior to distillation process for removing the unwanted contaminants in the crude oil. There are two methods of crude oil desalting, the chemical separation and the electrostatic separation, which used the hot water as the extraction agent.

Thermal cracking process is referring as the process to physically break or crack heavier, higher boiling-point crude oil fractions into more useful products such as fuel oil, gasoline and etc. By subjecting heavy fuels to both pressure and intense heat, the process could produce more gasoline than distillation process. However it also produced large amount of unwanted solid substance called coke. Hence visbreaking, stream cracking and coking process are invented to produce more valuable products.

Catalytic cracking and polymerization processes were invented in the mid- to late 1930's to further increase the production of gasoline in high-octane and better antiknock characteristics due to the higher compression gasoline engines were invented. The introduction of Catalytic cracking and polymerization processes helped to met the demand by providing improved gasoline yields and higher octane numbers. Catalytic cracking process rearranges the molecular structure of hydrocarbon compounds to convert heavy hydrocarbon feedstock into lighter fractions such as kerosene, gasoline and etc by decompiling the complex hydrocarbons into simpler molecules.

The evolution of crude oil refining process from distillation process to today's complicated processes has created a need for health and safety management procedures with safe work practices especially during high risk process.

Evaluate the risks in all areas that lead to the oil spill disaster and pollution.

Exxon Valdez, the single hulled oil tanker ran aground on Blight Reef of Prince William Sound at the midnight of 23 March 1989. Around 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean and flowed around the Gulf of Alaska due to the incident, which then was recorded as the largest oil spill in United States history. A lot of possible causes were found for the occurrence of the oil spill disaster that happened at that night.

Based on the studies and investigations conducted by The National Transportation Safety Board, one of the main causes is the third mate failed to properly manoeuvre the vessel on time. During captain Hazelwood rest, Valdez was travelling outside normal shipping lanes in order to avoid the ice. Helmsman Harry Claar the second pilot was then replaced by Helmsman Robert Kagan. For reasons that remain unclear, Kagan and The Third Mate Gregory Cousins who was reported as the main control person for the wheelhouse of Valdez failed to make the tanker turn back into the normal shipping lanes at a certain point and the tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef in pristine Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling over 258,000 barrels of crude oil.

ExxonMobil didn't provide a rested and sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez for operation. The third mate failed to properly manoeuvre the vessel, possibly due to fatigue and excessive workload. Studies indicated that there were about half numbers of tanker crew in year 1989 as compared to the crew number in the year 1977. All worked in long hours, around 12 to14 hour shifts, plus overtime.

Besides, the company was reported failed to supervise the pilot of the tanker crew effectively. studies also shows that, the tragic accident happened might due to the master, Captain Hazelwood, failed to provide a proper navigation watch on duty, possibly the master is impairment from alcohol. He was said to be below decks, sleeping off his bender in his quarters.

According to the promise set by the oil industry, iceberg monitoring equipments are compulsory for every tanker. But Exxon Shipping Company didn't repair the Raycas radar system is also one of the factor contributed to the accidents. Before the disaster happened, the radar cant turned on. It was left broken due to the high repairing in the company's point of view.

They were also reports described that the possible cause for the tragedy is the U.S. Coast guard failed to provide an effective vessel traffic system. Moreover, there were no inspection done in Valdez by Coast Guard, due to the numbers of staff were reduced, to be specific, man power is insufficient, escort services were lacking.

Critically identify the consequences of all the hazards of the oil spill disaster.

The tragedy accident had resulted approximately 258,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the pristine environment of Prince William Sound and reported as the largest and longest oil spill response in the world history. The oil impacted one of this nation's most sensitive ecosystems. Due to the timing of the spill was the animals pre-breeding season, many animals were direct effect of the oil. Area affected included a national forest, four national wildlife refuges, three national parks, five state parks, four state critical habitat areas, and a state game sanctuary. The toll on marine wildlife included over 100,000 of birds, fish and animals died right away, including as many as 250,000 seabirds, 2800 of sea otters, 12 river otters, 300 harbour seals and 247 bald eagles, 22 orcas, up to 22 killer whales and billions of salmon, herring eggs.

Wildlife was not the only resource injured by the spill. Some archaeological sites were damaged directly by oil and others were subject to looting and vandalism during and after the clean up. Oil was deposited high above the tide line in designated wilderness areas. The massive intrusion of people and equipment associated with the clean up resulted in an unprecedented disturbance of undeveloped and normally uninhabited areas, and some visible impacts of this disturbance still linger.

Besides, commercial fishing, tourism, and local economies were hit hard in the immediate aftermath of the oil spill. An estimated 40,000 commercial fishermen lost at least one season, and tourism operators spent several years recovering from a downturn in bookings.

Although the cleanup efforts washed away much of the visible damage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill within the first year, but the environmental effects of the spill are still being felt. In the years since the accident, scientists have noted higher death rates among sea otters and some other species affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill and stunted growth or other damage among others.

What are the improvements and changes in the management systems so to prevent the disaster from happening?

After the disaster happened, ExxonMobil reconfirm its commitment to safeguard the environment, employees as promised. Thus some precaution steps were restudied and taken new action plans to improve oil-spill prevention. Therefore, ExxonMobil has ordered to use only double hulled or double bottomed tankers for the transport upgrade. Before that, ExxonMobil was using only the single hulled design tankers. To further improve vessel navigation, new technology such as the improvement of ice radar for monitoring icebergs in tanker lanes was installed to every tanker. The integrity of oil containment systems also under monitored.

Previously there is only one escort tug with tanker while travelling through Valdez narrows. Now, the company decided to have 2 escort tugs with laden tanker when travelling through the spot. There are ocean rescue tug stationed at the entrance to Valdez narrows. Some tankers routes were re-planned for the safety reasons. There were also restrictions on tanker operation base on the weather.

Due to the shortage of those recovery equipments such as booms, skimmers and etc, during the tanker grounded, the spill spread wide and far causing the tragedy disaster to the animal habitats. As the countermeasures, ExxonMobil had increased the quantity of recovery equipments on standby mode. Over 100 skimming systems with the capability if recovering 300,000 barrels of oil spill in 72 hours and over 49 miles of various types of booms were prepared in case of any emergency. All of these emergency response equipments were staged in Valdez, Tatitlek, Cordova and other spots for easier and faster access. There are more dispersants which are now stockpiled for use and systems are in place to apply them from helicopters, airplanes, and boats.

Besides, ExxonMobil had strengthened their training programs for their every vessel captains and pilots. Safety-sensitive positions were restricted to employees that have no history of drug abuse. For safety purpose, officer who applied position in tankers must be tested for alcohol prior to each of the sailing as the safety precaution for the sensitive positions in the vessels.

ExxonMobil also implemented improvement on the tanker's facilities. Extensive periodic assessments were conducted on ExxonMobil vessels and facilities from time to time for prevention purpose. All vessel owners or operators must establish and maintain evidence of adequate insurance. Every three years, all components of the entire response plan must be exercised. The primary purpose of the area exercise is to activate and observe the response infrastructure in a given area, and the ability of the entire response community to effectively conduct a spill response.

ExxonMobil states that" In the event a spill occurs, we also have improved our response capability. For example: ExxonMobil is a founding member of every major oil spill response centre worldwide. There are over 1,000 ExxonMobil employees involved in oil spill response teams worldwide. We hold frequent, extensive oil spill drills at various ExxonMobil locations around the world and we have developed and applied new spill-detecting technology." [6]