This case, set in mid 1991, describes the dilemma faced by the senior management of British Petroleum's upstream subsidiary BP Exploration (BPX), in attempting to get the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) opened to drilling and eventual development. The U.S. energy debate had been rekindled by the Gulf War, providing BPX with a window of opportunity that had apparently been closed indefinitely two years earlier, following the Exxon Waldez disaster. Since Alaska was BP's largest oil producing area, and given BP's 50% holding in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAP), this decision was highly significant to BP's future competitive performance in its industry. Similarly, environmental groups had invested a great deal of time, energy and prestige in their fight against opening ANWR. The stakes were high for both sides. On the surface, little common ground existed.
Provides students with the opportunity to examine a major environmental controversy from widely differing viewpoints, and thus to enhance their analytical and advocacy skills. Negotiations between the various groups of students, for example, can provide an opportunity to explore the limits of adversarial and cooperative negotiation tactics.