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Oil Extraction as an Ethical Dilemma

Nowadays, oil extraction and exportation has become a significant factor for the wealth of the world community and the economic situation of a particular petroleum-exporting nation. Recently, the amount of oil extracted has increased greatly and its use has expanded, too. For example, in 2018, the Oil Fund of Norway has become the largest Sovereign Wealth Fund in the World (Hunnes, 2019). In 2019, US oil export reached 3 million BPD which means that the country is going to become a large exporter (Hunnes, 2019). However, despite the evident economic success and prosperity, large-scale oil extraction has negative consequences for the environment. Therefore, separate oil-producing nations and the countries of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) face a compound ethical dilemma. The problem is discussed in the article “More Planet and Less Profit? The Ethical Dilemma of an Oil Producing Nation” by John Hunnes. The purpose of this paper is to review and analyze the dilemma and the article describing it.

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OPEC is an international organization the main goal of which is control over oil production and prices for the product. In addition to control functions, OPEC members are engaged in the development of a unified policy for the development of oil fields (Hunnes, 2019). Besides, OPEC maintains the predictive value of petroleum products and maximum stability of oil transportation to customers (Hunnes, 2019). OPEC primarily includes countries whose economies depend on oil production. As for the key stakeholders of OPEC, they are the member nations, investors, and the companies cooperating with the organization.

Speaking about the ethical dilemma in detail, it was foreseen at the beginning of oil production but has recently become complex. In fact, during the last two years, the oil sector saw a drastic increase in the extraction of oil and the use of its products (Hunnes, 2019). At the same time, environmental problems have become particularly acute (Hunnes, 2019). On the one hand, OPEC profits from oil production and investments in the industry. Petroleum resources of the participating countries are used for the benefit of society; for the nations, they are the main source of income. On the other hand, fossil fuels should not be incorporated because of CO2 emissions that negatively affect the environment. Therefore, there is a tension because governments need revenues and at the same time, are concerned about the ecological issues.

The ethical decisions and obligations of the OPEC include promoting the objective of environment preserving. The organization often presses the point that ecology is one of its top priorities. Besides, each of the OPEC countries implements its own environmental projects. Speaking about the decision from a point of view of ethical approaches, by supporting the environment, OPEC nations try to reduce the harm done to the air, water, and soil. The result the countries want to achieve is the prevention of climate worsening; hence, here the results orienteered approach is implemented. Analyzing the situation according to the principle based approach, it might be stated that OPEC uses a principle of balance: if environment is harmed, it will then be supported (Cooper, 2012). The virtue based principle is also applied there: a good person would always try to mitigate the negative consequences of their actions (Svara, 2007). As for the implications that resulted in successful future operations, the environmental problems by OPEC countries were successful because they slow down climate changes.

In conclusion, it is important to press the point that in the recent years, an expansion of oil extraction and exportation and a drastic decrease of environment have led to an ethical dilemma. From the analysis of the situation, I have learned that sometimes, it is impossible to resolve an ethical dilemma by just stopping doing what causes the problem. The situation with oil usage is complicated, and OPEC tries to mitigate the negative ecological consequences of its actions which is the right decision.


  1. Cooper, T. L. (2012). The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative role. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Hunnes, J. A. (2019). More planet and less profit? The ethical dilemma of an oil producing nation. Cogent Business & Management, 6(1), 1648363.
  3. Svara, J. (2007). The ethics primer for public administrators in government and nonprofit organizations. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

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