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Internal Politics Can Skew Actions

Lying Bosses Create Ethical Dilemmas

The November hypothetical ethics question dealt with possible misrepresentation of facts by others.

The question was:


A geologist working for a large company discovers that the results of his work are being misrepresented by his boss' boss to upper management.


Further, the geologist has good reason to believe that making a "fuss" will result in termination.


What would you do?


Larry Marek of Houston wrote that documentation is a solution.

"One cannot worry about misrepresentation by others -- lying is prevalent in society," he wrote. "In order to represent yourself and your ideas in an environment that may not be too trustworthy, there is an old method -- 'documentation.'

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The November hypothetical ethics question dealt with possible misrepresentation of facts by others.

The question was:


A geologist working for a large company discovers that the results of his work are being misrepresented by his boss' boss to upper management.


Further, the geologist has good reason to believe that making a "fuss" will result in termination.


What would you do?


Larry Marek of Houston wrote that documentation is a solution.

"One cannot worry about misrepresentation by others -- lying is prevalent in society," he wrote. "In order to represent yourself and your ideas in an environment that may not be too trustworthy, there is an old method -- 'documentation.'

"The geologist should document his results, maps, etc., and let the present problem go, especially if he didn't document these results that are being misrepresented."

Marek added "This geologist might also look to leave an organization that obviously allows misrepresentations to occur. If his 'professional' interpretations and conclusions are being misrepresented, that company is indeed on the road to extinction. It would not be worth the effort to bring a 'fuss' internally to this company.

"He might consider a formal complaint to the AAPG, however, especially if his boss is a geologist."


Robert H. Davidson of Houston relayed a real-life experience.

"After carefully mapping a particular play, which was basically a strat trap type of affair with little or no relation to current structure, I proceeded to propose and drill several wells that came in as mapped and with pay in the wells.

"Following up on my success with understandable enthusiasm I moved to another area on my semi-regional map and once again proposed a couple of locations.

"Getting invaluable input from 'technical mentors' -- who speculated freely and without knowledge of the play -- surmised that since this was a stratigraphic trap, the reservoir could be located 'anywhere.'

"The locations were summarily moved to areas miles from my locations but obviously still on acreage upon which our company held current leases.

"Needless to say, I was beside myself and proceeded to inform anyone who would listen that 'there wouldn't be a grain of sand' in the prospective interval in either one of the wells, should they be drilled.

"Of course I was told that this was all a team effort, and that the input of others indicated that there could be potential in the newly arrived at locations. I was well aware that the opinions of those who had absolutely no knowledge of the play were not only incorrect, but were based on company politics (which, as we all know, play a vital role in major company activities).

"I protested as loud and as long as I dared and ultimately put a signed document in the prospect folders, indicating that my original locations had been ignored for arbitrary and nonscientific reasons, and were still viable locations.

"It turned out that both of 'my' revised prospects were drilled -- and sure enough, there wasn't a grain of sand in the target reservoir interval of either wellbore.

"At least we proved where the pay was not located, using some convoluted logic.

"So there you have it: You can drill a well in a place you don't like -- and catch heck for a dry hole -- or you can raise 'billy' about the situation and be hammered for not being a team player. At least you could pick your poison.

"As you can see in such a situation you are not only tampering with your own career, but the careers of your superiors, both immediate and much higher in the organization. Such a situation can be very risky, depending on the character, ethics and honesty of those in the hierarchy.

"I will not elaborate on these traits as they applied to people in question at the time. My purpose here is simply to relate an actual situation exactly as you have fashioned in your question.

"(As an aside, I was asked -- told -- to recreate my map to indicate that there was indeed a prospect in the new locations when my original map clearly indicated that there was no potential there).

"It is quickly apparent that such an issue strikes not only at the heart of honesty and integrity, but it violates the basic core value of any worthwhile explorationist/development geoscientist -- that being, 'I do not want to drill a dry hole,' and if I do, I darn well want to believe it's a good location going in.

"So for those that don't believe such a thing could ever happen, I say, 'Oh yes, it can.' And to those who have been down this road I'll say, 'How sweet it is!'

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