Deepwater Horizon Accident Resources
On the evening of 20 April 2010, a gas release and subsequent explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig working on the Macondo exploration well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico.” -BP
This Deepwater Horizon (BP Macondo) resource page has been put together for those looking to understand exactly what happened with the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig and how that affected the offshore drilling segment of the oil and gas industry.
We will be using this page to consolidate our resources on the topic of the Deepwater Horizon accident.
Sound Off Discusses Deepwater Horizon and Regulatory Aftermath
Joe Perino Discusses the Deepwater Horizon and its effect on offshore drilling regulations in the US in this oil and gas podcast episode of Sound Off:
Relevant Deepwater Horizon Links:
Regulatory and Industry Groups:
Center for Offshore Safety (COS)
Center for Offshore Safety – SEMS Toolkit
Offshore Energy Safety Institute (OESI)
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)
Related EKT Interactive Resources:
E-Books (Free Oil 101 Membership Required):
Exactly what was the BP Macondo or Deepwater Horizon incident?
Well, it was a blow-out of a well on a deep water oil rig, which caught fire, caused the rig to explode and sink, resulting in a loss of 11 lives, the rig, and an oil spill that gushed for some 87 days before being capped on July 15 of 2010 and then eventually sealed on September 19, 2010. It involved several players. First, BP, the operator of the well; secondly, Trans Ocean, who owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform; and third, Halliburton, an oil field service company, one of many companies working on the platform at that time.
What exactly happened? As Trans Ocean was drilling the well under BP’s direction, it was customary to pump cement down around the outside of the drill casing to prevent any oil and gas from coming up around the exterior of that casing and up to the platform. In addition, drilling mud is used as a counterbalance to maintain pressure against the pressure of the oil and gas that would flow up as a result of the drill bit penetrating the oil and gas reservoir. According to BP’s report on April 20th, managers misread pressure data and gave their approval for rig workers to replace the drilling fluid in the well with seawater, which was not heavy enough to prevent gas that had been leaking into the well from firing up the pipe to the rig, catching fire, and causing the explosion.
In addition, the attempt to seal the well by activating the blow-out preventer, whose shears would cut off the drill pipe and close the well head, failed. The drilled pipe coupled inside the blow-out preventer and the shears were not sufficiently strong to cut it off. The result of course was the oil leaking into the ocean from the ocean floor for the 87 days.
The government and regulatories investigated the incident and issued a formal report in March of 2011, pointing out a number of failures which included both physical ones, including mechanical, process and human error involved. Report concluded that the primary cause of failure was that the blind shear rams of the blow-out preventer failed to fully close and seal due to a portion of the drilled pipe buckling between the shear blocks. But also highlighted a number of other shortcomings, including one that BP had not used a diagnostic tool to test the strength of the cement that was put in by Halliburton. Another was ignoring a pressure test that had failed. Another was for not plugging the pipe with cement.
Similarly, a White House commission likewise blamed BP and its partners for a series of cost-cutting decisions and an insufficient safety system but also concluded that the spill resulted from systemic root causes and absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies might well reoccur. This is what set into motion the changes that occurred in the regulator, the MMS, as well as what has happened since then in the industry as well as with operating companies and oil field service companies.
The first group to take action was the government and regulatory agencies. Within five weeks of the incident, the Mining and Mineral Management Services was reorganized into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. BOEMRE, or [Bome-ray 00:05:30] for short. BOEMRE combined the two functions of the three that the Mining and Mineral Services used to do. If you recall, the Mining and Mineral Services did three things: One, they collected the revenues from the oil and gas production; secondly, they established a strategic plan for the development of the offshore resources along with approving drilling permits and production permits; then, third, they issued regulations and compliance rules on safety and environmental issues, which the operators have to comply with and they enforce those rules.
By late 2010, the revenue accounting function of the old MMS had been transferred from the MMS to the Department of Interior’s Office of Policy Management and Budget, where it continues to reside today and it is now called the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. Later on in 2011, about a year later, BOEMRE was split into two parts. Part one was BOEM or [Bome 00:06:42], and the second part was BSEE, or the Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement.
BOEM’s responsibilities included the strategic plan for the development of the outer continental shelf resources, meaning the leasing program; secondly, they handled all of the lease sales and the renewable energy programs; third, of course, is that they managed all of the drilling and production permits.
BSEE on the other hand, or [Bessie 00:07:18], was all about regulations and enforcement, and they’re responsible for issuing the standards and guidelines for offshore operators for operations, for spill response. They also have an enforcement division, and they’ve set up quite a few guidelines, rules and regulations that have been promulgated since 2011 and most recently in 2016 for compliance by the operators.