Deepwater Horizon Essay

2450 words - 10 pages

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is as tragic as it was avoidable. It is the largest marine oil spill in history resulting in 205.8 million gallons (4.9 million barrels) of oil leaked from the Macondo oil field well that was developed by BP. The oil that leaked from this well contaminated over 665 miles of United States coastline, and caused massive damage along the gulf coastline to a variety of environments: environmental, economic, and social. (Repanich) This resulted in a civil lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department against BP, Transocean, and Halliburton for damages to the environment. Thousands of individual lawsuits were filed by coastal residents who lost ...view middle of the document...

Large pipes that were to be used for production were being inserted and cemented into the borehole that was being drilled at the time of the accident. The integrity of the production casing was to be tested as soon as the cementing was complete, and then it was to be abandoned for completion at a later time. 20 hours prior to the explosion, Halliburton completed the cementing process. “Interviews with rig workers suggest that a bubble of methane gas escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding.” (Cleveland) Transocean chief executive Steven Newman stated: "there was a sudden, catastrophic failure of the cement, the casing or both." (Cleveland)
Immediately following the explosion, The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was engulfed in uncontrollable flames. 115 workers were successfully evacuated, but 11 people sadly lost their lives. The fire burned continuously for over a day, after which the rig capsized and began to sink, thus causing the seals on the well to rupture and start leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This happened on April 22, 2010. Immediately following, there were numerous attempts to stop the leak. The only solution to permanently seal the leak was to drill a relief well, which is a “well drilled to intersect an oil or gas well that has undergone a blowout.” (Cleveland) On May 2, 2010, BP started to drill one of these wells, and it successfully intersected with the leaking well on September 15, 2010. This intersection was made at 17,977 feet, and as soon as it was made, BP started filling it with cement so that it became permanently sealed by September 19, 2010. However, there were measures BP could have taken to prevent the continuous leaking of oil, but alas such preventive measures were avoided to save an insignificant amount of money in relation to the overall costs BP incurred from this disaster. (Cleveland)
One of the preventive measures that could have been exercised was the installation of a remote control blow out preventer. Curiously, the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was not outfitted with a remote control shut-off failsafe switch. In contrast, such equipment is required in other key oil-producing nations as the only remaining option when all else has failed in order to protect against underwater spills. This device, which costs about $500,000, is only recommended in America, not required. United States federal regulators had exclusively excused the Deepwater Horizon from regulation set up in the National Environmental Policy Act of needing a remote blowout preventer because of the supposed costliness of the device. Yet the remote control blowout preventer amounted to less than one percent of the total Deepwater Horizon capital cost. (Cleveland)
By the same token, an Associated Press report published on May 24, 2010 stated that federal regulation on oil well cementing, which is another proposed...

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