The Deepwater Horizon

Published: 2021-06-29 07:10:54
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Category: Social Issues

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Case Recap
The Deepwater Horizon accident happened on the evening of April 20, 2010, forty miles southeast of the Louisiana coast (BP). Gas was released and subsequently followed by a deadly explosion killing 11 people out of the 126 who were on board (The Daily Telegraph). The Deepwater Horizon rig was owned by the Swiss company, Transocean, and operated at that time by BP. The accident was named to be the largest and the most challenged environmental disaster the industry had faced in history. Millions of gallons of oil was poured into the Gulf of Mexico; the drill was the world's deepest oil and gas well at 5,000 feet in depth with oil leakage of 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the gulf (Hoch, M). It took BP and engineers 87 days to recap the problem (The Daily Telegraph).
The main cause of the blowout was the failure of the blowout preventer (BOP). The system of valves intended to prevent the uncontrolled release of oil and gas, to contain hydrocarbon pressures in the well. BP tried many ways to solve the disaster and stop the well leakage, starting with first remotely operated underwater vehicles to close the blowout preventer valves on the well head. The second attempt was by placing a 125-ton containment dome over the largest leak and piping the oil to a storage vessel on the surface. The third attempt was to close the well by pumping heavy drilling fluids into the blowout preventer to restrict the flow of oil before sealing it permanently with cement ("top kill"). Finally, on July 15, the leak was stopped by cutting the pipe and putting a cap on it (Wikipedia). As a result of the investigations by Congressional hearings and the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill found that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean were liable for the spill by neglecting safety to cut costs. As estimations Penalties that BP may be required to pay have reached as high as $90 billion (The Huffington Post). In addition, EPA announced that BP will be temporarily banned from seeking new contracts with the US government (The Guardian).
I will be analyzing the case from the media and engineer's perspective. The media was very active to collect enough information to the public, they were interviewing as many personal to explain the incident and it was one of the sources for BP's top management to communicate and apologize for the people. The engineer's perspective is more important because the incident happened due to the failure of technical issues as well as engineer's bad decision making.
* Primary
The deepwater Horizon disaster included many stakeholders and affected even more. To name some of those who were affected primary: BP company (the company's health is in danger facing many fines that must be paid with a bad reputation), management (as was mentioned in the documentary, the president was replaced later on, this is a very good example of how each of BP manger's position is in danger of losing it or at least losing the great incentives ), and BP's employees ( Those 11 workers who lost their lives and many of those who have lost their jobs, as well as some engineers were sued and held responsible for some inappropriate actions). BP has also lost its market value and dropped to be the fourth largest major oil company in 2013.
Transocean (rig operator owner), Halliburton (cement contractor), and Cameron International (Blowout preventer manufacture) were all charged with fines and holding of a bad reputation. The United States' Government, Many of the local businesses, restaurants and hotels, had to be shut down, losing many of their customers and employees locally and across the states. Also, due the closing of local businesses, many jobs were lost and more families were struggling to live.

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