The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which is also referred to as the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill /Macondo blowout/ the BP Oil Spill, was caused by an explosion in the offshore platform Southeast of the River Mississippi. This took place on 20 April 2010 and three months later, the oil was still flowing. The exact reason for the explosion has never been fully identified even today. However, a few things have been pointed out that could have led to the explosion. Many of the 126 workers working in the platform were rescued although 11 died and 17 were seriously injured. The Deepwater Horizon, which was owned by Transocean but hired by BP (British Petroleum), was made in Korea. It went down around 5000 feet on 22 April 2010 (Cleveland, 2010).
Since that explosion, it has been an episode of blame-game and pointing of fingers. No one is willing to be liable for the damage done. The total area affected on the Lousiana shoreline increased from 287 miles in July to 320 miles in November. 4200 square miles of the Gulf were shut down to shrimping after when tar balls were seen in shrimpers nets (Cleveland, 2010). The government of U.S has often blamed BP for the disaster and insists that it should be liable. The U.S government has blamed the “corporate” in the oil industry who were mostly involved in the project for the disaster. One of the corporate (BP) was blamed for removing mad from the riser. The mad’s pressure contained the well but when it was removed, water replaced it. This must have likely contributed to the blowout. The realization of hydrocarbons flowing into the well was not taken as seriously as the matter needed. The company just decided to abandon the well for a while. There was not enough consideration of risk before the major actions were taken (Winter, 2010).
There was a change of the supervisor just before the closing of the well. This managerial change came at a time when the presence of the previous supervisor was greatly needed in order to account for the routines and the checks to be done. The new supervisor may not have been aware of some things hence not taken action to cater for them. Limiting the circulation by drilling rather than cementing also increased the cement contamination. There was no float shoe at the bottom of the casing as to act as an addition of the barrier. This addition is normally used in order to strengthen the barrier.
Another narrative suggests that Transocean was to be blamed. It is blamed for having a dysfunctional blowout preventer (BOP). It had a dead battery, cracks in the hydraulic system and a cutting tool that was not strong enough to do what it was meant to do- cut. This preventer prevents oil from leaking after an explosion has occurred. It is also accused of disregarding pressure test readings before the explosion occurred. When the BOP was activated, it prevented its effectiveness in taking control of the well. Thorough checks and tests were not carried out with seriousness and consideration as they could have revealed some of these mistakes and faults before they abandoned the well. Having a leaking a hydraulic is and a dead battery is yet to be explained in a matter that carries such seriousness as this (Elliott, 2010).
The Halliburton Company, which was in charge of cementing, was blamed for not putting the cement plug, which was a barrier to contain the well. This cementing was meant to fill up the space between the drilled hole and the underground pipe. This was because of negligence on the company’s part, which led to the injury of a worker who was around that area and has since sued the company. Tests known as the negative (pressure) tests indicated that the cementing did not provide a barrier as the one required to stop the hydrogen flows. These tests were done severally but they were not taken seriously. The company went ahead and started the closing down process. Trying to cement many hydrocarbon and brine zones in one operational procedure is unheard of. The difference between the desirable cement density and the damaging density was very small (Winter, 2010).
There were not enough checks and balances carried out by the management of each of the corporate. They were in a hurry to close down and “bury their heads in the sand” pretending that no damage would be felt or be big enough to be noted. There ware large amounts of gas being let into the air and the wind was not enough. This may have encouraged combustion of gases hence ignition. The unexpected disaster and the lack of action of the management did not give the people enough time to move from the place. That is why some eleven lives disappeared.
Serious consideration must be done when handling such matters. Ignoring test result or delaying to take action when the results demand that appropriate action be taken is unforgivable. Companies assigned to do such assignments or involved in such projects should take the necessary precautions as indicated. BP claimed that it could handle a disaster much larger than the oil spill in its license application. The disaster in question was only 2% of it. It is only fare to be serious and considerate for what happened was complete negligence (Dun and Bradstreet, 2010). In all the information gathered, none of the groups was ready to handle such a disaster despite their claims in the application license. The groups were more interested in the outcome and were not keen about the means to get them there.
Aeberman (2010). What caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster? The Oil Drum. May 21 Retrieved from http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6493
Cleveland, C. (2010). Deepwater Horizon Spill Oil. The Encyclopedia of the Earth. Oct. 15 Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/article/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill?topic=50364
Dun and Bradstreet (2010). 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa.gov). June 7
Elliott, K.G. (2010). Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Suite 101.com. Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/causes-of-the-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-a238207
Winter, D.C (2010). Interim Report on Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout and Ways to prevent such events. Washington, DC, National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council of the National Academies