Deepwater Horizon and the BP Oil Spill

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8 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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Deepwater Horizon and the
BP Oil Spill


The BP Oil Spill (which is also known as the BP Oil Spill or the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill)
that happened on April 20, 2010 has come to be known as one of the worst
environmental catastrophes in the history of the United States. The explosion of the
Macond
o Prospector and the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused the spill of
about 200 million gallons of a combination of mud, methane gas, and water over the
Gulf of Mexico, and the unfortunate death of 11 of 126 crewmen working on this oil rig.

D
ue to
immense
damage to the wellhead and the depth at which
it

occurred, BP,
the
operator and principal developer of the Macondo Prospect with a 65%

share
,

was
unable to stop the
oil from flowing to the ocean

for several months.

History


Deepwater Horizon

The
Deepwater Horizon

was a 9
-
year
-
old
ultra
-
deepwater
massive floating drilling rig,
also known as a semi
-
submersible mobile offshore drilling unit.
It
was the second semi
-
submersible rig constructed of a class of two

and was a fifth g
eneration RBS
-
8D design
built to drill subsea wells for oil exploration and production.

The rig was capable of
operating
in waters up to 8,000 feet deep,
drill down to 30,000 feet
, and in 2010
became
one of 200 deepwater offshore rigs capable of drilling
in waters more than 5
,
000 feet
.


This massive rig was built

for R&B Falcon (which later became a part of Transocean
, an
offshore drilling contractor
)
by South Korean company, Hyundai Heavy Industries

on
December 1998. The construction of this massive rig
took place in Ulsan

Shipyard
located in

South Korea and it

wasn’t until February 23
rd

of 2001 that the rig was
completed and delivered.

Deepwater Horizon

was located about 50 miles South East of
Venice, Louisiana.

The

rig was

leased to BP

(British Petroleum), the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer,

from March 2008 to September 2013

to explore the

Macondo Prospect
,
an oil and gas
well located below Deepwater Horizon.



Drilling


Plan


On March 2008, the mineral
right to drill oil in
Macondo Prospect was

purchased by BP
.
The original plan

submitted

included drilling and temporary abandon
ing

two exploration
wells located over the prospect.
From 2008 to 2009, BP carried out a mapping of the
block and secured

the

approval to drill the pr
ospect in 2009.


Once the cementing
,
sealing the well,

was complete, the well would have been tested for integrity and a
cement plug set, after which no further activities would take place until the well was later
activated as
a subsea

producer
.

Details

Transocean Marianas semi
-
submersible rig began drilling on October 7, 2009.
However, the operation only lasted about a month and half because on November 29,
2009, the rig was damaged by Hurricane Ida.


The original plan for the drilling was to be
complet
ed by
Transocean
Mariana
;

however,
Transocean
Deepwater Horizon

resumed
drilling

the

well
o
n February 2010 at a water depth of 5,000 feet.


Explosion

At approximately 9:45 p.m. CDT, on April 20, 2010,
an explosion occurred
on
Deepwater Horizon.
At the time of the explosion, the Macondo
Prospect was being
drilled into.
The explosion caused methane gas
, mud and water

from the well to shoot
up and out of the drill column under high pressure.
The methane gas expanded to the
platform of the Deepwate
r Horizon and the exploded.
While the Deepwater Horizon
was burning in flames, the
Macondo Prospect was spilling gas

into the Gulf of Mexico.
For 36
hours
, or 2 days

continuously, Deepwater Horizon b
urned in flames until it sank

on April 22
nd
, 2010
;
the Macondo Prospect spilled oil for continuously
for a couple

of

day
s as well until
it was successfully sealed off by an injection put into the well head of
heavy fluids and cement known as a “static kill” on August 4
, 2010
.

Causes


Greed and negligence

are

only

two

terms used to describe the causes of the oil spill
that took place in the Gulf of Mexico
.

The oil spill was a result of an explosion that
occurred, as well as the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig

itself.
T
here are many
factors that
contributed to the

explosion o
f the Macondo Prospect
, as well as many
other
causes that might have
triggered

this blowout that
damaged marine and wildlife
habitats as well as tourism industries
.

Greed

Even though three companies pointed fingers at one an
other, a

report concluded that
the British Petroleum (BP), the well’s owner, BP’s chief contractors, Transocean,
owners
and operators
of the mobile drilling and Halliburton, the company responsible for
the cementing operations, shared the blame for this
oil spill.

They
were blamed for
making a series of
cost
-
c
utting decisions and the system designed to

ensure well safety

was not up to potential
.

The oil spill was the result of lack of risk management, lack of
taking
precautions

measure and the failure t
o observe and

respond to critical indicators.

Federal investigators concluded that BP took many shortcuts that contributed to the oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP was behind schedule by weeks and over tens of millions
of dollars in budget trying to com
plete the Macondo Prospect well.


T
he
explosion

of
the

oil rig was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from
the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals
and barriers before exploding
. This was the result of the defective cement job done by
Halliburton.
However, i
t is believed that the workers might have done a basic pressure
testing on the seal and didn’t
perform a

more expensive test to ensure that the well was
properly plugged.

On

the other hand, a worker that took care of the company’s records for BP testified that
the rig had been drilling deeper than the
depth

allowed.
BP then failed to inform this
additional depth to Halliburton, who, therefore, poured in
a small cap of
cement

to fit the
extra depth.

Either way, there was negligence on every
one’s

part.

Even if either testimony were
true,
Halliburton should have checked.
Trying to save money on precautions caused
the well to explode, which caused a
n irreversible

catastrophe

on the environment
.

Negligence

It was not the first time BP

was involved in an oil spill. On February 2002,
according to
MMS records, Deepwater Horizon spilled 267 barrels of oil into

the Gulf months after
the oil rig was launched from South Korea after a hose failed
.
On June 2003, the rig
floated off course in high seas and spilled 944 barrel of oil and a month later, bad
weather and equipment led 74 barrels of oil to be released.
O
n January 2005, another
15 gallons of diesel fuel spark
ed on fire due to human error, and a couple months later
on March 2005, BP’s Texas City refinery blew up, killing 15 workers.

And the year after
that, bad maintenance on an oil pipeline burst and spill
ed 200,000 gallons of oil.

The study goes further

on investigating the causes of the BP oil spill.
BP had seven
violations of federal regulations. Among them were violations of law that required BP
and its partners to operate in a safe manner, take measu
res to contain oil and gas to
protect the environment and health, and to conduct liable tests of well pressures and to
notify federal regulators of changes in plans.

This factor goes hand
-
in
-
hand with greed.
These violations were ignored or not taken
care of with the most delicacy due to the cost
-
cutting decisions
taken.
The most drastic
and fatal result was the death of 11 crewmen, the massive oil spill that affected, and to
this day is still affecting
marine and wildlife habitat, and the destruction of the
Transocean Deepwater Horizon.


.