Remembering the Deepwater Horizon Tragedy, Ten Years Later

April 20 marks the ten-year anniversary of the disastrous blowout and fire that led to the sinking of the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and the loss of 11 of the drilling crew. The well, operated by BP and dubbed the Macondo Prospect, spewed an estimated five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the ensuing three months, until it was finally controlled in June.

The spill was an avoidable accident that we all hope never happens again. I blogged extensively about the spill at the time, and continued to write about its regulatory aftermath for several more years; this post from April 2011 contains links to other relevant posts: BP’s Macondo Disaster, One Year Later

The New Orleans Times-Picayune/Advocate marked the anniversary with this article: A decade after BP spill, Gulf of Mexico has rebounded, but wounds still visible (Apr 18, 2020). That article contains links to another TP/Advocate article from March 3, which drew heavily on a report from the George Soros-backed Center for American Progress. This trio of posts inspired me to update my blog.

To summarize…

  • The CAP study is cherry-picked specifically to show the industry in a bad light. The offshore safety and environmental record shows decades of improvement; why does CAP show only recent data with no historical context?
  • The Times-Picayune/Advocate article attempts to reconstruct the offshore fatality record from press reports and suggests that regulatory reform led to a 2019 spike in fatalities. Of the nine fatalities tallied in 2019, five souls were lost in two helicopter incidents. Four were victims of falls.
  • BSEE does not regulate helicopters; yes, they are hazardous. Falls are responsible for a large fraction of offshore injuries/deaths. BSEE is rolling back technical well operation and design issues. Regulatory reform did not increase the likelihood of falls.

More below the fold….

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