The Explosion at the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig - Root Causes of the Incident, Codes Violated by Management, Possible Preventive Measures to Prevent an Accident – Case Study Example

Fire at Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Introduction A lot of catastrophic fires in the United s are as a result of human behaviours and activities. This paper will analyze the explosion which occurred at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Additionally, the paper will list the root causes of the incident and which codes were violated by management. Subsequently, the paper will look at the corrective actions if taken could have deterred the incident from happening.
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On April 20, 2010 an explosion occurred at Deepwater Horizon’s Mobile Offshore semi-submersible Drilling Unit. This resulted in a fire outbreak which led to the death of 11 workers, with 16 more injured. Consequently, the drilling unit submerged as a result of the explosion. The submergence of the drilling unit led to a massive offshore oil spill which had negative consequences on the environment (Lu, 2012). Experts unanimously agreed that the Deepwater oil spill incident was the worst marine oil spill accident in history. As such, they concluded that it was very disastrous to the environment. When the incident occurred, Deepwater Horizon’s semi-submersible unit was at the Mississipi Canyon Block 252, formerly known as the Macondo Prospect. In March 2008, Bp oil acquired the mineral rights to drill oil at Macondo. The company (Bp) commenced drilling the raised area in the month of February 2010, at a beginning depth of around 1500 meters. The Macondo well project was supposed to be drilled up to a depth of 5600 meters below sea level. The Macondo well was balanced and left for later finishing. It was to act as a subsea oil manufacturer (Kujawinski, 2011). Afterwards, the oil rig was tested for reliability, and a plug made out of cement was momentarily set in order to desert the well for later achievement as a subsea oil producer (Camilli et al, 2010).
According to the US Coast Guard, there had been previous fires at the Deepwater Horizon. Moreover, effluents were constantly leaking from the oil rig. The explosion incident started at around 9.56 pm on April 2010. There were various people on the rig during the incident. They included; 7 people employed by BP, 79 people from the Transocean. Furthermore, there were various employees of different companies which participated in the construction of the rig during the fire incident. Transocean employees were the first people to view the signs of the incident. They later said that the lights had flickered, closely followed by two burly vibrations. One of the Transocean members had previously hinted that something was wrong with the marine riser. Immediately after the explosion, the executive issued a statement implying that nonstandard pressure had accumulated in the marine riser. Therefore, as it (the marine riser) tried to find its way up, it speedily stretched out and caught fire. Those who survived termed the incident as “an unexpected explosion which only left us with 5 minutes to run for our safety”. The incident was followed by a large fire that engulfed the platform (Diercks et al, 2010).
The oil rig sank after burning for a day. A report produced by Bp attributed the incident to the closing of the area from which hot exhaust gas was to be released through by hydrocarbons that were ingested by diesel generators via the air intake. In total, 115 individuals were hurriedly evacuated from rig. The survivors were interviewed by the Coast Guard for some time before they were transferred to a different rig. The evacuated people were later taken to a hotel in Louisiana, where they were given the necessary attention like; food and medical consideration. The members of the Bp team were permitted to leave when they arrived at Port Fourchon. Thereafter, the crew members were served with a one page document by the representatives of the Transocean, which they were required to fill. It was later reported that 12-15 workers could not be traced and it’s then that the United States Guard initiated a search and rescue operation for the missing workers (Camilli et al, 2010).
The fire at the oil rig was attributed to various technical causes. Some of the major causes of the explosion and fire included; failure of the valve to close which was used to put a stop to the backflow of cement, the small diameter of the hole which hindered the circulation of dirt, the cementing was insufficient and hence could not enable flushing of the annulus found on the shoe truck, the wrong interpretation of the test pressure, the rising gas and the oil were not closely monitored which led to the arrival of the hydrocarbons. Lastly, the difficulty of closing the fail-safe that was located on the seabed hence the failure of closing the BOP stack. This was made worse by the presence of the off-center drill pipe (Reddy et al, 2012). All these factors contributed to the explosion at the oil rig which culminated in a huge fire.
The fire incident could have been avoided if only the correction of the factors stated above in the paper would have been looked into earlier. The relevant workers and the management of the oil rig neglected their duties of monitoring the oil rig processes. Additionally, the initial safety testing of the oil rig was inadequate. Moreover, BP refused to adhere to the recommendations proposed by Halliburton. Also, it emerged that Bp did not take into consideration the findings of the advanced modeling software. It (the software) had ascertained more than three times that a lot of centralizers were required on the oil rig. Bp also assumed warnings that came from other key tests. If BP could have taken these into consideration, the incident could have been avoided.
References
Camilli, R., Reddy, C. M., Yoerger, D. R., Van Mooy, B. A., Jakuba, M. V., Kinsey, J. C., ... & Maloney, J. V. (2010). Tracking plume hydrocarbon transport and biodegradation in Deepwater Horizon. Science, 330(6001), 201-204.
Diercks, A. R., Highsmith, R. C., Asper, V. L., Joung, D., Zhou, Z., Guo, L., ... & Lohrenz, S. E. (2010). Characterization of subsurface polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at the Deepwater Horizon site. Geophysical Research Letters, 37(20).
Kujawinski, E. B., Kido Soule, M. C., Valentine, D. L., Boysen, A. K., Longnecker, K., & Redmond, M. C. (2011) Fate of dispersants linked with the spill at Horizon. Environmental technology, 45(4), 1298-1306.
Lu, Z., He, Z., Voordeckers, J., Zhou, A., ... & Zhou, J. (2012). Microbial genes enriched in the plume oil spill by Deepwater Horizon. The ISME journal, 6(2), 451-460.
Reddy, C. M., Arey, J. S., Seewald, J. S., Sylva, S. P., Lemkau, K. L., Nelson, R. K., ... & Camilli, R. (2012). Composition and fate of gas and oil released to the water column during the spill at Horizon, 109(50), 20229-20234.