If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Bad Decisions Led To Oil  Rig Blast, NRC Says

by Jeffrey W. Johnson
November 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 47

Management decisions to ignore repeated failures of an important pressure test and to move ahead and attempt to seal BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil and gas well were cited as a key cause of April’s tragic accident that killed 11 workers, according to an engineering panel study released last week. A committee of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council notes that for 50 minutes before the explosion, hydrocarbons were exiting the supposedly cement-sealed well borehole, yet the drilling team failed to take note. “For unknown reasons,” the study continues, these hydrocarbons were vented through equipment and directly below the rig floor, making “ignition most likely.” The failures were “not isolated events,” the study says, suggesting they show “insufficient consideration of risk and a lack of operating discipline” on the part of the rig and well owners and operators. The study was interim, and more data will be gathered and analyzed in a final report to be released next summer. Also last week, a forensic examination of the oil rig’s failed blowout preventer, led by the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Coast Guard, began in Louisiana after the agencies reached an agreement with the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board over terms of the investigation.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.