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BP Deepwater Disaster Plan Failure

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Disaster is a serious event that seriously causes severe changes society which causes human , economic, material and environmental loss. BP failed to make proper contingency plans for an explosion at its Deepwater Horizon oil well and then misled officials about the amount of oil spilled when the worst happened.

The Deepwater catastrophe in May 2010 killed eleven men and oil was spread over miles across the coast of Louisiana causing billions of dollars of damage to fishing and tourism industry. Approximately 5 barrels of oil spear out into the Gulf of Mexico making it worst disaster in world history. BP spent 86 days struggling against to cap the well by using various techniques known such as “Cofferdam” , “top hat”. Even it includes pumping of mud and other material into blowout preventer.

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The investigation team “found no evidence that BP performed a formal risk assessment of critical operational decisions made in the days leading up to the blowout. BP’s failure to fully assess the risks associated with a number of operational decisions leading up to the blowout was a contributing cause of the Macondo blowout.”

The report also said cost- or time-saving decisions made by BP “without considering contingencies and mitigation” contributed to the disaster, as was the energy company’s “failure to ensure all risks associated with operations on the Deepwater Horizon were as low as reasonably practicable.”

Though reading some of the content of report Mr. Moss said that he is aware of, “there were striking similarities to the Piper Alpha incident in the North Sea many years ago.” The Piper Alpha platform was destroyed by fire in 1988 after an explosion, killing 168.

Reports stated in earl’s 2012 indicated that the well site was still leaking. After various investigations conducted they derived to the conclusion that was responsible for explosion and spilling of oil. The U.S. government stated in September 2011 report that due to defective cement on the well, BP was at the fault but partial fault was also of rig operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton.

Earlier in 2011, a White House commission likewise blamed BP and its partners for a series of cost reducing decisions and an inadequate safety system, but also conclude that the spill resulted from “systemic” root causes and “absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur”.

Numerous investigations had proved that the reason behind the explosion was mess created by with cement, drilling mud, fluid pressure, botched tests, management problems and poor decisions. The blowout preventer sealed the well temporarily, but then it failed and that caused the massive spill.

According to survey the accident was caused by the failure of eight different safety systems that were meant to prevent this kind of incident: The bottom of the borehole was not fully sealed by cement and as a result of that oil and gas began to leak through it into the pipe which leads to surface of water body. BP found that the cement formulation did not prove to work effectively.

Similarly, the bottom of the pipe to the surface was capped in two ways. It was also filled with cement, and it also contained two mechanical valves designed to stop the flow of oil and gas. But all of these arrangements failed, allowing oil and gas to travel up the pipe towards the surface. The team members conducted various pressure tests to determine whether the well was sealed or not. The outcomes after these tests were misinterpreted, which make them believe that the well was under control. The crew should be able to recognize the flow of oil and gas by unexpected increase in pressure in the well but the crew was not able to detect and increase in pressure occurred about 50 minutes before the rig explode by considering it was not a leak.

About 8 minutes before the explosion, a mixture of mud and gas began pouring onto the floor of the rig. The members tried to close a valve in a device called the blowout preventer, which is located on the ocean floor over the top of the well borehole. It did not work properly.

Even though the members had the option of diverting the mixture of mud and gas away from the rig, through pipes over different side. Instead, the flow was diverted to a device on board the rig designed to separate small amounts of gas from a flow of mud. The so-called mud-gas separator was quickly overflowed and flammable gas began to surround the rig. The rig had a gas detection system fitted on top of it. It starts as soon as the alarm rings triggering the ventilators fans to prevent the gas reaching rig’s engines which results in fire but the alarm system was deactivate to stop ringing fake alarm. The explosion destroyed the control lines the crew was using to close safety valves in the blowout preventer. However, the blowout preventer has its own safety mechanism in which two separate systems should have shut the valves automatically when it lost contact with the surface. One system seems to have had a flat battery and the other a defective switch. As a result, the blowout preventer did not close.

“It is apparent that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the catastrophe. Multiple parties, including BP, [oilfield services company] Halliburton and offshore drilling company Transocean, were involved,” said Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive. The report even mentioned that the fault was of the rig operators. The safety board investigator Mary Beth Mulcahy said that well owner BP and rig operator Transocean didn’t test the blowout preventer’s individually for safety. They just tested the device as a whole. It turned out there were two sets of faulty wiring that caused problems and a dead battery.

Mulcahy even said that individual tests were suggested by the preventer’s manufacturer but the companies instead followed a standard set by the industry. The safety board also found that the drill pipe bent before the accident occurred. Not only pipe was fault blowout preventers were equally at fault stated by investigation team in the report. To overcome the defects investigation team made a report which states recommendation which can prevent such incidents in future. Firstly starting from technical point of view. Strengthen Bp’s rig audit to improve the closure and verification of audit findings and actions across BP-owned and BP-contracted drilling rigs. From Safety performance it require drilling contractors to implement an auditable integrity monitoring system to continuously assess and improve the integrity performance of well control equipment’s against a set of established leading and lagging indicators. Assess and confirm that essential well control and well monitoring practices, such as well monitoring and shut-in procedures are clearly defined and rigorously applied on all BP-owned and BP-contracted offshore rigs. Rig safety is also important. It requires Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) reviews of the surface gas and drilling fluid systems. While taking reviews of HAZOP phase 1 should address offshore rigs and phase 2 addresses to selected onshore rigs such as high pressure and high temperature.

Overall, the oil spill disaster in Gulf of Mexico leaves great effect behind on environment as well as human life. The team did nt identify any single or inaction that caused this accident to occur rather a complex system having mechanical failures, human judgments, design and team interfaces all together became the reason for this accident. After all the investigation was carried out series of recommendations was driven out to enable prevention of similar accidents. The recommendation covered two broad areas which would be kept in mind to avoid such disaster- Drilling and well operation practice and operating management system implementation, contractor and service oversight and assurance

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