Deepwater Horizon One of History's Worst Offshore Accidents

Deepwater Horizon Explosion

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The Deepwater Horizon was a semi-submersible offshore oil rig built in 2001 and owned by Transocean. It was eventually leased to BP and was involved in drilling history's deepest oil well. On February 2010, the Deepwater Horizon began drilling an exploratory well at the Macondo Prospect, which was about 40 miles off of the Louisiana coast. It was a prospect jointly owned by BP, Anadarko, and MOEX Offshore 2007. Two months later, the rig was wrapping up the well and was in the stages of the well's conclusion.

April 20, 2010: The Explosion

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 20, 2010, there was an explosion of seawater from the rig's drilling riser. Shortly after this 240-foot eruption of seawater followed a combination of mud, methane gas, and water. This resulted in several explosions on the ship and then a "firestorm." Of the crewmembers who were aboard the vessel at the time of the blast, 11 were killed. The rest of the crew was evacuated, with many being airlifted to receive emergency medical attention. The oil rig burned for approximately 36 hours after the initial explosion and sank 2 days later.

The Subsequent Oil Spill

The blast resulted in the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history. This is referred to as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as the BP oil spill. It continued for three months after the explosion until July of that year. In total, over 4.9 million barrels were released with over 53,000 barrels released on average daily. On July 15, 2010, the wellhead was finally capped as they finally staunched the wound. Beyond the injuries sustained by the crew, the oil caused extensive damage to the area surrounding it—affecting wildlife, the environment, and the coastal communities. Much of the shoreline was closed while ships, containment booms, barriers, and other methods of cleanup were utilized to contain and stop the spill from spreading. As of November 2010, it was estimated that over 320 miles of the Louisiana coastline had ultimately been affected.

January 2011: The White House’s Final Report

In January 2011, the White House oil spill commission released their final report on the causes of the BP oil spill. In the report, they stated the involved companies (BP, Halliburton, and Transocean) had not taken the proper steps to provide safeguards against something of this nature. They also released a chart that showed the correlation of decisions that possibly saved time and money but increased the assumed risks of those aboard. Some of the fundamental mistakes that were cited by the commission include the failure of using a cement bond log to test the cement's stability. By not exercising proper caution, they did not check the cement, which ultimately proved to be unstable. They also displaced mud in the riser pipe, did not run the appropriate tests, and did not correctly learn from previous mistakes that could have avoided this disaster.

Arnold & Itkin Represents Deepwater Horizon Crewmembers

At Arnold & Itkin, we recognize the tragedy of what occurred on the Deepwater Horizon. As such, we were proud to represent more than a third of the crewmembers who were aboard the rig at the time of the incident. If you would like to hear straight from the clients who worked with our firm in the wake of this tragedy, we encourage you to watch our videos. Just click here to be taken to a page that shares the videos discussing the case and how our firm was able to help the crewmembers. If you would like to learn more about our firm or if you would like to discuss your potential case with us, please call today. You can also click here to request your free case evaluation online. We look forward to hearing from you.

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