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OWOE - Oil And Gas - What has the oil industry done since the BP Horizon disaster to prevent similar accidents?
  OWOE Vignette A4 - BP Horizon Disaster
OWOE Vignette A4 - BP Horizon Disaster
Figure 1 - BP Horizon fire
Video - Shell's Capping Stacks - Ready to Respond (Shell)
What has the oil industry done since the BP Horizon disaster to prevent similar accidents?
Topic updated: 2015-09-01

The oil industry has seen amazing advances in technology over history, including steam injection, directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing, deepwater platforms, and automated drilling. However, great achievements often come with risk, and the industry has had a number of major accidents in the past, including the Exxon Valdez, the Ocean Ranger, Piper Alpha, and the most recent, the BP Horizon explosion.

On April 20, 2010 the Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean and under contract to BP to drill the Macondo exploration well in the US Gulf of Mexico experienced a gas leak which led to an explosion (see Figure 1). Eleven people died and 16 others were injured in the incident. The rig subsequently sank and created a massive oil spill. BP, government agencies and many others united to work together to control the spill, remove and/or disperse oil in the water, and clean up oil that came ashore.

Each major incident like the BP Horizon explosion, has brought the industry and government together to study the events in great depth and identify new requirements and safeguards to be implemented. After the BP Horizon disaster, the government instituted a 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to be sure future drilling wouldn't result in a similar accident. During that period additional deepwater drilling safeguards were developed, requirements for well design were strengthened, expanded government oversight was mandated, and the industry developed new tools and techniques to respond to any future spills. As an example of industry response, see the video by Shell regarding capping stacks which have been designed, fabricated, and tested and are available at strategic locations around the world for rapid deployment in case of an underwater well blowout.

Ultimately, the oil industry and government, working together in response to these accidents, have improved safety and environmental performance and allowed the industry to continue to find and produce the oil and gas required by today's world.

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