The Van Winkle Project: A

Causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill


On April 20, 2010, the staff of the Deepwater Horizon was getting ready to briefly abandon BP’s “Macondo” discovery really in Mississippi Canyon (MC) Block 252 (Figure 1).

In some hours, they would were prepared move the drilling rig off area in order for a conclusion rig could move ahead. At about 10:00 p.m., the rig unexpectedly began to shake and a loud surging noise ended up being combined with gas, drilling mud and sea-water that chance high over the floor associated with drill ship. The gas exploded in addition to rig ended up being engulfed in flames. Another explosion used and electrical energy went. Eleven men died instantly and 115 other individuals rushed towards lifeboats or jumped to the gulf coast of florida. This all took place therefore quickly that people just who passed away most likely had almost no time to comprehend the thing that was happening. Two days later on, the Deepwater Horizon sank toward bottom associated with the gulf, and oil has-been spilling in to the Gulf at prices with a minimum of 5, 000 barrels each day since then(you can find 42 gallons in a barrel).

The MC 252 well is located in 5, 067 ft of liquid about 50 kilometers through the coast of Louisiana. The total level regarding the fine was 18, 360 ft below sea level (13, 293 ft underneath the sea floor). This is not an unusually deep really nor had been it drilled in exceptionally deep water when compared with many other wells into the gulf. The Gulf drilling depth record was set early in the day this season at over 30, 000 ft underneath the water flooring (The Oil Drum, January 18, 2010: ), plus the existing water-depth record of 10, 011 ft ended up being emerge 2003.

Much information features surfaced considering that the accident through congressional and Mineral Management Service (MMS) hearings, public statements from the organizations involved and, may 16, an attribute report on CBS Television’s Sixty Minutes program. Most of these details arises from eye-witness accounts by folks on or close to the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the blowout.

We give consideration to all of the publicly offered reports to date becoming potential hearsay although they probably contain the right observations and elements of truth. I discount the value regarding the testimonials mainly because not one of the people were in the rig flooring at the time of the blowout. Furthermore, the only real people who have an extensive and fact-based understanding of the events ultimately causing the accident are generally sequestered because of the companies involved or are lifeless.

Chronology for the Disaster

1. The well had reached a level of 13, 293 ft below the ocean floor. The final string of manufacturing casing through the wellhead within ocean floor to total level was in fact put in the opening, and cemented in place on April 19, 2010.

2. Just 51 barrels of concrete were used according to the fine plan. This is perhaps not adequate to ensure a seal between your 7-inch manufacturing casing as well as the formerly cemented 9 7/8-inch defense casing (Figure 2).

3. Mud had been lost into reservoir while drilling the base percentage of the fine (this is called “lost circulation”). It usually suggests good reservoir quality, an interval of reduced pressure or both, and may lead to an enlarged wellbore or “washout”. The significance of the is that it could have already been difficult to produce good cement seal involving the casing and also the development. Additionally would-have-been impractical to make sure the effectiveness of cement seal without working a cement-bond sign, and also this was not done.

4. The cement included a nitrogen additive to really make it lighter such that it would flow more easily and better fill the area between your casing and also the lost circulation-washout area. This also might have reduced its sealing effectiveness. Gasoline from reservoir might have further diluted the viscosity of the cement.

5. While waiting more or less 20 hours when it comes to concrete to dry on April 20, the team began displacing the drilling fluid (“mud”) in the wellbore and riser with sea-water before establishing a cement plug and going off area. This dirt was moved into tanks within surface, after which onto a platform offer vessel alongside the rig (whose captain offered testimony before an MMS hearing the other day).



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