Oil and gas

Deepwater Horizon safety failures could be found on other rigs, CSB warns

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Deepwater Horizon

Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington – A series of failures on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that led to a fire and explosion in the Gulf of Mexico could be experienced on other rigs currently in operation, a draft report from the Chemical Safety Board warns.

Eleven workers were killed April 20, 2010, when the oil rig exploded and unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the water.

In its draft report, CSB describes how the Macondo well’s blowout preventer – a device intended to stop the uncontrolled release of oil and gas – did not work properly. In addition to one of two redundant safety systems being wired incorrectly and unable to activate, a drill pipe leading to the well had buckled. This buckling made it impossible for the other safety system to properly cut the pipe and seal off the well.

The report suggests the buckling was caused by pressure differences that could occur in other oil rigs, making current blowout preventer designs less effective.

CSB released the first two of its four-volume draft report on June 5. The final two volumes of the report are forthcoming, the agency said, and will discuss regulatory matters and organizational and human factors raised by the incident.