Deepwater Horizon Video Recreates Blowout

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 @ 01:06 PM gHale

Investigations about the Deepwater Horizon incident paint a picture with words, but a new Chemical Safety Board (CSB) computer animation recreates the chilling scenario behind what really happened in the blowout disaster.

With the events leading up to the April 20, 2010 blowout, the video depicts how high-pressure oil and gas from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico caused an explosion on the drilling rig that killed 11 workers and seriously injured 17 others. The rig burned for two days, eventually sinking and triggering the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

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The narrated animation illustrates how the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer failed to seal the well on the night of the accident because drill pipe buckled due to a mechanism known as “effective compression.”

In addition, the CSB talks about how the blowout preventer’s blind shear ram – an emergency hydraulic device with two sharp cutting blades meant to cut the drill pipe and seal the well – likely did activate on the night of the accident. Because the drill pipe buckled and resulted in being off-center inside the blowout preventer, it was only able to end up partially cut.

The video notes that although effective compression could be a hazard in other drilling operations, no one ever thought it would be a problem affecting drill pipe during well operations.

CSB investigators said this is an important finding because the same conditions that buckled the drill pipe during the Deepwater Horizon accident could occur at other drilling rigs – even if a crew successfully shuts in a well.

Click here to view the animation.

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