New report lays out failures that led to Deepwater Horizon explosion

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

An interim report released today by the National Academy of Engineering lays out a series of failures that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill.

The report isn’t pretty. It points to “failures and missed indications of hazard,” “insufficient checks and balances” on safety and a “lack of a suitable approach for anticipating and managing the inherent risks.”

Though The Wall Street Journal had a story on the report today, I thought I’d pull out some key points.

  • “The failures and missed indications of hazard were not isolated events during the preparation of the Macondo well for temporary abandonment. Numerous decisions to proceed toward abandonment despite indications of hazard, such as the results of repeated negative-pressure tests, suggest an insufficient consideration of risk and a lack of operating discipline. The decisions also raise questions about the adequacy of operating knowledge on the part of key personnel.”
  • “Available evidence suggests there were insufficient checks and balances for decisions involving both the schedule to complete well abandonment procedures and considerations for well safety.”
  • “The various failures mentioned in this report indicate the lack of a suitable approach for anticipating and managing the inherent risks, uncertainties, and dangers associated with deepwater drilling operations and a failure to learn from previous near misses.”

The interim report was conducted by the Committee on the Analysis of Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Explosion, Fire, and Oil Spill to Identify Measures to Prevent Similar Accidents in the Future. The report was commissioned by the Interior Department.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised the report:

Their independent, science-based analysis of what went wrong in the lead up to the blowout will help guide our continuing efforts to raise the bar for safety and oversight of offshore oil and gas operations, and will be of assistance to other ongoing investigations.  I look forward to receiving the team’s final report and to the additional insight and recommendations they will be providing us over the coming months.

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