Deepwater Horizon was an offshore oil drilling rig, owned by Transocean and was operating a drilling operation for BP. Initially, the oil was commissioned by R&B Falcon. Registered in Majuro, Marshall Islands, and was leased to BP for a period of 13 years starting 2001. The drilling was 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. On 20 April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded killing 11 crewmen. Fire professionals failed to extinguish the inferno. On 22nd April 2010, the oil rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico. It resulted in the largest offshore oil spill that ever happened in the history of U.S.A. Million gallons of oil spilled into the sea, polluting the surrounding marine ecosystem.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was built with two huge pontoons on the bottom (semi-submersible). The floating oil rig was not anchored to the sea floor rather used a dynamic positioning system where 8 thrusters were used to keep the rig in position. The offshore oil drilling rig could move at speeds up to 4 knots. The Deepwater Horizon was monitored and controlled by the means of satellites. This A1 Column Stabilized Drilling Unit (recognized by American Bureau of Shipping) collected 15,000 barrels of oil and 30 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The Deepwater Horizon was designed to drill wells up to 30,000' deep into the sea bed and operate in waters up to 8,000' in depth and. There were 146 crew members aboard. The Deepwater Horizon relocated 52,587 tons with length of 367', a breadth of 256', and a height of 320'. Some experts have figured out the underlying cause behind the oil spill. Construction error may have triggered the disaster. The flawed well plan did not have enough cement between the 7-inch production casing and the 9 7/8-inch protection casing. The blowout preventer is presumed to have failed.
A lot of effort went in to stop or at least slow down the flow of oil and many lives were saved given the quick action and bravery of crewmembers. Two nearby wells were drilled, which might have intersected the MC 252 wellbore within a period of 60 to 90 days. BP had planned to plug the oil well with mud but soon abandoned the idea. They found that if the oil well surface had any leaks then plugging would not be effective. Engineers tried their best to ensure the integrity of the oil well. About 100,000 barrels of oil contaminated the sea every day following the spill. Engineers had siphoned 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil from the oil well each day to prevent further contamination.
An oil spill always affects a lot of life directly and indirectly. In the bp oil spill, almost 5000 barrels of oil poured into the sea every day. A huge amount of marine life loss resulted from the oil spill. The US Geological survey stated that there are two reefs in the region, namely "Florida Reef Tract" and Gulp Flower Garden Banks". Past studies revealed that more harm is caused by the dispersed oil droplets than the crude oil itself. The growth rates of the coral colonies were adversely affected from the oil spill. The coral colonies are responsible for maintaining the ecological balance. As a result of the oil spill, microbes’ growth in the region was rapid. Microbes were responsible for higher oxygen consumption. Moreover, they disturbed the balance of the ecosystem in the sea. The food and the nesting area of the Brown Pelican were severely affected and biologists fear that these birds will avoid the region for a very long time. The habitat of the Atlantic Giant Blue Fin Tuna was also affected from the oil spill. High toxicity in the region has reduced significantly the number of the fish coming to the Gulf.
A final federal report was released on September 14, 2011 on the BP oil spill by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The federal report blamed BP, Halliburton (BP contractor) and Transocean for the oil spill in April 2010. It clearly stated that the three companies violated a number of federal offshore safety regulations. It also stated that there was faulty cement drilling barrier at the Macondo well site. Inadequate well control responses, changes in plans at the last moment, inadequate bridge response training dispensed by the companies and failure to respond to critical indicators resulted in the disaster. A spokesman for BP agreed with the conclusions of the federal report. The federal government sued BP for $20billion to compensate spill victims. The company has already paid $7.5billion to compensate individuals and businesses on the Gulf coast who have suffered financially because of the oil spill.