How Did The Oil Industry Change Post-Deepwater Horizon?

Back in the April of 2010, the world watched helplessly as one history’s worst ever environmental disasters took place. A lethal blowout on the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo well resulted in the loss of 11 rig workers, and in millions of gallons of oil seeping out into the ocean. The impacts, not only on the sector but globally, were profound. It took an entire 3 months, not to clean up the disaster, but to finally cap the leak. The effects were also long-lasting, and in 2013, 3 years after the disaster, 4.9 million lbs of oily material were removed from beaches in Louisiana. The team here at TriStone Holdings Ltd, an expanding UK oil and gas investment company, wanted to take a look back at the oil spill, and what’s changed within the industry since.

What Happened?

On April 20th, large volumes of high-pressure methane rose into the drilling rig, where it subsequently exploded. The whole platform was immediately engulfed in flames. There have been various causes attributed to the incident. The prevailing theory, however, is that cement lining the well was defective.

The oil itself was only discovered to be leaking a couple of days after the explosion, on the 22nd of April. Once the slick started spreading, the oil spill didn’t stop flowing for almost 90 days. Even after the surface oil seemed to have disappeared, sub-surface levels of oil were thought to have remained for months, if not years after the incident.

Better Prepared

Following the disaster, it transpired that to properly cap the spill, equipment had to be designed and made from scratch, rather than having anything ready to help proactively deal with the situation.

That’s in part why it took those 3 months to cap in the first place. Since the disaster, new regulations have been introduced and entire new regulatory bodies set up to better mitigate such disasters from happening again.

In practical terms, the number and regularity with which inspections took place increased significantly following the spill; in fact, inspections per facility increased a staggering 86% following the disaster. Following the disaster, responsibilities shifted more from industry bodies to the rigs and their companies, themselves.

How Common Are Oil Spills?

Over the past 50 years, there’s been a huge decrease in the number of oil spills, worldwide. This has been for both for large and medium-sized oil spills. Correspondingly, the actual amount of oil spilled has seen a big fall over the years, as well.

Oil is still spilled every year, however, as the Deepwater Horizon disaster shows. Even more recently, in 2018, the Sanchi oil tanker collided with another vessel. This led to its sinking and a slick of over 140 square kilometres.

Thankfully, this is no longer the norm, and nowadays 99.99% of all oil transported over water safely reaches its destination.

It seems the industry is making meaningful steps towards making sure events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill never happen again. There’s still a long way to go, of course, but progress is progress.

With potentially stricter regulations on the cards, the industry is arguably as safe as it has ever been. So, if you’d like to find out more about our UK oil and gas investment company, then get in touch! Contact TriStone Holdings Ltd today on 0800 055 7079. Whilst you’re at it, why not check out our Facebook page?


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