Four years ago yesterday evening, the company formerly known as British Petroleum (BP) , along with partners Transocean (RIG) and Halliburton (HAL) suddenly found themselves in the unfortunate position of the newest representative of the big bad fossil fuel industry.
The explosion at BP’s Gulf of Mexico deepwater Macondo well killed 11 workers and sent some 200 million gallons of oil into the ocean before the well was finally sealed, some 87 days later.
In the immediate wake of the incident the three companies pointed fingers at one another, and BP consistently mislead the public about how much oil was actually leaking into the Gulf, always claiming that the amount was less than it actually turned out to be.
Four years on, the company is still doing its best to not pay a massive settlement it had agreed to and even seems to be gaining some ground in the courts in this regard. Be that as it may, Transocean is actually the company that built the well and a poorly equipped blowout preventer is, in terms of mechanics at least, responsible for a disaster that will most likely continue to make life difficult for Gulf communities for years to come.
The company put together a fairly technical but accessible presentation as to what went wrong with the blowout preventer that was supposed to prevent just such an incident. It’s at once a testament to the technological and engineering know-how necessitated by deep sea drilling as well as a reminder of how easily these machines can fail. Not to mention the damage that can ensue when such a failure occurs.
It’s a fascinating video and one deserving of review on what should be a very solemn day of commemoration. For those who aren't as technically literate as they might otherwise like to be, there is no need to worry as the computer visualization adequately explains what happened.