Why the Deepwater Horizon Crew Died…Poor Training, Poor Maintenance

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Of the many things that went wrong on April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon, the explosion that destroyed the oil platform and killed 11 crew members boiled down two primary causes: insufficient training and poor maintenance.
 
An investigation by The New York Times concluded that Transocean, owner of the rig, failed to properly train the crew for the worst possible scenario: a blowout of the well. Those manning the Deepwater Horizon were overwhelmed by the complexity of emergency procedures after natural gas began pouring out of the well and enveloping the platform. “One emergency system alone was controlled by 30 buttons,” wrote the newspaper.
 
One survivor of the accident, 23-year-old bridge officer Andrea Fleytas, said it never occurred to her to use the emergency shutdown system—because no one bothered to teach her how to do so.
 
Adding to the disaster was Transocean’s failure to properly maintain the blowout preventer, the hulking piece of equipment near the ocean floor that was designed to keep natural gas from surging up the well to the Deepwater Horizon’s deck. Investigators reportedly found evidence of dead batteries, bad solenoid valves and leaking hydraulic lines on the blowout preventer before the accident occurred.
 
The company also didn’t perform an expensive 90-day maintenance inspection of the blowout preventer that the manufacturer said should be done every three to five years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours (by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul, New York Times)
Shareholders Sue Transocean for Hiding Oil Rig Blowout Preventer Failures (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

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