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Deepwater Horizon: Lessons Learned Five Years Later

April 20, 2015

5 years after the tragic BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, private and government investigators continue to study and explore the events surrounding the catastrophic blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. A recently-released report summarizes the findings from 21 independent investigations of the tragedy and provides insight into the lessons offshore drilling companies have learned since.

Background on the BP / Transocean Deepwater Horizon Blowout

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig experienced a catastrophic blowout on the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico—roughly 90 miles southeast of Houston, TX.   Of the 126 men and women onboard, 11 were killed and dozens were injured.  Three days later, the rig sunk, leading to the release of an estimated five million barrels of gas and crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the largest oil spill and one of the most deadly offshore blowouts in history.

Lessons Learned from BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion

Our Maritime Lawyers had the privilege of representing 5 of the brave men and women who were seriously injured onboard the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded.  Less than 18 months after filing their cases, we reached a highly favorable (and confidential) settlement that ensured that our clients will receive the best medical care available and that they and their families will never have to worry about their financial security again.

Below is a list of some of the most serious safety and operational failures that we uncovered from the tens of thousands of documents that were produced throughout the lawsuits:

  • Culture played a significant role. A study conducted by the U.S. Deepwater Horizon Commission concluded that cultural issues within BP and its contractors were key factors in the events leading up to the rig explosion. Specifically, it noted the importance of a strong safety culture as a, “key factor for enhancing safety” in offshore drilling operations at BP and in the Gulf of Mexico generally. The U.S. Coast Guard’s report similarly found that Transocean’s, “failure to have an effective safety management system and instill a culture that emphasized and ensured safety,” contributed to the disaster as well. One study even went so far as to say that, at the time of the explosion, BP’s corporate culture was “embedded in risk-taking and cost-cutting.”
  • There is a need for enhanced federal safety regulations. President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill noted a dire need for increased federal safety regulations focused on both risk management and mandatory best practices. The National Commission also called for an increase in the liability cap for offshore losses as well as enhancements to the claims payment system in order to ensure adequate financial responsibility.
  • Quicker response and better safety protocols are critical to ensure the safety of offshore oil rig workers. Discussing the technical issues leading up to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the National Commission also noted that the response preceding the blowout was not swift enough to ward off the catastrophic blowout. The summary report suggests that improvements in employee training and increased accountability for oil companies, the federal government, and the drilling industry as a whole could all help mitigate the risk of similar disasters in the future.

While the summary report highlights measures that have been taken to help protect the safety of offshore workers – including the creation of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) – events such as the Santa Barbara pipeline spill show that there is still much work to be done. At Zehl & Associates, we are doing our part to hold rig operators and oil companies responsible for losses sustained by their employees.

Injured Working Offshore? Call Our Experienced Maritime Lawyers for a Free Consult at 1-888-603-3636

Having successfully represented injured workers in connection with the largest onshore and offshore explosions in recent history, our Maritime Lawyers have the experience, resources and commitment to ensure that our clients receive the maximum recovery in the shortest time possible.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an offshore accident, contact Zehl & Associates today for a free consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here.