Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we are closer than ever to catastrophe

From:  The Guardian

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon accident, the oil and gas industry has not retreated to safety. Instead, it has expanded its technological horizon in ways that make it harder to foresee the complex interactions between drilling technologies, inevitable human errors and the ultra-deepwater environment.

Before its sinking, Deepwater Horizon had drilled one of the deepest oil and gas wells. That depth has since been surpassed, and exploration continues to new frontiers. Not far from the Deepwater Horizon accident site, Royal Dutch Shell is now developing the deepest offshore oil field in history. In the Caspian Sea, an international consortium is exploring the Kashagan oil and gas field, a mega-project that the consortium itself describes as an enormously challenging endeavour. And the hunt for Arctic oil takes place in some of the most inhospitable waters in the world.

Numerous analyses of the Deepwater Horizon accident have pointed to three contributing causes: the complexity and inherent riskiness of oil drilling systems, human and organisational factors and regulatory challenges. In the past half-decade, we have made little progress in these areas. Indeed, the risk of another catastrophic spill may be greater than ever before.  MORE