The Simple Truth
BP’s Macondo Blowout
Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon, a massive offshore drilling rig, fed 126 workers the evening of 20 April 2010. They ate well—a perk for being at sea, for working hard, for being away from their families.
That was BEFORE BP’s blowout aboard the rig later that night.
AFTER BP’s blowout, the effects staggered the world, including the burnt remains of the Deepwater Horizon, resting on bottom in the mile-deep Gulf, along with elven dead men, their bodies not recovered. Plus mourning families, an environmental disaster, lost jobs, billion-dollar lawsuit, and criminal fines. Residents along the Gulf Coast are not happy with such effects. Nor is anybody else. And none will ever forget.
While much of the world continues to focus on the tragedy of lost lives, the spill itself, and the media-intense world of deep pockets, finger pointing, and politics, there’s still something missing from the headlines—the cause, as in cause and effect. As in, where’s the simple journalism that defines the human, engineering, and operating events on the rig that led up to and caused the blowout and one of the most lethal environmental disasters in U.S. history. Such things, we all want to know. Such things, every person touched by the catastrophe, plus those with a vested interest in the outcome—victims, defendants, the media, investors, people who purchase gasoline, academics, politicians, drilling experts, the entire oil-and-gas industry—as well as avid readers who want to vicariously enter the world of offshore drilling, will want to know . . . because none wants it to ever happen again.
Hence, nested between BEFORE and AFTER, there is a book: THE SIMPLE TRUTH: BP’s Macondo Blowout. The author, J.A. Turley, tells the story based on non-fiction drilling data made public by the companies that drilled the well and by federal and academic investigators after the fact.
The factual book is footnoted and referenced, yet is written as fiction because the characters are fictional surrogates for survivors and the eleven perfect witnesses who cannot speak for themselves. Barry is BP’s on-site company man, a skilled and educated petroleum engineer in charge of BP’s million-dollar-a-day exploration well. Jessica is BP’s on-site geologist. Her job is to confirm the well is either a major oil discovery or a dry hole. Transocean owns the Deepwater Horizon and depends on Tanker, Daylight, and others to run the massive drilling facilities and drill the well as directed by BP. The story is about how such key characters, all good people, work together to make each day a success, or for the tragedy that will surely follow if mistakes are made, trust is lost, and authority gets lost in the shuffle.
Though readers will safely kibitz the foreplay, conception, and birth of the house-of-cards disaster, few on the rig will survive without scars. Others won’t be so lucky.
In Turley’s non-fiction Epilogue, he delineates and references for readers who want to dig deeper, the specific on-the-rig technical and operating causes of the blowout. His book is not about the blame game—whether about real persons either offshore and onshore, or named companies contracted to BP—where all parties are destined to get their day in court through depositions and during the 2013-14 civil trails. Neither is the book about the effects of the disaster, topics covered in depth by more than a dozen authors, as referenced on a following page.
Turley writes from an insider’s perspective. Advanced degrees in petroleum engineering and ocean engineering, plus a three-year petroleum-engineering professorship at Marietta College, prepared him for a career in offshore drilling. His two decades of on-the-rig and drilling-management responsibilities with a major U.S. energy company led to new responsibilities as manager of worldwide drilling. Then after a number of years as a company executive, he retired early to focus on writing. Though mysteries are his forte, he says the cause of BP’s blowout is no mystery—it is black and white; hence, THE SIMPLE TRUTH . . . about its cause.