Five Years Later
Starting 20 April 2010, the last eight months of that year were a terrible time for residents, workers, and tourists along the Gulf Coast. The visible evidence of the five-million-barrel spill improved over time, but that didn’t mean the scars, both human and environmental, were any less traumatic. Even now, we are reminded all too often that some scars never go away. If we call the entire well-publicized effort the agony of coastal recovery, another group of activities commenced, and continue, in the background. Each is important in its own right and collectively.
Such credible activities, on a number of fronts, are all focused on making it unlikely such a disaster will ever happen again.
- As referenced in this Website, a number of authors, along with the media in general, did a credible job of bringing verbal, visual, and hard-copy awareness to the public about the blowout and its disastrous human and environmental effects, with a simple general message: IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED, AND IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
- Also as referenced in this Website, federal and corporate investigators dug deep into understanding the actions and inactions that led up to the disaster. They assessed the players, apportioned blame, and divided the spoils of liability, always with a look toward the future. The civil trial to determine the cause started 25 February 2013 in New Orleans. The civil trial to address the effects of the blowout and oil spill took place in 2013 and 2014. An additional (and hopefully final) criminal trial is set for early 2016.
- In THE SIMPLE TRUTH the author incorporated such investigative results with hard data from the rig and from the well in order to define for the public and for the O&G industry the engineering and operational cause of the blowout. Important to understand are the divisions of responsibilities, strategic and tactical choices, the meaning of black-and-white data, the execution of cook-book plans, and the accumulation of faults on top of mistakes on top of bad decisions . . . until it was too late. These matters must be documented and understood, as they are in THE SIMPLE TRUTH, before any entity can address preventing such events in the future. The author addresses industry-standard recommendations to prevent each of the key failures that collectively contributed to the Macondo blowout. Further, though not covered in the book, Turley’s technical presentation leads the audience through the steps that led to and caused the disaster (as in the book), but then builds on lessons learned and recommends actions on the rig that: (1) would have (should have) prevented the Macondo disaster, and (2) are applicable to future wells drilled around the world: deep or shallow, onshore or offshore, regardless of the price of oil.
- Rules and responsibilities for federal regulatory oversight have changed since the blowout. In May 2010, the MMS (Minerals Management Service) was divided into three separate organizations: BSEE, BOEM, and the ONRR (Office of Natural Resources Revenue). The MMS was renamed BOEMRE in mid-June 2010, and within months the ONRR became a separate office under the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. The Department of the Interior (DOI) closed the BOEMRE on 1 Oct 2011 and formally established two new, independent bureaus: the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). These entities will carry out offshore-energy-management, and safety-and-environmental oversight missions, directly for the DOI. Describing the new organizations, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated: “. . . to strengthen safety and oversight of offshore energy development, and to ensure that the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon guide safe and responsible development . . .”
- The O&G industry has also stepped forward. On one front, the American Petroleum Institute (API) established in March 2011 an active task force, the COS—Center for Offshore Safety. The COS governing board includes members from O&G companies, drilling contractors, service & supply companies, and industry associations. The COS is dedicated to “Promote the highest level of safety for offshore drilling, completions, and operations by effective leadership, communication, teamwork, utilization of disciplined safety management systems, and independent third-party auditing and certification.” Open to all O&G companies that operate in deep water (including 72 operators in the Gulf of Mexico), the COS focus is on safe drilling operations, including offshore equipment, offshore procedures, subsea well control, and oil-spill preparedness and response. The COS works in concert with regulatory focus areas, which include blowout discharge and response, drilling safety rules, spill response and containment, and management systems for safety and the environment.
- Efforts are underway on a number of fronts to further advance ongoing sophisticated processes for regulating, monitoring, and assisting active drilling operations; including, real-time data, offshore process safety, drilling process safety, and safety & environmental management systems.
- The environmental community (with Turley’s absolute support) is adamantly against slow-acting, inefficient, high-toxicity Corexit®, which was used on BP’s five-million-barrel oil spill, and recommends non-toxic, faster-acting, more-efficient, lower-cost, enzyme-based, bug-free, bioremediation agents such as OSE-II, which are used around the world with documented success. Unfortunately, such agents are not currently approved for use in U.S. navigable waters. For more information about such products and how to support the move for approval in the U.S., go to: www.ProtectMarineLifeNow.org
- If there is any doubt the topic continues to be important even FIVE years after the disaster, U.S. federal authorities unveiled in April 2015 their plan for make offshore drilling safer: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/04/13/feds-to-unveil-plan-for-keeping-offshore-oil-wells-in-check-five-years-after-gulf-spill/