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Deepwater Horizon Blowout.


On April 20, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling rig experienced a blowout while abandoning a well (after cementing operations). The primary piece of equipment used to stop a blowout in progress is the blowout preventer (BOP). This six-story tall, 400-ton piece of equipment is located on top of the wellhead on the ocean floor, 5,000 feet below sea level. The BOP contains five dual ram-like devices to control a well, which are described in numerous reports. The backstop device, if all fails, is the blind shear ram (BSR) that can both shear drill pipe that may be in the well as well as seal the well. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB), in approving its final report in April 2006, claimed the BSR failed "for reasons the offshore drilling industry remains largely unaware of..." This is an issue that must be considered in an emergency, along with upper bound pipe shear properties and the friction forces that develop in closing a BSR during a blowout. These issues have been inadequately addressed in the industry, but are detailed in the paper. 

In 2011, the BEAR team was asked to provide forensic engineering and economics analysis on the BP Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. One piece of the analysis consisted of evaluating the possibility of a stand-by blowout preventer that might have shortened the time and amount of uncontrolled release of oil and hence lessened the damages cause by the well blowout. A straight forward cost/benefit analysis was performed.

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