New technology, reduced risk and increased inspections; some key areas law makers and oil industry leaders worked to improve in the five years since the Deep Water Horizon explosion.
The massive explosion on BP’s Macondo offshore oil platform took the lives of 11 workers. On April 20, 2010, oil and methane gas were released into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days and went as deep as one mile below the surface. The next morning, the oil platform sank into the gulf, where it remains underwater.
Since that time, major industry enhancements have taken place, now that the industry itself better understands the consequences.
“Drilling in the ultra-deep water like where the horizon was is like going to the moon that type of technology,” explained Don Briggs.
As the President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Briggs said the changes to the oil industry since 2010 all surround one mail goal; to prevent future disasters.
The industry stepped up as a whole, with major oil leaders and companies creating the Marine Well Containment Company and the Helix Well Containment Group.
“They have been able to develop new systems,” Briggs said. “These systems can stop blowouts and reduce any damage so that it is not as disastrous to the environment.”
In addition, the U.S. Department of Interior dissolved an agency tasked with collecting and regulating leasing revenue. The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE) exist in its place. BOEM oversees exploration and environmental planning, while BSEE oversees drilling safety and inspection as well as enhancing blowout preventer testing.
There are also over 90 offshore inspectors working in the Gulf; three times the amount before the oil spill.
The changes, according to Briggs, brought about major industry recovery and growth and described the aftermath as an example of the industry’s resilience.
“The industry has grown a lot as we always do from those kinds of accidents and mistakes as we explore new horizons. The industry has fared well. The rig count is back up although it’s going down now because of the price of oil but all in all it’s doing fairly well.”