Gulf Oil Rig Explosion Caused by Collapse of Defenses, Report Finds

The oil rig explosion that left millions of gallons of crude streaming into the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th occurred because all of the Deepwater Horizon’s defenses against a blowout failed, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The Times collected interviews with 21 Horizon crew members, accounts of the 94 survivors who escaped the disaster, and documents describing the rig’s operations in order to perform a comprehensive investigation of the tragedy that spurred the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

The newspaper found that failure to prepare for the worst combined with the complexity of the Horizon’s defenses contributed to the disaster.

Much of the crew was unaware of the crisis for nine minutes as the drilling crew fought the blowout, the Times said.

Crew members were paralyzed by the complexity of the rig’s defenses and could not coordinate a response. One emergency system alone was controlled by 30 buttons, the paper noted.

While Transocean had provided the crew with a handbook detailing how to respond to a blowout, the emergency protocols called for rapid action while advising against overreaction.

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