Deepwater Horizon Accident

Pictures, Videos, and Reports on the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon Accident

An Environmental Disaster Unfolds - Pictures Over Time

The Deepwater Horizon Picture Story

Department of Energy Photos

Video from the Accident Site

60 Minutes TV Show on the Deepwater Horizon

Part 1

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Part 2

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Deepwater Horizon Study Group

During May 2010, members of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management (CCRM1) at the University of California Berkeley formed the Deepwater Horizon Study Group (DHSG2). The DHSG is an international group (60 members) of experienced professionals, experts, and scholars who have extensive experience in offshore oil and gas facilities and operations, drilling and reservoir engineering, geology, accident investigations, management, organizational behavior, government regulatory affairs, legislative – legal processes, marine ecology and environmental science, and risk assessment and management. The DHSG members have volunteered their time without compensation. A list of the DHSG members who have approved publication of their names and affiliations is provided in Appendix A. The DHSG would like to express its gratitude to all of its members, collaborators and supporters for their contributions to this important work.

The DHSG has three major goals: (1) to produce a final report documenting results from the studies of the failures of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon Block 252 well drilling project and the subsequent containment and mitigation activities; 2) to serve as advisors to the public, governments, industry, and environmental advocates who want timely, unbiased well-informed insights and information regarding the failures and what should be done to reduce the future likelihoods and consequences associated with such failures in ultra deepwater and arctic hydrocarbon resource developments, and 3) to develop a central archive and communications system for data and information accumulated during the investigations that can be used by researchers and others for subsequent analysis and documentation of their investigations, studies, and reports.

The first progress report (May 24, 2010) concludes:

“This disaster was preventable had existing progressive guidelines and practices been followed. This catastrophic failure appears to have resulted from multiple violations of the laws of public resource development, and its proper regulatory oversight.”

The second progress report (July 15, 2010) concludes:

“…these failures (to contain, control, mitigate, plan, and clean-up) appear to be deeply rooted in a multidecade history of organizational malfunction and shortsightedness. There were multiple opportunities to properly assess the likelihoods and consequences of organizational decisions (i.e., Risk Assessment and Management) that were ostensibly driven by the management’s desire to “close the competitive gap” and improve bottom-line performance. Consequently, although there were multiple chances to do the right things in the right ways at the right times, management’s perspective failed to recognize and accept its own fallibilities despite a record of recent accidents in the U.S. and a series of promises to change BP’s safety culture.”

The third progress report (December 1, 2010) concludes:

“Analyses of currently available evidence indicates the single critical element precipitating this blowout was the undetected entry of high pressure – high temperature ‘highly charged’ hydrocarbons into the Macondo well. This important change in the ‘environment’ was then allowed to exploit multiple inherent weaknesses in the system’s barriers and defenses to develop a blowout. Once the blowout occurred, additional weaknesses in the system’s barriers and defenses were exposed and exploited to develop the Macondo well disaster. Investigations have disclosed an almost identical sequence of developments resulted in the Montara well blowout that occurred 8 months earlier offshore Australia (Montara Commission of Inquiry 2010).”

“Analysis of the available evidence indicates that when given the opportunity to save time and money – and make money – tradeoffs were made for the certain thing – production – because there were perceived to be no downsides associated with the uncertain thing – failure caused by the lack of sufficient protection. Thus, as a result of a cascade of deeply flawed failure and signal analysis, decision-making, communication, and organizational - managerial processes, safety was compromised to the point that the blowout occurred with catastrophic effects.”

“At the time of the Macondo blowout, BP’s corporate culture remained one that was embedded in risktaking and cost-cutting – it was like that in 2005 (Texas City), in 2006 (Alaska North Slope Spill), and in 2010 (“The Spill”). Perhaps there is no clear-cut “evidence” that someone in BP or in the other organizations in the Macondo well project made a conscious decision to put costs before safety; nevertheless, that misses the point. It is the underlying “unconscious mind” that governs the actions of an organization and its personnel. Cultural influences that permeate an organization and an industry and manifest in actions that can either promote and nurture a high reliability organization with high reliability systems, or actions reflective of complacency, excessive risk-taking, and a loss of situational awareness.”

The UC Berkeley Deepwater Horizon Study Group FINAL REPORT has been published and is provided here.

Also the Final Report and the associated Working papers (39) are available for downloading at:

The majority of the documents developed by the Study Group during the investigation are available for search and downloading at:

Other Information

BP, Shell, and the Design of Deep Wells

By Andrew C. Revkin

The hyperlink below includes a presentation given by Joe Leimkuhler and John Hollowell, two Shell drilling specialists, in which they describe in detail the differences between Shell and BP's approaches to deep-sea oil drilling, including a side-by-side comparison of the designs favored by Shell and BP.

BP, Shell, and the Design of Deep Wells

Key Aspects of an Effective U.S. Offshore Safety Regime


Attached is a Position Paper from Det Norske Veritas (DNV) "Key Aspects of an Effective U.S. Offshore Safety Regime". DNV is a Nordic foundation specializing in risk management for the energy, maritime, petrochemical, food and health industries. The Position Paper was prepared as part of the Deepwater Horizon discussions about regulatory changes needed.

Members of Past Disaster Panels See Recurring Pattern Nuclear-safety group sets an example for offshore drilling

The oil industry must form a safety group patterned from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, which has helped improve safety and performance at nuclear plants, said William Reilly, co-chairman of a presidential commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico spill. INPO was created after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, and it continues to conduct frequent inspections of facilities. An organization similar to INPO could "create the safety culture that's needed" in offshore drilling, Reilly added.

Members of Past Disaster Panels See Recurring Pattern Nuclear-Safety Group Sets an Example for Offshore Drilling

BP's Internal Investigation Team's Report

BP has published its internal investigation team's report into the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010. The investigation found that no single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy. Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

Six months later, what did we learn from the oil disaster in the Gulf?

National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council Preliminary Report on the Causes of the Deepwater Horizon OIl Rig Blowout andWays to Prevent Such Events

Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours

Scientists find massive damage from BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

UK Deepwater Drilling—Implications of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The British House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has released a report on the implications of the Deepwater Horizon accident on UK deepwater drilling. The report provides 25 recommendations for UK government and industry responsible for UK deepwater operations. As an overall observation the report states:

"We believe that the offshore industry needs to revisit scenarios that they previously thought were too extreme and unlikely to occur. As demonstrated by BP’s response in the Gulf of Mexico, the industry was not prepared for a sub-sea blowout. They incorrectly believed that they had mitigated away the risks associated with high-consequence, low probability events, and failed to plan for them. We conclude that BP appears to have cut corners during its operations to make the Macondo well ready for production. We are concerned that the poor decisions made in the run up to the blowout—that led to loss of 11 lives and 4.9 million barrels of oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico—could have been driven by commercial pressures.”

Regulation of Offshore Rigs Is a Work in Progress

Statement from U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman on One-Year Anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Accident


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