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Blowout Preventer (BOP)

It could have prevented the Deepwater Horizon from leaking billions of barrels of crude after the drilling rig exploded. Blowout preventers (BOP) are paramount in the deep water drilling industry. Wells are at a much higher risk of exploding or malfunctioning when they are being drilled at such great depths. This is why BOPs are so important. Blowout preventers are essentially specialized valves that can seal oil and gas wells in an instant. If a well explodes, these are designed to deal with intense pressure and heavy flow coming from the well reservoir.

Uncontrollable flows are called formation kicks. A kick that has enough pressure can cause a well to blowout. BOPs not only can control the flow after it has already started, they can prevent drill pipes and drilling fluid from being blown out of the bore hole. With a properly working blowout preventer in place, the environment is kept safer and even more importantly, offshore workers are safer.

Checking Well Integrity

Maintaining well integrity can be defined as applying the necessary technological and organizational solutions so as to reduce the risk of blowouts and other gas leaks throughout the lifetime of a well. Those responsible for well integrity all work together to complete different tasks. There are those who work in accountability capacities. These individuals make sure that the necessary tasks are getting done. Sometimes, they will actually be the ones to carry out the tasks as well. Those charged with executing the necessary tasks on a well are well operations engineers, operators, and other well service techs.

There are also those who monitor the production tubing. The tubing involved in a production well is prone to corrosion due to the fluids that are used for drilling. The annalus of the well also needs to remain in balance with the pressure that is in the tubing. If the pressure gets off balance then the tubing may collapse entirely. Those who work on wells must be specialized engineers or other personnel specially trained to carry out their job requirements. Maintaining well integrity is complex.

BOP and the Deepwater Horizon Explosion

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010. The BOP, as they are supposed to, was intended to activate automatically upon explosion. It did not. As a backup, underwater robots were used to manually attempt to trigger the system, but this did not work. A month after the incident when crude was still leaking into the Gulf Coast, investigations found that the blowout preventer's valves were partially closed, which was restricting the flow of oil. What investigators speculated was that the emergency systems may have become damaged in the explosion. The blowout preventer that failed weighed 300 tons.

Working on deep water wells is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. If you are an offshore worker employed in this occupation, then you are likely protected by the Jones Act. This is a special provision in admiralty law that protects those who spend a certain amount of time on US Navigable waterways. If you would like to learn more about your rights under the Jones Act or how you may be able to obtain compensation, then contact our firm. Arnold & Itkin represented 27 injured crewmembers from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. You can trust our knowledge of the maritime industry when it comes to your case. If you were injured while working on a well or due to a BOP, then contact our offshore injury attorneys today!

What is it Like To Work With Arnold & Itkin

Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

I encountered professionalism, understanding, compassion… lot of compassion. They really felt for what me and my wife were going through.
~ Deepwater Horizon Crew Member

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