offshore oil rigging operation

Oil Drilling Disasters: What Happened and How They Can Be Prevented


Oil drilling and how it is done might be a bit controversial, with one side focusing on the economic gains from the practice. In contrast, the other focuses on the damage to the environment and the natural ecosystem. That is the reason that standards are put in place to ensure a somewhat win-win situation for both sides. Unfortunately, even with safety protocols in place, accidents can still happen.

The Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Most oil drilling happens offshore. One such project belongs to Union Oil, with its platform being set a few miles from the coastline of Santa Barbara, CA. In the early hours of January 28, 1969, one of the wells in Platform A blew out and released a thousand gallons of oil and water. The incident was considered a cultural moment as it was the first time that ordinary Americans were concerned about the environment. The following year, the U.S. celebrated Earth Day.

The Quinton Drilling Disaster


The deadliest drilling disaster of the last ten years happened on the morning of January 22, 2018. The unfortunate incident happened at a drilling site outside of Quinton, Oklahoma. It was chalked up to using the improper oil tools for drilling and testing. It was also found that the well was underbalanced, with the fluid not being heavy enough to keep the underground gas at bay. The resulting blowout did not raise any alarm, which resulted in the death of five staff members. It would take more than two years for the investigation of the event to conclude. According to the results, the incident should have been preventable.

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Before the Quiton Drilling Disaster, the Deepwater Horizon Disaster was considered to be the worst drilling disaster of modern times. The rig, located at the Gulf of Mexico, was owned by British Petroleum. Although the explosion happened on the night of April 20, 2010, an earlier accident took place in March with the blowout preventer. It would play a significant role in building up the disaster that was to take place. The accident was considered a global catastrophe at that time as the oil rig burned for days. It took the life of 11 people and caused injuries to 17 more. The resulting oil spill took more than a few months to years before it could be removed completely.

The Alexander L. Kielland Disaster

The 80s was not a particularly good time for the oil industry, with two major drilling accidents happening just years apart. The men were enjoying their off-hours on March 27, 1980, when they heard the sound of anchor cables snapping. Nobody was aware that an accident was waiting to happen. Within minutes, the 6th cable, which was barely holding the platform, snapped, taking the lives of 123 people. As a result of this tragedy, stringent measures were put into place for lifeboat hooks and command structure.

With all these taken into account, can we continue denying how much care needs to be exerted in the oil industry? These incidents necessitate the policies and safety measures that ensure an accident-free workplace.

Villa Hope Content Team

Villa Hope Content Team

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