On April 20, 2010, at about 10:00 pm CDT, the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard were a crew of 126. Eleven were killed in the explosion and ensuing firestorm and another 15 were seriously injured. The Deepwater Horizon was in the process of drilling a well known as Macondo, and the wellhead was located more than one mile below the surface.
Two days later, still burning nearly out of control, the rig sank to the bottom of the gulf, dragging the damaged riser pipe with it and beginning the worst oil spill in the history of US maritime oil exploration.
Here is a detailed timeline of events from the night of the explosion until the Macondo well was finally declared dead. That page remains one of the most frequently visited resources on this website and has been used by researchers, bloggers and journalists regularly for the last two years.
The well was finally capped on July 15, ending the continuous flow of crude from the mile-deep wellhead. The well was formally declared dead on September 19, almost five months to the day from the explosion.
The slow motion nightmare that saw 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf included evidence of nonexistent engineering quality control, exploitation of the disaster by the Obama administration, a bungled federal disaster response, the extortion of a $20 billion fraud-ridden slush fund, crippling of major industries in the gulf and a list of comical new terms added to the dictionary, including Top Hat, Top Kill, Static Kill, Capping Stack and “A Whale.”
The spill also gave rise to an equally comical collection of conspiracy theories. Included among these were rumors that the rig was torpedoed or somehow bombed and sunk intentionally; wild theories about BP, Transocean and Halliburton looting the real well located hundreds of miles away; and an Armageddon caused by a massive explosion of methane and cracking of the earth’s crust. Perhaps the most comical of all was the yarn spun about the government and BP intentionally poisoning Gulf Coast residents by spraying them with Corexit, a soap-like chemical used to disperse the oil. In October 2010, this blog did an exposé of one organization that shamelessly sought to exploit such fears—Project Gulf Impact.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis are natural disasters. The Deepwater Horizon Spill was a man made disaster. It was caused by a horrific chain of fateful decisions leading up to the tragic explosion. AND it was exacerbated by an equally horrific series of decisions by an administration seeking to obtain maximum political and ideological advantage from the disaster. Its effects linger, as the maritime oil and gas exploration industry remains crippled, directly contributing to the economic malaise of the last two years.
The tourism and fishing industry are also still feeling the effects. To this day, tarballs created by the decomposition of the spilled crude are still washing ashore along beaches from Galveston, Texas to Apalachicola, Florida. Hundreds of fishermen, crabbers, oystermen and shrimpers have left the industry, unable to survive the closure of the hundreds of square miles of gulf waters to fishing. People are still fearful of swimming in the gulf and contributory bays and estuaries, and misperceptions about the safety of gulf seafood stubbornly persist in the minds of consumers.
Make no mistake about it. The Obama administration negligently allowed the Deepwater Horizon Spill to happen. It did so by allowing an equally negligent management and engineering team at BP and Transocean to ignore basic engineering quality control in an effort to cut costs. It made things worse by first refusing to even acknowledge the scope of the impending disaster and then by using the spill as a crowbar to gain political and ideological leverage over US energy policy.
Leftwing kooks—like the ones who founded PGI—used the spill to rail against “Big Oil” and develop wild conspiracy theories about intentional poisonings, mysterious ailments and massive coverups.
During the 2012 election, the Deepwater Horizon incident should be hung around this administration’s neck like the 300 ton blowout preventer, the device that failed and led to the explosion of the rig. George W. Bush suffered politically for Hurricane Katrina, a disaster he had no control over. Katrina’s scope was unimaginable. But the Deepwater Horizon was a disaster that could have been prevented, and incompetent leadership at the very top failed those 11 men, failed the people living and working on the gulf coast and failed the people who lost jobs throughout the country because of shameless political maneuvering and ideological arrogance.
Energy is the lifeblood of our economy. Oil and gas are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and represent a resource that this country can feasibly extract, process and use to drive economic growth and prosperity for the whole country. But the administration and its wacked out leftist supporters want you to believe that another Deepwater Horizon incident is just around the corner if we expand exploration in the gulf.
That is false. Maritime oil and gas exploration in the US was the safest in the world before the Deepwater Horizon incident and is even more so in its aftermath. What’s the likelihood of an incident like this happening in the Gulf of Mexico, vis-a-vis the chances it happening off the coast of Egypt or west Africa?
As we mark the 2nd anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Incident, lets remember why it happened, and lets remember why the guy who played golf eight times between April 20 and July 15 needs to find another job.
Obama owns the Deepwater Horizon Incident and the Gulf Oil Spill. It’s his tarball.