Deepwater Horizon


  • Josh Winsor Memorial University of Newfoundland


Coastal Engineering, 8751


The Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010 was the largest oil spill in U.S history. The tragedy claimed the lives of 11 offshore workers and caused an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil to leak into the ocean. To do this day the Gulf of Mexico coastline and ocean environment is extensively effected from this accident. The Deepwater Horizon was a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) operating off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel was drilling on the Macondo well one morning when a series of events transpired in a relatively short period of time which led to the accident. The vessel encountered a well blowout followed by an explosion on the drill deck. The emergency disconnect system failed leaving the vessel attached to the well, releasing copious amounts of gas and hydrocarbons. After two days of unsuccessful firefighting attempts the rig finally lost stability and became submerged in the ocean. It took 87 days for the well to be successfully capped which had displaced an astonishing amount of hydrocarbons into the ocean environment This accident became the largest oil spill in U.S history and caused severe damage to the Gulf of Mexico environment. Following this event the President of the United States put an indefinite ban on deepwater oil exploration drilling which was lifted six months later. This tragedy has been investigated by many parties and has been the main causation to many revisions to design codes, regulations, and an overall perspective on the safety culture for the offshore oil industry. The following paper will highlight the description of the accident, the environmental & economical impacts from the accident, the risk control & regulation changes for future offshore projects, recommendations and the progress of clean up operations along the Gulf of Mexico coastline.

Author Biography

Josh Winsor, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering Term 8 Student


United States Coast Guard, “Report of Investigation into the Circumstances Surrounding the Explosion, Fire, Sinking and Loss of Eleven Crew Members Aboard The Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon”, 2010

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BP, “Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report”, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Study Group “Final Report on the Investigation of the Macondo Well Blowout”, 2011

Herbst, M, “BP fund has paid out $5 billion to Gulf spill victims”. From:, 2011, “Deepwater Horizon – the Offshore Game Changer” From:, 2010

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, “Deepwater, The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President”, 2011

The Economist, “The Deepwater Horizon Report, Blame and Shame” From:, 2011

Wearden, G,“BP oil spill costs to hit $40bn”, The Guardian, 2010






Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)