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Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico

The Health and Safety Executive’s Offshore Division is monitoring the situation in the Gulf of Mexico following the fatal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010.

British regulators are in contact with their counterparts in the United States – the Minerals Management Service (MMS) – to understand the cause of the incident and whether there are implications for safety at offshore operations on the UK continental shelf.

The Deepwater Horizon was drilling in a water depth of 5000ft with the oil reservoir at 18000ft.

There are some similar deepwater wells in the UK.  A safety case regime exists with specific safeguards including:

HSE is a member of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) and two of its specialist review groups: Technical (covering Well Engineering, Operations and Control) and European Issues. OSPRAG’s safety remit is to monitor and review information from the Deep Water Horizon incident to facilitate the implementation of pertinent recommendations on the UK Continental Shelf. HSE is working alongside other members to review emerging findings and benchmark relevant aspects of well design, examination and control. Following publication of the OSPRAG Technical Review Group Interin Report, HSE has written to all offshore duty holders to ensure that the lessons from Deepwater Horizon are being fully considered by the UK industry.

HSE has formed an internal Deepwater Horizon Review Group which aims to review the findings from the investigations into the Deepwater Horizon incident and the Montara blowout: to share information which is relevant to the work of HSE; and to make recommendations as necessary with regard to the control of wells and the safety of the exploitation of offshore oil and gas in the UK. The group’s responsibilities include the following actions:


Updated 2012-12-13