Subsea Responses to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Choi, Han-Suk; Lee, Seung-Keon; Do, Chang-Ho;
On April 20, 2010, a well control event allowed hydrocarbon (oil and gas) to escape from the Macondo well onto Deepwater Horizon (DWH), resulting in an exploration and fire on the rig. While 17 people were injured, 11 others lost their lives. The fire continued for 36 hours until the rig sank. Hydrocarbons continued to flow out from the reservoir through the well bore and blowout preventer (BOP) for 87 days, causing an unprecedented oil spill. Beyond Petroleum (BP) and the US federal government tried various methods to prevent the oil spill and to capture the spilled oil. The corresponding responses were very challenging due to the scale, intensity, and duration of the incident that occurred under extreme conditions in terms of pressure, temperature, and amount of flow. On July 15, a capping stack, which is another BOP on top of the existing BOP, was successfully installed, and the oil spill was stopped. After several tests and subsea responses, the well was permanently sealed by a relief well and a bottom kill on September 19. This paper analyzes the subsea responses and engineering efforts to capture the oil, stop the leaking, and kill the subsea well. During the investigation and analysis of subsea responses, information was collected and data bases were established for future accident prevention and the development of subsea engineering.