Engineering Services, LP
May 2014
By Gordon Aaker, Jr

Deepwater Horizon Tragedy.GREAT NEWS! It was recently announced that The ROOT CAUSE FAILURE ANALYSIS INVESTIGATION of the Deepwater Horizon Tragedy that Engineering Services, LP (ES) provided to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee through the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), will formally be released in Houston at a public meeting on June 5, 2014, according to CSB Chairman Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso.

http://www.csb.gov/statement-by-csb-chairperson-rafael-moure-eraso-on-fourth-anniversary-of-deepwater-horizon-tragedy-in-gulf-of-mexico-csb-investigation-reports-to-be-released-at-june-5th-public-meeting-in-houston-texas/

The tragedy occurred on April 20, 2010, when the blowout of the Macondo well resulted in an explosion and uncontrollable fire onboard the Deepwater Horizon. Eleven people lost their lives, 17 were seriously injured, and 115 of the 126 onboard evacuated. The Deepwater Horizon sank 36 hours later, and the Macondo well discharged hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before it was contained.

There will be two (2) technical reports.  One report dealing with the mechanics of the BOP and the other with the control systems.

I would like to emphasize several very important points, regarding this pending release of these reports.

  • The personnel at the CSB are one of the most dedicated group of professionals that I have ever had the pleasure to work with.  Their personal commitment was beyond anything that I have ever experienced. The strategic alliance between CSB and  ES  (Government and Industry) was a success due to the synergies between the two entities. Engineering Services group of Engineering Experts and the CSB investigation team exhibited the motivation to get it right, leaving "no stone unturned".
  • Although these reports represent "another" report on the tragedy, it is important to appreciate that these reports are unbiased, totally devoid of influence by attorneys or companies with vested interests.  These reports were prepared by consultants to ES, retired and semi-retired from major oil companies, executives and leading industrial consultants, primarily from right here in Houston, who are dedicated to the future success and safety of the oil and gas industry.  They made their time available because it was important to the industry that has been good to all of us.
  • The reports outline several equipment and procedural failures that occurred that have not previously been identified in prior published incident reports.  While we agree with many of the findings, we note important differences, with several new opinions on technical and operational aspects not previously reported.
  • Untimely as it may appear, we were significantly handicapped in our investigation beginning with being excluded from the second phase of testing.  Apparently, we slowed the testing down during the first phase of testing by making specific requests (no stone unturned) such that we were deliberately excluded from commenting on testing procedures when we were not present to argue otherwise.  This resulted in a lot of  additional time being consumed reviewing documents generated from testing procedures by other investigator entities after the fact.  Also, we requested additional documents from Transocean which required the CSB to expend nearly an additional year in court to secure the documents (discovery).  In Statement issued July 2013, CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso "Applauds Appeals Court Ruling Requiring Transocean to Turn Over Subpoenaed Documents in Agency Investigation of Macondo Accident in Gulf of Mexico".

http://www.csb.gov/in-statement-csb-chairperson-rafael-moure-eraso-applauds-appeals-court-ruling-requiring-transocean-to-turn-over-subpoenaed-documents-in-agency-investigation-of-macondo-accident-in-gulf-of-mexico/

Therefore, four (4) years to present this extensive report is not as long as one might think.

Finally, you might be surprised to know how much help we received from industry.  We would like to acknowledge on at least one occasion, we needed a pricey component to complete some testing independent of the previous testing program, and a drilling company made arrangements to provide it to us because in their opinion "It was the right thing to do".   I think they were sending us a message to be sure and not have any excuses to leave "no stone unturned," because it was important to them and everyone else in the business.

The CSB will post the reports on their Web Site at: (http://www.csb.gov/)

 Questions? Contact Gordon Aaker @ 832-418-9180

The CSB (
http://www.csb.gov/) is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial accidents involving the release of chemicals (including natural gas and oil). Its board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The CSB and ES are not involved or will not become involved in litigation matters of the incident. We are strictly dedicated to identifying the exact nature of the failure and providing valuable safety LESSONS LEARNED that can be used in recommendations to industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies to prevent future accidents.

Regards,   
Gordon A. Aaker, Jr., P.E.
Failure Analysis Consultant