Stuck pipe behind BP oil spill: study

Mar 23, 2011
A boy looks on as workers hired by BP clean oil off the beach in a contaminated area in Grand Isle, Louisiana, 2010. A stuck pipe was to blame for last year's worst-ever oil spill as it impeded a system in place on the BP well to prevent pollution into the Gulf of Mexico, a study said.

A stuck pipe was to blame for last year's worst-ever oil spill as it impeded a system in place on the BP well to prevent pollution into the Gulf of Mexico, a study said.

A forensic test commissioned by the the US Department of Interior and Department of Homeland Security and released this week called for engineers to take a new look at design to prevent future accidents.

The study carried out by Det Norske Veritas, a Norwegian company that maintains construction standards, pointed to problems in the shear rams -- components meant to cut drill pipes as a last resort to avoid blowouts.

The flow from the well shoved the drill pipe into other parts of BP's Macondo well, preventing movement.

"The primary cause of failure was identified as the BSRs (blind shear rams) failing to fully close and seal due to a portion of drill pipe trapped between the blocks," the study concluded.

"It is recommended the industry examine and study the potential conditions that could arise in the event of the loss of well control and the effects those conditions would have on the state of any tubulars that might be present in the wellbore," it said.

The spill was set off when the Deepwater Horizon, a rig which BP leased to drill at the Macondo well, exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers.

More than 205 million gallons of oil gushed into the , fouling US shorelines, closing rich shrimp and fishing grounds and scaring off tourists.

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User comments : 3

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1 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2011
If I've understood this correctly, the rams would not fully close because the oil was flowing so fast it pushed debris into the machinery-- Back to the drawing board for *every* such shut-off ??
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2011
No, I don't think that's it.

There was an extra, unconnected section of drill pipe
that was present between the jaws of the shear ram, in addition
the drill string that was actually supposed to be there. The
doubled strength of the two pipes was enough to prevent the
rams from doing their job.
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
Dang it, dawdled too long. I had to actually read portions
of the report, and it was turgid and tedious.

You can read it for yourself, at

.. starting at page 173. It's tough going, but the drill pipe
itself was pushed to one side, and instead of being entirely
between the cutting portion of the BSRs, a portion of it was
instead between the blocks that the cutting surfaces were
on. This portion outside of the cutting/shearing region was
crushed instead of sheared, and prevented the shears from
being fully actuated.

There's an illuminating illustration on page 156 of the linked
report, and diagram of the likely alignment on page 152.

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