Lessons of the BP accident for improving offshore drilling safety around the world

By Najmedin Meshkati

As the second anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore platform accident approaches on April 20, the sky rocketing gasoline prices at the pumps have fueled calls of “drill, baby, drill” to increase domestic oil production. The prospect of extensive deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic waters, and elsewhere is now stronger than ever.

Exploiting deepwater offshore oil and gas fields is the future of the fossil fuel industry around the world. According to a recent statement by the head of the International Energy Agency of the OECD, about 30 percent of the world’s oil production presently comes from offshore projects and it will increase to about 50 percent in 2015.

In addition to the growing deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (by the United States, Mexico and Cuba) and possibly the Atlantic Ocean (from Delaware Bay to Cape Canaveral, Fla.), it is expected to grow substantially in the Mediterranean, Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, North Slope of Alaska, as well as off the coasts of China, India, Brazil and Angola. For instance, seven of the 10 largest hydrocarbon fields discovered in the past decade in the world are in deepwater off the coast of Brazil.
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