Investigating the Cause of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout


Critical Components in a Complex System

After the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, investigators focused on the failure of a component on the well’s blowout preventer that is supposed to close off a well spewing out of control. The device, called a blind shear ram, is the only part of the blowout preventer that can completely seal the well. Minutes after the explosion, at least one rig worker hit an emergency button, which is supposed to trigger the blind shear ram within about 30 seconds, and then disconnect the rig from the well. But that night, the blind shear ram never fully deployed.

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