The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Movie Review:
Deepwater Horizon

Oct 31, 2016

Many people may well remember the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when a blowout in an oil well under the Deepwater Horizon rig created one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the U.S. But few remember or even knew the other part of the story – the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon. The new movie, Deepwater Horizon, focuses on it.

The blowout – which was caused by BP’s well design and Halliburton’s cement work – started the problem on the Horizon. But problems on the Horizon finished it.

Every one of the Horizon’s defenses failed on April 20, 2010. Some were deployed but did not work. Some were activated too late. Some were never deployed at all. The crew was never trained for such a situation.

One emergency system alone was controlled by 30 buttons. The handbook often gave conflicting ways to respond, warning crew members not to “overreact.”

How do you know it’s bad enough to react fast? Most of the more than 100 crew members had no clue what was happening. They were off duty and caught off guard when fire, explosions and the power outage occurred.

One of the main things the movie focuses on is a negative pressure test on the well that was performed under the direction of a BP executive. In order to see if the well was leaking hydrocarbons (oil and gas), the drill shack crew removed heavy mud from the well and replaced it with lighter seawater. Then they shut in the well to see if pressure built up inside. If it did, then there was a leak.

There was disagreement over the test results. But the BP executive insisted everything was fine and that the crew should continue.

But drilling quickly adds risk. Despite all the high tech wizardry on the Horizon, it was tangling with powerful unpredictable geological forces. And pushing rapidly into a highly pressurized, three-mile-deep reservoir of oil and gas can be particularly hazardous in the Gulf of Mexico’s unstable and porous formations.

Sure enough, the well blew out. Later investigations show the well failed the test. In fact, BP and its execs failed the test.

In the end, after the Horizon’s many defenses failed, many lives were saved by simple acts of bravery – men and women helped one another to survive.

Deepwater Horizon takes the side of the workers against BP’s greed and drive for profit at all costs.