Deepwater Horizon: Why Corporate Greed, Ineptitude and Shortcuts are Hazardous to Your Health. Shoddy cement job, failed equipment and erupting methane gas, what could go wrong? (Image credit Summit Entertainment)
Deepwater Horizon is about as accurate a film as you can get when it’s based on real-life events, certainly so when the impact of those events are still being felt today. Obviously, there are spoilers ahead, but unless you were asleep in 2010, then you know how the film plays out.
At any rate, the movie stars Mark Wahlberg (as Chief Electronics Tech Mike Williams) and Kurt Russell (as Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell) and focuses on the events that lead to the Deepwater Horizon’s disaster that cost the lives of 11 workers and decimated a good chunk of the Gulf of Mexico.
A drilling engineer notices drilling mud backflow during the negative pressure test, signaling the beginning of a blowout. (Image credit Summit Entertainment)
Right from the get-go, Wahlberg and Russell (who work for Transocean, the company responsible for the rig) are surprised that BP is sending the workers responsible for cementing the oil well (to keep it stable) home early reportedly because their job was finished and everything ‘looks good,’ but in actuality it wasn’t- mistake number one. The workers were supposed to perform what’s known as a ‘negative pressure test,' a process to determine the stability and strength of the cement.
Russell eventually manages to convince BP manager Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) to run the test, which only serves to weaken the shoddy cement job- mistake number two. Without waiting for the test results, Vidrine orders the well to be ‘flowed, ’ and as a result, the cement fails and produces a blowout that kills several workers- mistake number three.
That blowout also releases methane that’s piped up to the rig and ignites from the diesel engines used to keep the semi-submersible rig in place. The resulting methane explosion kills several more workers and engulfs most of the rig in flames, not to mention Russell’s relaxing shower. Both Wahlberg and bloody Russell race to get to the operations center/bridge to get the well under control before evacuating to safety.
Diagram detailing a BOP, bear in mind the one equipped on the Deepwater Horizon’s well-head is 57-feet tall. (Image credit Christian Scholz)
It’s important to note that a device, known as a BOP (BlowOut Preventer) that sat on top of the cement casing of the well had failed to contain the initial blowout due to faulty valves that were supposed to close automatically in case of failure. The BOP also sports what are called ‘blind-shear rams’ that physically cut the pipe to the well and locks it down to prevent oil/gas leakage and allows the rig to maneuver away from the danger area. Those failed too, most likely due to an off-center drill pipe stuck in the well itself- mistake numbers four and five.
This is the result of what happens when corners are cut, equipment is faulty, and job requirements go out the window. (Image credit Summit Entertainment)
As you could imagine, Russell couldn’t get the well capped due to the faulty equipment, so he directs those left in the ops center to evacuate on the rig’s lifeboats, which are already jam-packed to the gills with ‘let’s get the hell outta here now.’ As the workers leave, Wahlberg and Dynamic Positioning Operator Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) make a mad dash to the remaining lifeboat, which falls into the ocean just as they get to it and are forced to jump from the rig. Luckily, for all involved, the vessel Damon B. Bankston was moored to the Horizon as a supply ship and helped rescue all the survivors.
The movie for the most part accurately portrayed the events of what actually happened, however the real Horizon accident displayed a level of ineptitude that stunned me- six operations, testing and equipment failures in a 32-hour period were responsible for the disaster. As a result, 4.9-million barrels of crude was released into the Gulf of Mexico, damaging the ecosystem and creating health issues for those living on the coastlines, which still continues to this day.
The movie representation was well done, the cinematography alone is worth the watch, but the acting was good as well, making for a great watch. I’m going to give Deepwater Horizon 4.01 out of 5.00 stars, watch it; you won’t be disappointed.