Observation 3.1: In the confusion of an emergency such as the one on the Deepwater Horizon, it is not surprising that a drill crew would not take the time to determine whether a tool joint was located in the plane of the BSR or whether tension was properly maintained in the drill pipe.

Observation 3.2: In terms of emergency procedures, such as an emergency disconnect or autoshear function of the BOP system on its own, there is no ability to manipulate the tool joint position or the level of tension or compression in the drill pipe. The BSR was not designed to work for the full range of conditions that could be realistically anticipated in an emergency.


Summary Recommendation 3.1: BOP systems should be redesigned to provide robust and reliable cutting, sealing, and separation capabilities for the drilling environment to which they are being applied and under all foreseeable operating conditions of the rig on which they are installed. Test and maintenance procedures should be established to ensure operability and reliability appropriate to their environment of application. Furthermore, advances in BOP technology should be evaluated from the perspective of overall system safety. Operator training for emergency BOP operation should be improved to the point that the full capabilities of a more reliable BOP can be competently and correctly employed when needed in the future.

Recommendation 3.2: The design capabilities of the BOP system should be improved so that the system can shear and seal all combinations of pipe under all possible conditions of load from the pipe and from the well flow, including entrained formation rock and cement, with or without human intervention. Such a system should be designed to go into the “well closed” position in the event of a system failure. This does not mean that the BOP must be capable of shearing every drill pipe at every point. It does mean that the BOP design should be such that for any drill string being used in a particular well, there will always be a shearable section of the drill pipe in front of some BSR in the BOP.

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