Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion off Louisiana Coast

Transocean Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion

*** UPDATE 07-21-2011 ***

“In an unusual show of bipartisanship, nine Gulf Coast senators joined forces Thursday to introduce a bill that would require at least 80 percent of penalties from last year’s BP oil spill paid under the Clean Water Act to be directed to restoration projects in the five Gulf states: Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Texas.”

McLatchy : Gulf Coast Senators want BP fines to Restore Coastline

*** UPDATE 12-15-2010 ***

“…the full lawsuit against BP and various other defendants which ‘seeks in this action a declaration that the Defendants are responsible and strictly liable for unlimited removal costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.'”

– Zero Hedge : Article/Full Lawsuit File by US Against BP Et Al

*** UPDATE 09-16-2010 ***

“Indeed, workers are just doing cosmetic clean-ups. They are pressure washing rocks with hot water so they look clean, just as they did with the Exxon Valdez spill. And the government’s targets for “cleaning up” beaches is very lax…”

– Zero Hedge : What’s Going On In The Gulf?

*** UPDATE 08-20-2010 ***

“People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.

– NyTimes : BP Oil Spill Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants

BPs Lawyer, John P. Hickey’s letter to Selig, stating that BP believes that Transocean should be held responsible(not BP) for the injuries and the deaths of employees caused by the rig explosion.

Read the Letter Here

*** UPDATE 06-16-2010 ***

“BP chief executive Tony Hayward came under intense fire at a House hearing on Thursday for paying little attention to risks being run at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig before it exploded and caught fire on April 20.”

– Offshore Injuries Blog : An Emotionless Tony Hayward Testifies Before Congress (VIDEO)

*** UPDATE 06-16-2010 ***

“President Barack Obama says BP has agreed to establish a $100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers affected by a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed in the wake of the Gulf oil spill. ”

– The Guardian : Obama says BP creating $100 M fund for oil workers.

“Lost in the catastrophic aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the gripping tale of the rig workers and the Coast Guard crewmen who rescued them. Sean Flynn re-creates their long, harrowing, heart-pounding night…”

 Read this amazing story from GQ

*** UPDATE 06-15-2010 ***

Blog Update: Marshall Islands Mainly Responsible for Safety Inspections of Deepwater Horizon

*** UPDATE 06-14-2010 ***

LA Times reports that offshore oil rigs like the Deepwater Horizon are treated as “ships” under International law. This allows them to be “registered” out of the United states which reduces the United State’s role in inspecting and enforcing the safety of these rigs.

– LA Times : Foreign flagging of offshore rigs skirts U.S. safety rules

*** UPDATE 06-13-2010 ***

“Hoping to make progress on the issue of retroactive liability for the oil spill, The White House is set to demand that executives at BP set up an account from which they will pay out claims to those affected by the spill.”

– The Huffington Post : Obama To Demand BP Create Liability Account For Spill Claims

*** UPDATE 06-12-2010 ***

Zero Hedge : BP Official Admits to Damage BENEATH THE SEA FLOOR

*** UPDATE 06-11-2010 ***

“the more than 1.1 million gallons of dispersant that BP has applied to the leaking oil has simply spread it around, making it harder to see and collect (and assess damages for) — but has not made it any less harmful to the environment.”

The Huffington Post : Gulf Oil Spill: BP’s Poor Record So Far Dulls Hope For Future

TPMmuckraker : Transocean Stonewalls Congress On ‘I’m Not Hurt’ Forms Signed By Rig Workers

*** UPDATE 06-09-2010 ***

“BP PLC’s 582-page regional spill plan for the Gulf, and its 52-page, site-specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig are riddled with omissions and glaring errors, according to an Associated Press analysis that details how BP officials have pretty much been making it up as they go along.”

The Huffington Post : BP’s Approved Spill Plan ‘Riddled With Omissions And Glaring Errors’

*** UPDATE 06-08-2010 ***

A crucial Interview with Steve Gordon about the responsibility of the catastrophe on April 20th.

“There’s a crime scene sitting 5,000 feet below the water…”

More Videos from CNN

*** UPDATE 06-07-2010 ***

Anderson Cooper 360, CNN: Interview with Oil Rig Survivors- telling their story of what happened the night of the explosion.

*** UPDATE 05-31-2010 ***

From the Associated Press: US senator calls for repeal of law limiting liability of company that
owned sunken oil rig.

*** UPDATE 05-29-2010 ***

An update about the joint hearing from Oil spill hearings: Rig had no power to fight fire after engines oversped

*** UPDATE 05-27-2010 ***

The House Judiciary Committee hearing focused on liability issues related to the event.

Steve Gordon’s Written Material introduced into the record at 01:43:12

View the pdf here

A few days before the explosion, BP officials used a type of casting for the oil well that the company knew was the riskier of two options. They chose this method mostly for financial reasons. This was covered in a previous article by the New York Times.

*** UPDATE 05-26-2010 ***

The HuffingtonPost: BP Has Paid $29 Million In Economic Loss Claims, But Doesn’t Want A Judge To Oversee The Process<u*** UPDATE 05-18-2010 ***

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, is trying to only pay a fraction of their own insurance pay out.

Read the article here.

*** UPDATE 05-17-2010 ***

See a visual timeline of the oil spill on

Animation: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Growth and Movement

*** UPDATE 05-16-2010 ***

Transocean denies forcing workers to sign waivers.

*** UPDATE 05-14-2010 ***

Transocean, the company whose oil rig exploded in the Gulf is trying to cap their legal costs at 27 million. Listen to NPRs audio update.

*** UPDATE 05-13-2010 ***

TransOcean is attempting to limit its liability by using a law from the 1800’s that limits the liability for a loss at sea to the value of the vessel. This law, while historically valuable in permitting shipping companies to stay in business after a disaster, is clearly outdated when the loss includes the potential to damage the environment catastrophically.

NPR has an update and interview as well.

Read PDFs below:

Notice of Complaint

Ad Interim Stipulation

Affidavit Pending Freight

Affidavit Value


Complaint Exhibit A


Order Directing Claimants

Order App Ad Interim Stip

*** UPDATE 05-12-2010 ***

Bruce Braley, an Iowa Dem, went after the Transocean CEO on the release forms. Talking Points Memo has a clip here of the questioning.

*** UPDATE 05-11-2010 ***

Watch CNN’s Interview with explosion survivor Chris Choy and lawyer Steve Gordon. Chris Choy shares a detailed retelling of the incident.

*** UPDATE 05-10-2010 ***

An NPR article and audio interview with rig explosion survivor, Christopher Choy and lawyer, Steve Gordon. Christopher Choy feels that he was coerced into signing waivers abrogating the oil rig company, Deepwater from compensating survivors like himself.

*** UPDATE 05-09-2010 ***

More international coverage of the Deepwater explosion, see German News Article.

*** UPDATE 05-07-2010 ***

The DeepWater Horizon disaster is receiving international coverage.

* NEWS * 05-05-2010

The Early Show- with a breaking news story about the oil rig explosion.

*** UPDATE 05-05-2010 ***

British Petroleum, BP, the entity that owns the leased land that the Deepwater Horizon was drilling over when it exploded, fought the United States government tooth and nail over whether there should be 3 or 4 back-up systems to actuate and close the blow out preventer. BP prevailed with the blessings of the Bush – Chaney oil advocates and it was only required to have triple redundancy. This is quite different than in Europe. BP spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident.

One area of immediate concern, industry experts said, was the lack of a remote system that would have allowed workers to clamp shut Deepwater Horizon’s wellhead so it would not continue to gush oil. The rig is now spilling 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter sent last year to the DOI/MMS, BP objected to what it called “extensive, prescriptive regulations” proposed in new rules to toughen safety standards. “We believe industry’s current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs…continue to be very successful.”

Read Letter to MMS


Additionally, in March 3, 2000, BP, Transocean and other drillers were specifically warned about BOPs and they were told about two near disasters that would have also resulted in the environmental damage that is being caused in this event.

Read MMS Safety Alert #186

**UPDATE 5-04-10**

Funeral service was held for Karl Kleppinger, a 38 yr old worker who was killed in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion along with 10 other workers. Read Article Here.

**UPDATE 04-29-10**

Listen to WRS’s interview with Steve Gordon as part of a broadcast about the Transocean lawsuits.

On April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, an explosion occurred on the Transocean semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, when personnel from the drilling rig reported a fire.

The Deepwater Horizon was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea in 2001. The rig was designed for operations in water depths of up to 8,000 feet with a maximum drill depth of 30,000 feet. It was able to accommodate up to 130 people, but at the time of the incident, there was a crew of 126 people.

The semi-submersible drilling rig was owned by Transocean Ltd and was under lease to British Petroleum (BP) through September 2013. At the time of the fire drilling rig was on BP’s Mississippi Canyon Block 252, in the U.S. sector of the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Fire

The fire reportedly started at about 10:00 p.m. CST. At that time, the drilling rig was located about 41 miles south of the Louisiana coast. After the explosion, 115 people were recovered out of the 126 crew, Eleven still remain missing.

Seventy-nine of the 126 workers were Transocean employees, six were from BP and forty-one were contracted. All 6 BP employees were safe according to BP spokesperson, Darren Beaudo.

Seventeen out of the 115 that were recovered required medical treatment and were transported and hospitalized. Seven were critically injured. Six of them were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center, four were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans, and two were airlifted to a trauma center in Mobile, Alabama. Most of them were released after treatment.

According to initial reports, between 12 to 15 crew were missing, but as of April 22, officials stated that the number of workers that were still missing was 11. They stated that due to the sudden explosion they could have been near the blast and not been able to escape. Many of the oil rig’s crew who were able to escape were brought onshore on a workboat. According to spokesperson from Transocean Ltd, the oil rig was drilling but was not in production at the time of the explosion.

The incident was described by survivors as a sudden explosion. After the alarm went off, they had less than five minutes to escape. Most of the survivors were able to escape in lifeboats that were powered by diesel engines. BP had hired a supply boat to pick up the survivors and they traveled almost 45 minutes before reaching it.

After the incident, the surviving crew were brought to Port Fourchon, Louisiana to go through a medical check-up and to be reunited with their families.

Rescue Operations by the U.S. Coast Guard

A massive rescue operation has been launched by the U.S. Coast Guard. Four helicopters, 4 Coast Guard boats and 1 plane are being used for rescue operations. Two Coast Guard cutters continued to search throughout the night. The area of the search has been described as the “size of the state of Delaware.” Since the beginning of rescue operations the Coast Guard has carried out 17 separate air and sea search missions and has searched almost 1,940 miles.

None of the 11 missing crew have been found and remain missing to this date.

On April 22, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Investigation into the Incident

An investigation into the possible causes of the explosion has been launched by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service. At the time of accident, production casing was being run and cemented. It was due to be tested for integrity after the cementing was done, and a cement plug was to be set. The well was then supposed to be abandoned for later completion as a subsea producer.

According to a statement by Transocean executive, Adrian Rose, abnormal pressure had undoubtedly accumulated inside the marine riser and as it came up it “expanded rapidly and ignited.”

Potential oil spills are likely to occur during drilling rig explosions so environmental protection teams were on standby in Morgan City, Louisiana to assess possible environmental damage as soon as the fire is put out.

According to Mineral Management Service officials, there have been 39 fires or explosions offshore in the Gulf of Mexico in the first five months of 2009.

* UPDATE to Cause and Investigation *


Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Karl Kleppinger, Jr,. one of the 11 missing men. Read lawsuit.

NOLA – Missing Gulf Oil Rig Workers Article

Excerpt from the article:

“Steve Gordon, a Houston attorney who is representing Tracy Kleppinger, the wife of worker Karl Kleppinger Jr. of Natchez, Miss., said his client was told by rig owner Transocean Ltd. that Kleppinger is considered deceased. Gordon said the company has sent grievers to be with Tracy Kleppinger.

In response, the law firm Gordon, Elias and Seely filed a wrongful death lawsuit this afternoon in Harris County, Texas, against Transocean and BP, which leased the rig.”

CHRON – A Second Transocean Rig Accident Suit Filed

Excerpt from the article:

“Right now we’re trying to find anybody who has any information, anybody who might have seen him and what happened,” said R. Todd Elias, the family’s attorney. “The family would like to have some information about what happened to him, and so far Transocean isn’t telling us anything. They just tell us they don’t know.”

Other Articles of Interest