What happened at the Deepwater Horizon rig is a tragedy on many levels – from the terrible loss of life involved, to the ongoing impact of the spill on the environment, communities and businesses of the Gulf Coast. Everyone at ExxonMobil shares in the concern over the accident and spill, and we have contributed personnel and equipment to help with the response.
The Presidential Commission’s investigation and others underway will help us determine what happened and what needs to be done going forward. This devastating chain of events is far from the industry norm. We all need to understand what occurred on this occasion that did not occur at the 14,000 other deepwater wells that have been successfully drilled around the world.
ExxonMobil and others have, over the course of many years, developed and implemented procedures and equipment that have proved very effective in safely managing our offshore wells. What we do know is that when you properly design wells for the range of risk anticipated; follow established procedures; build in layers of redundancy; properly inspect and maintain equipment; train operators; conduct tests and drills; and focus on safe operations and risk management, tragic incidents like the one in the Gulf of Mexico today should not occur.
We need to understand the events that led to this unprecedented accident, and take corresponding steps to further reduce the likelihood of a similar event ever occurring again. An expert and thorough approach to understanding what happened is crucial because this incident represents a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling.
Offshore and deepwater resources are essential to U.S. energy security. Here are some reasons why:
- Gulf of Mexico deepwater activity accounts for about 24 percent of U.S. oil production.
- Overall, oil and gas activities in the Gulf account for about 170,000 direct and indirect jobs.
- Last year, the oil the United States produced from the Gulf was more than the oil it imported from any single country except for Canada.
- Within five years, global deepwater production is expected to rise to 10 million barrels per day — the amount of crude and liquids that Saudi Arabia produces every day.
Energy consumers around the world need the oil and natural gas resources found in offshore and deepwater regions, but they expect it to be done safely and in an environmentally sensitive way.