Deepwater Horizon Study Group

Reports and Testimony


March 2011

"Deepwater Horizon Study Group Final Report on the Investigation of the Macondo Well Blowout" (March 1, 2011) "The DHSG analyses of the currently available evidence indicates the Macondo well blowout most probably was initiated with a breach in the well structure at its bottom—some 18,000 ft below the sea surface and approximately 13,000 ft below the seafloor. The Deepwater Horizon drill crew was in the final hours of preparing the well for later production and for temporary abandonment." Read the full report...


November/December 2010

"Deepwater Horizon Study Group Progress Report 3" (December 2010) "Based on currently available data and information, this report summarizes the major findings
and conclusions developed by the DHSG since the second progress report was issued. These
findings address 'going forward' challenges associated with the Macondo well blowout

"DHSG Letter to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling" (November 24, 2010) The Deepwater Horizon Study Group submits these comments on the Commission's preliminary technical and managerial conclusions presented on November 8 and 9, 2010. In light of these conclusions and our analyses related to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire during the past seven months, we provide specific recommendations to help ensure that future offshore drilling in "new frontier" areas will operate within acceptable levels of risks.


July 2010

"Deepwater Horizon Study Group Progress Report 2" (July 15, 2010) President Obama tasked the Graham-Reilly Commission with providing recommendations on how to prevent future spills and mitigate their impacts. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Deepwater Horizon Study Group (DHSG) has been asked to submit monthly reports of its findings to the Commission and to the public. This second progress report is a sequel to the May 24, 2010 report from UCB’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, Failures of the Deepwater Horizon Semi-Submersible Drilling Unit, and addresses both “looking back” and “looking forward” issues and recommendations to avoid future spills from deepwater offshore operations.


June 2010

Prior to the explosion were the risks to persons on board Deepwater Horizon tolerable? Analysis of Cause of Explosion on Deepwater Horizon (June 26, 2010) "Many commentators around the World talk about the cause of the explosion on Deepwater Horizon when they actually mean the cause of the Blowout and subsequent pollution.  Blowouts are thankfully rare events and some have not led to explosions making recovery efforts more likely to succeed. The fatalities and the total destruction of the installation may have been prevented if an explosion had not occurred.  So in this analysis of survivor testimony I concentrate on what the source of the ignition was.  And postulate if design and operating changes adopted after a previous Disaster in the UK had been enacted in the US offshore oil industry the explosion may not have happened." Read the report from Bill Campbell B.Sc. MIET. C.Eng...

After the Dust Settles (draft June 11, 2010) Working paper by Professor Karlene Roberts. "Technical problems are caused by people, organizations and systems of organizations operating together. This paper examines the people, organizational, and systems issues identified in a number of catastrophic accident investigations.  We suggest that since there is similarity across incidents in the kinds of issues uncovered, they should  be the first “people” issues examined in any investigation of the Gulf oil spill." Access the full paper...


May 2010

Testimony of Professor Robert Bea: Failures of the Deepwater Horizon Semi-Submersible Drilling Unit (draft May 20, 2010) "Based on currently available information (provided by approximately 50 informants) and analyses of that information (400 hours) has provided the following preliminary insights into the failures of the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Unit on and after April 20, 2010." Read the full summary...