The Ocean Ranger Oil Disaster

The Ocean Ranger Oil Disaster
The Ocean Ranger was an offshore exploration oil drilling platform that sank in Canadian waters 315 kilometres southeast from St. John?s Newfoundland, on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland on February 15, 1982, with 84 crewmembers onboard. The Ocean Ranger was the largest semi-submersible, offshore exploration, oil drilling platform of the day. Built in 1976 by Japan?s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, it operated off the coasts of Alaska, New Jersey, Ireland, and in November 1980 moved to the Grand Banks. Since it was so big it was considered to have the ability to drill in areas too dangerous for other rigs. The government thought it was unsinkable, so they felt that there was no need to train a crew very well.
The disaster that took place on the Ocean Ranger had a very large effect on the way Newfoundlander?s feel about the gas and oil industry. The government examined the safety issues that led to this disaster and has implemented numerous changes to enhance the safety of the offshore workforce. The Newfoundland and Canadian government set up a combined royal commission to investigate the disaster of the Ocean Ranger and to provide recommendations to improve safety. Two years after the disaster, the royal commission on the Ocean Ranger disaster concluded that the deaths resulted not only from the storm and flaws in the rig?s design, but also from a lack of human knowledge.
Experts say the many deaths could have been prevented with better safety training and better safety precautions. Since then new and old rules have been enforced. During the late 1980?s the federal and provincial governments installed boards to regulate offshore oil and gas. These boards required anyone visiting the rigs to have minimum safety training. Over the past twenty years, survival systems have improved greatly in off shore drilling. Some of the new technologies that were introduced are cold-water survival suits and improved methods of lifeboat deployment. For more safety, training requirements for offshore workers have greatly increased and new facilities have been established to make sure that the workers have the safety skills to avoid another disaster like the Ocean Ranger. Weather buoys were placed in certain areas throughout the waters in Atlantic Canada to give weather information to forecasters and mariners.
The oil companies were held responsible because they did not train their workers for emergency procedures and did not do any emergency drills. The Ocean Ranger could have survived the storm and flooding if the crewmembers had understood how the ballast system worked. The two men working in the ballast room had never been tested for what they had learned. The senior operator had only reached the halfway point in his training, but he was promoted. The Ocean Ranger did not have enough safety equipment on board for the amount of passengers they had. Families of lost crewmembers sued the companies that owned and operated the Ocean Ranger. The companies were forced to pay millions in lawsuits.
Oil companies lost a lot of money because of all the lawsuits, but Canada and other countries that used the Ocean Ranger, lost one of their sources of oil, which may have been a very good producer for them. Japan especially lost money because they invested the money into building this structure.
The first problem that led to the sinking of the Ocean Ranger was what happened when they had been hit by a huge wave. They attempted to separate the main drilling platform from the rest of the rig if they could retrieve the drill string. The drill string in an oil rig is the column, or string, of drill pipe with attached tool joints that transmits fluid and rotational power from the top drive to the drill collars and bit. This has only been done only twice before. They did not succeed.
Then the next problem was the hole in the ballast control room port, due to another large wave crashing into the rig. The port hole was only 30 feet above the water line and did not have its steel storm plate installed. Water rushed in, soaking the control panel and shorting out its analogue relays, causing the rig to list to about 10 degrees. The crew removed the relays, rinsed them in clean water to get the salt out, and dried them with a hairdryer. The control panel was still wet, after they inserted the relays, and shorted out again.
The crew then tried to manually start the pumps to fix the rig, but this made things worse. There were no manuals on board explaining the ballast control system so they did what they felt was right. Instead of emptying the ballast tank on the side where the rig was listing, they pumped in more water, to try and start the pumps working but, this just increased the list to about 15 degrees. If the crew had used the knowledge of hydraulics pumps they would have realized that it would not be possible to to get rid of a leak by pumping in more liguid. Doing so would cause a large overflow destroying the pump.
In the future, to avoid a problem like this engineers could have a back up system that would be able to pump out the liguid, one that could use the water as a power source. The engineers could try to make the walls near the water line stronger to prevent flooding. There also should have been a way to detach the drill string that would be more convenient
for the workers. All the blame is not due to poor design and construction flaws, but to the oil companies for not teaching the employees about the system. This disaster could have been prevented if the engineers and oil companies were not blinded by their ignorant beliefs that the Ocean Ranger was unsinkable.

The Ocean Ranger Oil Disaster 6.8 of 10 on the basis of 1502 Review.