Movie Review: Deep Water Horizon

Most jobs people have are not the kind of jobs where if you screw up or are incompetent or just have a bad day that someone will die. What happens in cases like this is that the one bad day is forgotten or the mistake you made is bad enough to get you fired. If you’re a manager over other people, the mistake you make can not only screw up your job but the jobs of several others you are supervising. If you’re the CEO of a company like Enron, all the companies involved in the financial crisis and most recently Wells Fargo, your mistakes can bring down the whole company, or cause huge fines and your options are to resign yourself, wait to be fired and of course as all CEO’s in situations like these, deny you knew that anything illegal or stupid was going on to cause the crisis. Even in extreme cases like this, with huge responsibility and ramifications, nobody really dies. This is not true if you’re a doctor and in certain situations a nurse where if you make a mistake someone can die; for jobs like these there is no room for error. When human lives are on the line there has to be a higher standard, a higher level of responsibility, of safety and redundancy because if a mistake is made then people can die, and sometimes many of them.

On April 20, 2010, the worst oil spill in the history of the Petroleum Industry happened in the Gulf of Mexico on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig. We find out at the start of this movie, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson, that the crew on board the Deep Water Horizon was the crew responsible for the exploration for oil and not the actual extraction of oil, a task that would be taken care of by the crew that followed them.

As the movie starts, a crew from another oil company is dismissed by BP (British Petroleum) executives before they had a chance to check the cement surrounding the underlying pipe of the oil rig and the reason for this was to save money, approximately $125,000. Considering the enormous market capitalization of British Petroleum, 186 Billion in 2010, and the 126 lives at stake, this was the first major mistake the company made to save on the bottom line. We later find out that the oil rig had numerous problems with parts and equipment and once again because of the bottom line, very little of these problems were ever fixed, making the oil rig even more dangerous to the 126 people who were working on it. Most alarming were the two water and oil pressure tests that were ran right before the explosion due to the concerns of the two engineers played by Russell and Wahlberg. Despite the findings that one of the major pipes from the ocean floor, 5000 feet below to the rig was having major pressure problems, the rig was still declared usable to by the BP Executive on board the rig, played very well by John Malcovich. The BP executive looked for a reason to not believe the test by running a new test on a kill line. This one horrible decision is the main reason why 11 people were killed and billions of dollars of damage to the ecology and economy of the area then happened. Once again, as has happened so many times with companies forgetting that the lives and safety of their workers should be their number one concern, people died.

As far as the movie, there is not much of an involved story here, just some up front stories of the personal lives of some of the men who were lucky to survive this oil spill and the main part of this includes Kate Hudson who plays Wahlberg’s wife. What follows just demonstrated the incompetence and bad decisions of some of the executives responsible for this very preventable accident.

When you see the amazing technology and complexity of oil rigs like the Deep Water Horizon in this film, anyone would have to believe that there could be 1000 things that can go wrong. Considering this accident in 2010, the world is very lucky that there have not been many more accidents like this one or even worse over the many years since ocean oil exploration began. The statistics of the losses caused by this oil rig tragedy in 2010 are staggering. The spill took 87 days to stop. 11 people on board the rig when it exploded died and were never found. This was the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, an estimated 8% to 31% larger in volume than the previously largest, the Ixtoc I oil spill. According to the satellite images, the spill directly impacted 68,000 square miles of ocean; which is comparable to the size of Oklahoma. By early June 2010, oil had washed up on 125 miles of Louisiana’s coast and along the Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama coastlines. Oil sludge appeared in the Intracoastal Waterway and on Pensacola Beach and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In October, weathered oil reached Texas. As of July 2011, about 491 miles of coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were contaminated by oil and a total of 1,074 miles had been oiled since the spill began. The cleanup cost BP 14 billion dollars. Some estimates are that the penalties and fines BP had to pay are as high as 90 billion dollars and another 6.2 billion from lawsuits. Considering all of this, it is hard to believe that BP still even exists.

Overall, I thought this movie was very well made with outstanding special effects and I do recommend it.

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