In the deepwater oil drilling industry, much faith is placed — or perhaps misplaced — on a large device called the blowout preventer.
The chief purpose of this underwater machinery is crisis control. If a well ruptures at the bottom of the sea, the blowout preventer is supposed to choke off the leak, severing and sealing the riser if necessary.
But things didn't go according to plan last April 20, when hydrocarbons started gushing from a well being drilled by BP in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Amid fires and explosions on the Deepwater Horizon rig, the blowout preventer was triggered but the oil and gas just kept on coming.
Read the full editorial A Blowout Preventer It Wasn't on the Sarasota Herald-Tribune website.