Ugh, back to the ongoing Montara / West Atlas oil spill. Looks like the third time’s not the charm in the Timor Sea, where the latest attempt to get this massive spill under control has failed. Oil and natural gas have been spewing into the ocean and air off Western Australia for 58 days. The Montara oil platform — and the West Atlas drill rig that was working there when the blowout occurred on August 21 — are still at high risk for fire and explosion, and cannot be approached.
This is now being reported as the worst oil spill in Australia since offshore drilling began there 40 years ago.
So far we’ve seen no reports detailing what actually went wrong during drilling that caused a previously-completed well on the Montara platform to blow out. The Norwegian company that operates the West Atlas rig, Seadrill, is also currently working in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on complex, ultra-deepwater drilling projects. Seadrill is a major global offshore drilling contractor, with a fleet of 42 drill rigs. They’ve got an office in Houston, Texas, and have identified the Gulf of Mexico as a targeted area of operation for the company.
At this point we’ve seen no evidence that a Montara-type drilling accident couldn’t happen anywhere, including in US waters. The public deserves a comprehensive and independent analysis of the Montara failure, once the well has been plugged and the platform can be re-occupied.