Rice U. experts share insights on 10th anniversary of Deepwater Horizon oil spill


Jeff Falk

Rice U. experts share insights on 10th anniversary of Deepwater Horizon oil spill

HOUSTON – (April 16, 2020) – Ten years ago this month, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico dominated international headlines.

Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

Walter Chapman, the William W. Akers Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University, and Ken Medlock, senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, were among the first experts at the university to provide news media with insights on the spill’s impacts. They are available to discuss the anniversary of the disaster with the media.

“It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years,” Chapman said. “The oil industry learned some hard lessons about safe operations. As a result, the oil industry has been adopting concepts about safer design that have been used in the chemical process industries for many years.

“The overall energy industry continues to evolve with emphasis on technology and diversity of operations,” he said. “Oil production from offshore continues to be a significant portion of the world production, but in the United States, 10 years ago is also the beginning of dramatic growth in onshore, tight oil production that is the largest fraction of U.S. production.”

Meaning of anniversary in midst of COVID-19

“A decade ago the offshore oil industry experienced a significant blow with the Deepwater Horizon accident at the Macondo prospect,” Medlock said. “In the wake of that event, firms across the industry have taken significant steps to improve safety, not only at well sites but across all operations, invoking a new culture of safety. The industry has emerged stronger for it.

“Today the industry is facing a crisis in multiple dimensions with the economic collapse driven by COVD-19, including for worker safety,” he said. “The culture that has emerged post-Macondo has helped. Moreover, the resilience that the industry has consistently demonstrated will manifest again as we move forward.”

To schedule an interview with Chapman or Medlock, contact Jeff Falk, director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.


Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Chapman bio: https://chbe.rice.edu/content/walter-g-chapman

Medlock bio: www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/kenneth-b-medlock-iii

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.