Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 16:30

When I went to see the movie “Deepwater Horizon” with some of my graduate students last week, I did not expect accuracy. Drilling for oil and gas is not typically viewed favorably or depicted correctly in Hollywood movies.

When I tell non-oilfield people that I am a professor of petroleum engineering, someone usually brings up the dreadful movie “Armageddon,” in which Bruce Willis’ character, Harry Stamper (“the best deep-sea driller in the world”), is coerced into giving up his offshore drilling job to embed a nuclear bomb into an asteroid that threatens all life on Earth. Conditions on Stamper’s rig, with explosions hurling people through the air, bear little resemblance to the safe, well-controlled environment that one finds on virtually all deepwater rigs around the world.

 had other reasons for low expectations. Most people seem to remember that the Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout (more about this terminology below) caused the worst environmental oil spill in U.S. history, but forget that it also killed 11 offshore workers. The idea of Hollywood profiting from sensationalizing this tragedy seemed quite inappropriate to me.

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