Deepwater Horizon accident and response

On the evening of 20 April 2010, a gas release and subsequent explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig working on the Macondo exploration well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico
The Discoverer Enterprise arrives to install the capping equipment in the Gulf of Mexico The Discoverer Enterprise arrives to install the capping equipment - July 2010

Eleven people died as a result of the accident and others were injured. We deeply regret this loss of life and recognize the tremendous loss suffered by the families, friends and co-workers of those who died.

The fire burned for 36 hours before the rig sank, and hydrocarbons leaked into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was closed and sealed.

The accident involved a well integrity failure, followed by a loss of hydrostatic control of the well. This was followed by a failure to control the flow from the well with the blowout preventer (BOP) equipment, which allowed the release and subsequent ignition of hydrocarbons. Ultimately, the BOP emergency functions failed to seal the well after the initial explosions.

We regret the impacts on the environment and livelihoods of those in the communities affected. We have, and continue to, put in place measures to help ensure it does not happen again.

Further information

How we responded

We have acted to take responsibility for the clean-up, working under the direction of the federal government to respond swiftly to compensate people affected by the impact of the accident, to look after the health, safety and welfare of the large number of residents and people who helped respond to the spill, and to support the economic recovery of the Gulf Coast’s tourism and seafood industries impacted by the spill. We have conducted studies with federal and state natural resource trustees to identify and define the injury to natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

As at 31 December 2013, we had spent more than $14 billion on our response activities. Throughout, we have sought to work closely with government, local residents, our shareholders, employees, the wider industry and the media.

In addition, we have committed long-term funding for independent research to improve our knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and better understand and mitigate the potential impacts of oil spills in the region and elsewhere.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2013 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.