Friday, April 7, 2017

Deepwater Horizon

I was unaware of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico when it occurred in 2010. It was first effectively brought to our attention by the first episode of The Newsroom, which covered it from the perspective of which news to cover and how.

This movie version shows much more closely what happened on the rig leading up to the disaster.  The rig is overdue to start production and maintenance is not what it should be.  Told mainly from the perspective of chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (played by Mark Wahlberg) and the rig supervisor Mr Jimmy (Kurt Russell), we see their frustration at the barely completed safety tests for the well.  BP, the owners of the rig and the oil, do not come off well in this telling. It’s all about profit, and if corners can be cut to make more money, that’s fine.

The first half build the drama to the major well failure and the rest of the movie is the awful scenes of what happened when the well blew. It’s not a movie for the fainthearted, real lives were lost in this disaster.

My reflections afterwards included:
  • Wonder if my dad had seen it and if he would want to? He worked on oil rigs in the early years of his career, including those in the Gulf. Would people who are connected with oil rigs (workers and families) watch this movie? In the same way, do pilots and aircrew watch plane disaster movies? I’m sure it depends on each person, rather than the whole group!
  • When these types of tragedies happen, it’s often the blue-collar workers who are in danger and risk their lives. The executives may make the top decisions and they make the top dollars, but the life-threatening risks are borne by those on the ground, sometimes hamstrung by the decisions made higher up.

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