Nearly 800 offshore spill accidents in total in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico occurred over the past 50 years. Of these, 80% took place in the oilfield development period, a quarter during drilling and mining operations, and 72% on the platform or rig. Since 2000, the offshore oil and gas exploration and development has been booming with significantly increased number of oil spills. In 2005, most of leak accidents, including 49 cases with results of leakage of more than 50 barrels and 39 cases of 1~49 barrels, appeared in the history, resulting in total leakage of 16,155 barrels. There is no obviously direct relations among operating water depth, distance from the shore and accident frequency. Most of accidents involved oil spills, followed by diesel and mud spills. The statistics of spill incidents show oil spills accounted for 48% to 63% and the diesel spills for 15% to 21%. There are less accidents resulting in casualties and the deepwater horizon accidents is the biggest accidents in the history. Equipment, weather, human factors and external forces (waves, tides and currents, etc.) are the four major factors behind oil spills at sea. Among them, equipment failure is the primary cause for 43% of the total accidents; weather is the second killer, triggering 29%; and human errors involve 18%. In addition, 36% of the total accidents are caused by a single factor, 45% by two concurrent factors, and most of them by the two concurrent factors, bad weather and equipment failure. Development of offshore oil mining must be corresponding with four conditions: advanced technology and equipment, strong capability of early climate warning, high-quality professional teams, better ability to cope with marine external forces.


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