With the Deepwater Horizon line still haemorrhaging oil, there has been a great deal of uncertainty about what actually caused the blowout (a subject of great interest not only to the public, but also to the various companies trying to avoid full liability for the catastrophe).
Below, a great infographic from The Times shows exactly what the problem was: a deadly combination of failed cement, insufficiently pressured drilling mud, and a BOP (blowout preventer) that couldn’t handle the strain.
With BP’s latest attempts to stop the spill having failed, it looks like the oil will keep spilling for quite some time – building a permanent relief well*, for example, could take a couple of months.
[click on picture for bigger version]
*Watch out for an upcoming post on the subject on misc.ience.