The Macondo oil spill trial

07 Jun 2013

Morten H. Emilsen testifies as an expert witness in the Macondo oil spill trial

On February 25, 2013, almost three years after the disastrous blowout on the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, the civil trial started in the US District court in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first phase of the trial focused on the cause of the disaster and on whether the actions taken by BP and its partners leading up to the accident constituted gross negligence or willful misconduct, which would result in a multiple increase in the penalties.

add energy's well control specialist Morten H. Emilsen was heavily involved in BP's Internal Investigation Team gathered right after the incident. The team involved BP experts from a variety of fields and Emilsen was hired as one of a few outside contractors to help analyze and determine the kick and subsequent unloading of the well. The Olga-Well-Kill simulations turned out to become very instrumental in the effort of understanding the events leading up to the explosions and fire on April 20, 2010.

As a consequence of the involvement in the Investigation Team, Emilsen was called for two depositions and testified as an expert witness in court when BP presented their case to the Judge Carl Barbier. Emilsen testified that the flow path of hydrocarbons was from the reservoir through a leaking casing shoe and up inside the casing to the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Details on the timing and amounts of hydrocarbons were presented and visualized by several charts and illustrations. His conclusions were based on hundreds of simulations, comparisons with real time data and witness accounts. Emilsen also explained to the court that additional physical evidence obtained after his report was published (08 September 2010) supported his work and conclusions drawn during the investigative phase.