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Last Sunday night 60 Minutes interviewed a walking, talking miracle – Mike Williams, at work as the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon the night it exploded. Employed by Transocean, the largest off-shore drilling company and owners of the rig, leased by BP the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer. One of the most sophisticated drilling rigs in the world at a cost of 350 million (USD), with a crew of 126.
Four weeks before the explosion, the rig’s most vital piece of safety equipment the Blow-Out Preventer (BOP), was damaged. Located down near the sea-bed, it is used to seal the well shut in order to test the pressure and integrity of the well and in the case of a blow-out, it’s the crews only hope. A key component of the BOP, is a thick rubber gasket called an Annular, which can close tightly around the drill pipe. During a test they closed the gasket but, while it was shut tight a joystick was accidentally nudged applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force and moving 15 feet of pipe through the closed BOP.