The Vermilion 380 blew up today, but it looks like we may have dodged an oily bullet.

Still, could it have been prevented?

Well, as the title suggest, it’s very likely. Because fines are usually in the thousands to tens of thousands. So, to be fined the better part of a million dollars is patently absurd.

The facts from Big Think:

Reviewing the Minerals Management Service database, I see that Apache paid a $435,000 fine on April 23 for the following lapse which apparently unfolded over a period of weeks in January 2009:

The level controller had been removed from the caisson sump, therefore the sump system could not automatically maintain oil at a level sufficient to prevent discharge into the Gulf of Mexico.

Apache also paid a $255,000 fine in April for the following infraction:

On May 2, 2009, the Surface-Controlled Subsurface Safety Valve (SCSSV) at Well JA-001, failed due to a leakage rate greater than the allowable rate of 5 cubic feet/minute. Records indicate that no corrective action to remove, repair, reinstall, or replace was taken prior to the May 19, 2009, notification of inspection.

But wait…what about 2007?

Apache paid another spectacular fine of $446,000 in 2007 for repeatedly neglecting blow out prevention (BOP) equipment. A failed BOP was the ultimate cause of the Deepwater Horizon spill:

Records verified that there was not a low or high pressure test conducted on the following BOP related equipment: HCR choke valve, manual choke valve, HCR kill valve, manual kill valve, kill line check valve, IBOP, TIW valve and choke manifold. These violations were for 2 BOP test periods, 7/19/2006 and 7/26/2006. A mud-pit-level indicator with both visual and audible warning devices had not been installed. There was not a BOP station installed in the work basket of the snubbing unit. The secondary power source (air supply) was isolated with a closed manual block valve located on the inlet piping to the accumulator.

Now, I want to show you how many oil rigs are currently in the gulf from 1942 until recently. Short answer: nearly 4,000. Longer answer: this short video…

(h/t: Deep Sea News)

And Obama calling for a short moratorium to make sure we have the proper safety measures in place is a bad thing?

More as it develops…

Science/Environment Exploded Oil Rig Paid Over $700K In Fines In 2010 Alone