Analysis of Causes of Deepwater Horizon Explosion, Fire, and Oil Spill to Identify Measures to Prevent Similar Accidents in the Future

Analysis of Causes of Deepwater Horizon Explosion, Fire, and Oil Spill Committee

The Honorable Donald C. Winter - (Chair)
U.S. Department of the Navy [Retired]

Donald C. Winter is Professor of Engineering Practice in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan. He served as the 74th Secretary of the Navy from January 2006 to March 2009. As Secretary of the Navy, he led America's Navy and Marine Corps Team and was responsible for an annual budget in excess of $125 billion and almost 900,000 people. Previously, Dr. Winter served as a corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector. In that position he oversaw operation of the business and its 18,000 employees, providing information technology systems and services; systems engineering and analysis; systems development and integration; scientific, engineering, and technical services; and enterprise management services. Dr. Winter also served on the company's corporate policy council. Previously, he served as president and CEO of TRW Systems; vice president and deputy general manager for group development of TRW’s Space and Electronics business; and vice president and general manager of the defense systems division of TRW. From 1980 to 1982, he was with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as program manager for space acquisition, tracking, and pointing programs. Dr. Winter received a doctorate in physics from the University of Michigan. He is also a graduate of the University of Southern California Management Policy Institute, the UCLA Executive Program, and the Harvard University Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security. In 2002, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Paul M. Bommer
University of Texas

Paul M. Bommer is a senior lecturer in petroleum engineering in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a major contributor to publications of the University of Texas Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX), including books on oil well drilling and fundamentals of petroleum. Recently, Dr. Bommer was a member of the NOAA/USGS Flow Rate Technical Group concerning oil rate estimates escaping from the BP Mississippi Canyon 252-001 (Macondo) well. In 1979, he co-founded Bommer Engineering Co., which is an oil and gas consulting company specializing in drilling and production operations and oil and gas appraisals. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Texas. He received a Ph.D. in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis is the Doherty Professor of Ocean Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1970, he was appointed at the faculty of MIT. In 1982 he was made a full professor and was also appointed director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program. In 1989 he established the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Laboratory to develop technology and systems for advanced autonomous surface and underwater vehicles. His more than 100 publications display his wide range of interests including design methodology for ships, vortex-induced response of flexible cylinders, underwater vehicle design, and design issues in advanced shipbuilding including the all electric ship and T-Craft. Professor Chryssostomidis is a licensed engineer in the state of Massachusetts and has served on several National Research Council committees focusing on shipbuilding and marine issues. He received a Ph.D. in ship systems analysis from MIT.

Dr. David E. Daniel
The University of Texas at Dallas

David E. Daniel is president of The University of Texas at Dallas. Previously, he was Dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois. Earlier, Dr. Daniel was L.B. Meaders Professor of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin where he taught for 15 years. Dr. Daniel has conducted research in the area of geoenvironmental engineering, including research on drilling fluids, containment and management of those fluids, and fluid pressure control in the subsurface. Dr. Daniel served as chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ External Review Panel that evaluated the failure of the New Orleans levees. He also served as a member of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, and the Geotechnical Board. Dr. Daniel received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2000.

RDML Thomas J. Eccles
Naval Sea Systems Command

Thomas J. Eccles is a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. He currently serves as Chief Engineer and Deputy Commander for Naval Systems Engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command. Previously, RDML Eccles served at sea aboard USS Richard B. Russell (SSN 687) and USS Gurnard (SSN 662). As an engineering duty officer, he served at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, and as project officer for USS Parche (SSN 683) and assistant program manager for deep ocean engineering in the Navy’s Deep Submergence Systems Program. He served twice in the Virginia Class Submarine Program, directing design and construction. He was executive assistant to the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command. RDML Eccles was Seawolf program manager through the delivery of USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), where his team was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation, then program manager for Advanced Undersea Systems, responsible for research and development submarines, submarine escape and rescue systems, and atmospheric diving systems. He was also program manager for the design and construction of the unmanned autonomous submarine Cutthroat (LSV 2). RDML Eccles’ previous flag officer assignments included deputy commander for Undersea Warfare and Undersea Technology in NAVSEA, and commander of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. In addition to receiving an M.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in mechanical engineering, he received the Naval Engineer degree, and a master’s degree in management from MIT’s Sloan School.

ADM Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr.
U.S. Navy

Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., is a retired U.S. Navy Admiral who served as the seventh Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the nation’s second highest ranking military officer) from 2005 until he retired in 2007. While Vice Chairman, he also served as the co-chair of the Defense Acquisition Board; chair of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council; and member of the National Security Council Deputies Committee, the Nuclear Weapons Council, and the Missile Defense Executive Board. He previously served as Commander U.S. Joint Forces Command, as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and as senior military assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense. ADM Giambastiani was a career nuclear submarine officer who gained extensive operational experience, including command at the submarine, squadron, and fleet levels. His operational assignments included several in which he was responsible for demanding at-sea operations and for the development of new technologies and experimental processes. He commanded Submarine NR-1, the Navy's only nuclear-powered deep-diving ocean engineering and research submarine, USS Richard B. Russell (SSN-687) and the Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet. He currently serves on the boards of the Boeing Company, Monster Worldwide, and QinetiQ Group PLC and does independent consulting. In addition, since retirement, he has served on a number of U.S. Government advisory boards, investigations and task forces. He currently serves as chairman of the Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Panel. ADM Giambastiani graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with leadership distinction.

Dr. David A. Hofmann
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

David A. Hofmann is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. Dr. Hofmann conducts research on leadership, organizational and work group safety climates, and organizational factors that affect the safety behavior and performance of individual employees. His research has contributed significantly to the scientific foundation of assessment tools used to assess the safety and organizational climates of organizations – such as at NASA after the Columbia accident – and to help plan interventions to improve safety climate. His research has appeared in Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Personnel Psychology. He also has published or has forthcoming numerous book chapters on leadership, safety issues, and multilevel research methods. In 2003, he edited a scholarly book on safety in organizations (Health and Safety in Organizations: A Multilevel Perspective) and he has a second edited book forthcoming on Errors in Organizations. He has received the American Psychological Association's Decade of Behavior Award, the Society of Human Resource Management's Yoder-Heneman Award, and has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar. Prior to arriving at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was a faculty member at Purdue University, Texas A&M University, and Michigan State University. Dr. Hofmann consults, conducts applied research, and leads executive workshops for a variety of governmental organizations and private corporations. He received a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Roger L. McCarthy
McCarthy Engineering

Roger L. McCarthy is a private engineering consultant and a director of Shui on Land, Ltd., which is involved in large-scale urban redevelopment in the People’s Republic of China. Dr. McCarthy has substantial experience in the analysis of failures of an engineering or scientific nature. He has investigated the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, the explosion and loss of the Piper Alpha oil platform in the North Sea, the fire and explosion on the semi-submersible Glomar Arctic II, and the rudder failure on the VLCC Amoco Cadiz. Previously, Dr. McCarthy was chairman emeritus of Exponent, Inc., and chairman of Exponent Science and Technology Consulting Co., Ltd. (Hangzhou). In 1992, he was appointed by the first President Bush to the President's Commission on the National Medal of Science. Dr. McCarthy received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004.

Dr. Najmedin Meshkati
University of Southern California

Najmedin Meshkati is a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California. Also, as a Jefferson Science Fellow, he is serving as a senior science and engineering advisor to Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State. For the past 25 years, he has been teaching and conducting research on risk reduction and reliability enhancement of complex technological systems, including nuclear power, aviation, and petrochemical and transportation industries. He has written many articles on human factors, safety culture and accident causation. In addition, Dr. Meshkati has inspected many petrochemical and nuclear power plants around the world, including Chernobyl in 1997. He worked with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, as an expert advisor in human factors and safety culture, on the investigation of the BP Refinery explosion in Texas City. He was elected Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in 1997. Dr. Meshkati served as a member of the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Human Performance, Organizational Systems and Maritime Safety. He also served as a member of the NRC Marine Board's Subcommittee on Coordinated R&D Strategies for Human Performance to Improve Marine Operations and Safety. Dr. Meshkati received a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Keith K. Millheim
Strategic Worldwide LLC

Keith K. Millheim is director and owner of Strategic Worldwide, LLC, which provides advisory services to oil companies for oil and gas exploration and production. He is also managing director of Nautilus International, LLC, which conducts research and development projects pertaining to deepwater well intervention and early deepwater reservoir appraisal. In 2007, he retired from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation as a distinguished advisor. He was also director of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in Norman; director of the Institute of Drilling, Production and Economics at the Mining University of Leoben in Austria; a research consultant and drilling manager for Amoco Production Co; and a petroleum engineer for Conoco. Dr. Millheim’s research interests focus on the implementation of new technology in petroleum drilling. He has experience in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, the North Sea, and West Africa. He is currently serving as a member of the National Research Council Committee on the Review of the Scientific Accomplishments and Assessment of the Potential for Future Transformative Discoveries with U.S.-Supported Scientific Ocean Drilling. Dr. Millheim received a Ph.D. in mining engineering from the University of Leoben. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990.

Dr. M. Elisabeth Pate-Cornell
Stanford University

Elisabeth Pate-Cornell is Burt and Deedee McMurtry Professor and Chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Her specialty is engineering risk analysis with application to complex systems (space, medical). Her research has focused on explicit consideration of human and organizational factors in the analysis of failure risks, and recently on the use of game theory in risk analysis. Applications in the last few years have included counter-terrorism and nuclear counter-proliferation problems. She is a member of several boards, including Aerospace, Draper, and InQtel. She was a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board until December 2008. She received a Ph.D. in engineering economic systems from Stanford University. Dr. Pate-Cornell was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995.

Dr. Robert F. Sawyer
University of California, Berkeley

Robert F. Sawyer is the Class of 1935 Professor of Energy emeritus with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are in combustion, pollutant formation and control, regulatory policy, rocket propulsion, and fire safety. He served as chairman of the California Air Resources Board; chairman of the energy and resources group of the University of California at Berkeley; chief of the liquid systems analysis section at the U.S. Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory; and president of the Combustion Institute. Dr. Sawyer has served on numerous National Research Council committees and is a member of the NRC’s Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He holds a Ph.D. in aerospace science from Princeton University. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008.

Ms. Jocelyn E. Scott

Jocelyn E. Scott is chief engineer and vice president of DuPont Engineering, Facilities and Real Estate. She joined DuPont in 1984 in the DuPont Photosystems and Electronic Products division in Rochester, NY. Ms. Scott served in numerous engineering and operations activities and carried out R&D assignments in various DuPont businesses. She was manager for various engineering positions, and was named executive assistant to the chairman and CEO. In 2002, she was named director of DuPont Engineering and Research Technology, and in 2004 she became director of Capital Asset Productivity. In 2006 she was named director of DuPont Leveraged Operations; later that year, she became managing director, Facilities and Capital Asset Productivity. She was named vice president of DuPont Engineering in January 2008 and appointed to her current position in September 2008. Ms. Scott chaired the 2008 national conference of the Construction Users Roundtable. In addition to participating on various industry advisory boards, she has served on the Committee of Visitors for the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems of the National Science Foundation. She received a master's degree in chemical engineering practice from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dr. Arnold F. Stancell
Georgia Institute of Technology

Arnold Stancell is Turner Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus, at Georgia Institute of Technology, and earlier in his career he was offered tenure at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but decided on a career in industry. He had a 31-year career with Mobil Oil where he was Vice-President U.S. Exploration and Production, offshore and onshore, and subsequently, Vice-President International Exploration and Production for Europe including the U.K., Norway, Netherlands and Germany, and the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi. He led the development of the now $70 billion natural gas production and liquefied natural gas (LNG) joint venture between Mobil and Qatar. Previously, he held senior executive positions in Chemicals and Marketing and Refining. He started in Mobil in 1962 in research and development and has 9 U.S. patents in petrochemical processes. Dr. Stancell received a ScD in chemical engineering from MIT and his thesis was on reservoir rock wettability and oil recovery. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York and Connecticut. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997.

Dr. Mark D. Zoback
Stanford University

Mark D. Zoback is the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University. He is also co-director of the Stanford Rock Physics and Borehole Geophysics industrial consortium. Dr. Zoback conducts research on in situ stress, fault mechanics, and reservoir geomechanics. He is the author of a textbook entitled Reservoir Geomechanics and was co-PI of SAFOD, the scientific drilling project that drilled and sampled the San Andreas Fault at 3 km depth. He also serves as a senior adviser to Baker Hughes, Inc. Prior to joining Stanford in 1984, Dr. Zoback worked at the U.S. Geological Survey, where he served as chief of the Tectonophysics Branch. He is the 2008 recipient of the Walter H. Bucher medal from the American Geophysical Union. He received a Ph.D. in geophysics from Stanford University.


Statement of Committee Composition

Disclosure of Conflict of Interest: Arnold F. Stancell

In accordance with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the "Academy shall make its best efforts to ensure that no individual appointed to serve on [a] committee has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed, unless such conflict is promptly and publicly disclosed and the Academy determines that the conflict is unavoidable." A conflict of interest refers to an interest, ordinarily financial, of an individual that could be directly affected by the work of the committee. As specified in the Academy's policy and procedures (, an objective determination is made for each provisionally appointed committee member whether or not a conflict of interest exists given the facts of the individual's financial and other interests and the task being undertaken by the committee. A determination of a conflict of interest for an individual is not an assessment of that individual's actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest.

We have concluded that for this committee to accomplish the tasks for which it was established its membership must include among others, at least one person who has expertise in oil exploration and production and extensive practical experience with the organization and operation of large petroleum companies.

To meet the need for this expertise and experience, Dr. Arnold F. Stancell is proposed for appointment to the committee even though we have concluded that he has a conflict of interest because he owns stock in an oil company operating in the Gulf of Mexico with a value in excess of $10,000.

As his biographical summary indicates, Dr, Stancell is Turner Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to an academic career of more than a decade, Dr. Stancell worked for 31 years in the petroleum industry. He retired as vice-president of the international exploration and production business for Mobil in 1993. He has extensive experience in corporate petroleum operations in the United States Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Turkey and the Middle East. We believe that Dr. Stancell can serve effectively as a member of the committee and that the committee can produce an objective report, taking into account the composition of the committee, the work to be performed, and the procedures to be followed in completing the work.

After an extensive search, we have been unable to find another individual with the equivalent combination of current practical experience and expertise as Dr. Stancell who does not have a similar conflict of interest. Therefore, we have concluded that this potential conflict is unavoidable.