"Two years after a blowout on BP’s Macondo well killed 11 men and triggered the largest oil spill in U.S. history, oil companies are again plying the waters of the Gulf of Mexico."
"Forty-one deep-water rigs are in the gulf. The vast majority of them are drilling new holes or working over old ones, while the other behemoths are idle as they await work or repairs. A brand new rig — the South Korean-built Pacific Santa Ana, capable of drilling to a depth of 7.5 miles — is on its way to a Chevron well.
But three recent incidents in other parts of the world show just how risky and sensitive offshore drilling remains.
In the North Sea, French oil giant Total is still battling to regain control of a natural gas well that has been leaking for nearly four weeks. Meanwhile, Brazil has confiscated the passports of 11 Chevron employees and five employees of drilling contractor Transocean as they await trial on criminal charges related to an offshore oil spill there. And in December, about 40,000 barrels of crude oil leaked out of a five-year-old loading line between a floating storage vessel and an oil tanker in a Royal Dutch Shell field off the coast of Nigeria.
Many experts say that even with tougher regulations here in the United States, such incidents are inevitable."
Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post April 19, 2012.