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Innovation From the Ashes – An Ongoing Series – Deepwater Horizon

by: David Nickelson, Director of Research

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010 it triggered the largest oil spill in US history. Subsequent analysis from the US Chemical Safety Board of the explosion revealed a series of system failures that allowed the explosion and leak to take place.

Amazingly, another failure - an incorrectly wired battery and solenoid connection - nearly stopped the disaster in its tracks during its initial moments. 

Unfortunately we can't rely on errors to solve other errors on any kind of consistent basis so it's no surprise that the Deepwater Horizon disaster spurred individuals and companies to think (and rethink) of ways to prevent such a problem from happening again.

In the 24 months preceding the blowout, the terms blowout, disaster, explosion and leak appeared in the claims of approximately 334 US patent filings in the oil and gas drilling and exploration sector. During the 24 months following the blowout, they appeared in approximately 548 US patent filings, an increase of over 67%.

By comparison, US patent filings in the same sector increased slightly under 18% during that time, indicating that much of the increased activity was spurred by the disaster. 

While it's impossible to anticipate or prevent all disasters, situations such as the Deepwater Horizon show that US inventors are quick to step in with solutions to complex problems and Techson will be right there to assist.

Have an idea for a problem you see in industry? Give us a call, we can help you determine where your idea fits into the existing patent landscape.