Offshore-Drilling Disasters: Rare But Deadly

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1969

A Unocal rig explosion off the California coast delivered 70,000 bbl. of oil to the Santa Barbara coastline. A generation of petro-soaked birds paved the way for a moratorium against oil exploration off the U.S.'s Atlantic and Pacific coasts

1979

In a year notorious for long gas-station lines, this was the longest delay of all: a full nine months were needed to plug a leak in an exploratory well located deep in the Gulf of Mexico. By that point, more than 3 million bbl. of oil had spilled

1982

It took waves the height of a five-story building to capsize the "indestructible" Ocean Ranger, at the time the world's largest oil rig. All 84 people on board died during the once-in-a-decade storm off the Newfoundland coast

1988

A gas leak on the platform of the Piper Alpha rig--located off Scotland in the North Sea--caused an explosion, killing 167 workers. It is still considered the world's worst offshore-drilling disaster