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The 1977 Bravo blowout at Ekofisk Field was the first major oil blowout in the North Sea. The operator, Phillips, lost control during an open well procedure that was required to replace production tubing in Well B-14. The blowout lasted 7 days, spilling about 3,000 tons of oil per day. The well was killed, in the fifth attempt, by Red Adair on April 30, 1977. Fortunately, the oil that flowed freely was not ignited and reached no shores. No human lives were lost.
This article examines the Bravo blowout in terms of how entrainment in a culture of production hampered the proper exploration of the “solution spaces” that emerged as a result of shifts in task structure, as well as the system’s ability to execute the solution selected.
SHIFT IN TASK AND SOLUTION SPACE
Having started production a few years earlier, the Bravo platform had entered into a routine mode of production by 1977, gathering 15 wellheads on its production deck, Fig. 1. Norwegian regulations required Phillips to provide, on a regular basis, data such as composition of the oil-gas-water
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