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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Well Control Equipment Failure Events in the Gulf of Mexico Decreased in 2020

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Third consecutive year of no reported wellbore fluid leaks to the environment


Well control equipment (WCE) failure events during well operations in 2020 decreased 36.8% in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf, according to Well Control Equipment Systems Safety – 2020 Annual Report  released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). The report is based on information collected through SafeOCS, a confidential BTS reporting program for the collection and analysis of data to advance safety in offshore energy operations.

Most (89.5 percent) of the 629 reported failure events—defined as any condition that prevents the equipment from meeting its functional specification—were detected during maintenance, inspection, and testing. The remainder were detected during well-construction activities.

In 2020, 27 oil and gas companies operated 264 wells with drilling activities. These figures are below those from 2019, with the COVID-19 pandemic likely contributing to an overall reduction in both well activity and event reporting.

Report Highlights

  • Event reporting decreased 13.8% when adjusted for the level of well activity.
  • There were no reported leaks of wellbore fluids to the environment (loss of containment). The last such event was reported in 2017.
  • The 629 reported events comprised 608 subsea WCE system events and 21 surface WCE system events.

Today’s report and reports from prior years are available at

Media contact: Todd Solomon,

Technical contact: Allison Fischman,