Human error analysis of the Montara well blowout Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The 2009 blowout from the Montara wellhead resulted the total loss of the West Atlas drilling rig and caused massive ecological damage in the Timor Sea of Australia. The incident preceded the 2010 Macondo Deepwater Horizon blowout and shared many parallels. An analysis is performed to assess the Montara incident and finds it stemmed from a series of human errors including, but not limited to, miscalculations, procedural errors, hasty decision making, and failure to follow the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practices 75 on drilling mud circulation. Twelve specific errors were identified and classified into eight categories. The results show that 10 of the 12 errors were latent errors preceded by the 2004 relaxation of the Australian Government's off-shore drilling industry regulations. Following industry guidelines, best practice procedures, and safe work practices are crucial to avoiding a well disaster and these were not a key aspect of the Montara wellhead operations; ultimately, safety was not a top priority.

published proceedings

  • Process Safety Progress

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, P. K., Craig, B. N., Wang, Q., & Larraaga, M. D.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Smith, PK||Craig, BN||Wang, Q||LarraƱaga, MD

publication date

  • March 2021