Expert Witness Forensic Engineer Industrial Controls Automation New Orleans
Arthur Zatarain
Project Profile
Industrial Accident: Subsea Electronic Module

Industrial accident: Operation of a subsea control system during a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The project involved analysis of all system hardware, software, A/C power systems, and battery backup systems. The investigation related to the BP Macondo / Transocean Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The Cameron Mark II BOP control system contained two redundant pods, each containing a VME bus industrial computer. The two SEMs communicated with the surface PLC equipment via redundant umbilical cables. The computers functioned with the OS-9 operating system, running industrial control programs written in both C and assembly language.

Each SEM also contained an independent Automatic Mode Function (AMF) circuit board that could power the SEM via battery power during emergency conditions. The AMF contained a low power PIC processor for both standby monitoring and emergency processing. Operation of the AMF and associated SEM software during the well blowout emergency was a key part of the investigation.

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