5/2000 Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates deepwater-drilling worst-case leak at 116,000 barrels per day (BPD), causing underwater plumes: "There are few practical spill-response options for dealing with submerged oil."
7/2000 BP unveils "Helios" logo as part of "Beyond Petroleum" rebranding. Meanwhile, it's slashing costs, firing engineers, and pursuing high-risk, high-reward projects known as "elephants."
4/2002 During spill-response practice runs, oil companies convince regulators to ease public notification rules. Tests reveal oil companies rely on 30-year-old technology. No regulatory changes result.
3/2003 MMS considers mandating remote-control shut-off switches for blowout preventers, but decides against it under pressure from oil companies, including BP.
3/2005 BP Texas refinery blows, killing 15. Prior BP cost-benefit analysis, written as Three Little Pigs fable, found it cheaper to pay off family of pigs (workers) than prevent wolf (explosion).
6/2007 NOAA signs off on deepwater drilling. Forecast: 26,575 barrels spilled over 40 years—around 1/200th what BP well will gush in 3 months.
3/12/2010 Confidential survey of Transocean rig workers finds many worried about safety practices, feared reprisals if concerns were reported, and said that "drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance." NYT will also later report rig not fully inspected since 2000.
3/31 Obama proposes expanding offshore drilling.
4/1 Transocean's Swiss-owned, Marshall Island-flagged, BP-licensed Deepwater Horizon rig passes third federal inspection since January. BP uses loophole to write off 70% of rent, saving $225,000 a day.
4/20 Blowout preventer fails. Deepwater Horizon explodes, killing 11 men. Rig sinks 2 days later.