Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oil spill disaster

Posted by parallel

Are you tired of the incessant repeats by talking heads and reporters who don’t understand the technical problems and have no new news? Marvelous how you can make a one hour program about nothing. We already know it is a disaster both for the environment and a lot of people’s livelihoods. Should President Obama be more or less angry? As if that makes any difference.

An educated guess would be that the government knows essentially nothing about how to fix the problem, yet the pundits are starting to cry out to put them in charge. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) “plays a key role in America’s energy supply by managing the mineral resources,” according to them, including oversight that allowed this disaster to happen. So they know enough to fix it? I’m sure they “manage” the $13.7 billion per year in revenues “well”- from Washington DC.

There is plenty of blame to go around. There were 126 personnel on the Deepwater Horizon rig, broken down as follows:

BP 8
Transocean 79 (the firm that owned and operated the rig.)
Contractors such Anadarko Petroleum Corp (BP partner on the well) 41
M-I Swaco, (contractor providing mud-engineering services) 2 killed in the explosion
Halliburton, (Dick Cheney's former company.) 4
Cameron International, supplied the rig's blowout preventer valves.

What went wrong is covered well in a report produced by the Deepwater Horizon Study Group, led by Professor Robert Bea of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote about the problems that led to the disaster:
"The information available to me so far indicates that BP plc and the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service failed to properly assess and manage the natural hazards in a prudent manner.

Improper well design
Improper cement design...
No cement bond logs, ineffective oversight of operations
Bad decision-making – removing the pressure barrier – displacing the drilling mud with sea water 8,000ft below the drill deck...
Early warning signs not detected, analyzed or corrected
Improper operating procedures
Flawed design and maintenance of the final line of defense."

Although we will know more after the various inquiries, it looks like there were a series of mistakes and there is a good chance the top people who pressured the rig operations to speed up will not make the headlines.

Today, there is no known solution apart from a relief well, due mid August. I read that BP wanted to cut the pipe below the blowout preventer in order to apply the cap like they did this week, but were prevented from doing so in the early days by our administration, because it would have increased the flow while it was being done.

Meanwhile the sharks start to circle and the lawyers will try to take 40% (probably get 20%) of the damages paid. Then like a bus crash in Philadelphia where twice as many riders as the bus had seats sued for lifetime payments for “back injuries,” many undeserving people will cash in. I really wonder how many of the five thousand five hundred ships the administration (David Axelrod 13th June) claims to have put to sea will do anything really useful, apart from “doing something.”

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