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 Post subject: Great Article on Causes of the BP Oil Spill
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:22 am 
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Semen Strong
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I read this article in my college magazine, and it explained what caused the BP oil spill really clearly. It was very straight on the fact that the spill was absolutely preventable and attributable to BP's cost cutting and the fact that the US doesn't regulate drilling like England does etc.

I found it interesting and wanted to share:
http://magazine.columbia.edu/features/f ... /oil-water

About the cause of the spill (for more on the regulatory aspect see the article)

Quote:
ANDERSON: BP started drilling the Macondo well on February 15 about 40 miles off the southeastern coast of Louisiana. This was an exploratory well; the rig was in 5000 feet of water and was drilling through a further 18,000 feet of seabed. By March the rig was in serious trouble. It was taking what are called kicks — blobs of natural gas forcing their way up the drill pipe and burping onto the rig floor. Those kicks were coming every few days. It’s the energy from the buoyant mass of oil and gas trying to vent to the surface. (Although kicks are unwanted on the surface, they can be a good sign in the oil business, because the bigger these pressure pulses, the larger the oil and gas reservoir.)

COLUMBIA: How should crews have reacted to the kicks?

ANDERSON: Primarily by keeping the pipe filled with heavy drilling mud, which is a special mixture of heavy clays that is much denser than seawater. A gallon of water weighs about 8.9 pounds. A gallon of this drilling mud weighs up to 22 pounds.

COLUMBIA: The high density of the mud keeps the natural gas and oil down in the reservoir

ANDERSON: Right, but the mud is expensive, and it appears that BP was trying to save money. They were also rushing to finish the well, which had been fighting them the whole time, making them weeks behind schedule. The people on the rig called it the “Well from Hell.” On the morning of April 20, the crew from Transocean (the owner of the rig), over the strong objections of their own drilling superintendent, was ordered by BP to take the heavy drilling mud out of the drill pipe and replace it with seawater. That was the triggering event that allowed the gas and oil to blow out onto the Deepwater Horizon rig floor — then a random spark ignited a tremendous explosion. The rig sank, allowing the free release of the pressure and the energy of all that oil and gas into the ocean. The rest is history.

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 Post subject: Re: Great Article on Causes of the BP Oil Spill
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:34 pm 
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Making Threats to Punks Again
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This is interesting. Thanks tofulish.


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 Post subject: Re: Great Article on Causes of the BP Oil Spill
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:27 pm 
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Not NOT A Furry
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Good article.

Other interesting notes: MMS (now Bureau of Ocean Energy) approved permits for BP to operate with a number of recommended safety precautions reduced. The blowout preventer was known to have been damaged about four months before the explosion…

The only major thing I didn't see in the article was discussion of the cement capping. It isn’t that they removed the mud to save money, that’s a normal part of the process. Cement is put in the pipe first (being denser, it simply sinks through the mud) to cap off the well, THEN the mud is replaced with water. BP was working with reduced (cheaper) equipment during capping, causing an improper seal. I can’t find the reference right now but I also read something about problems caused by cost cutting for the cement ingredients/mixing. AND, they cancelled a recommended test of the cement seal. The cement failed, which they didn't know until the mud was removed, and then, blowout.

The weird thing is that Halliburton does the cementing. The executive was informed BP was working with reduced equipment, sent a report saying that would most likely cause a bad seal, but they went ahead with the cementing anyway…? Who says “no”, and when?? BP can say “Well Halliburton did the cementing that failed, so…” and Halliburton can say “Well we TOLD THEM it wouldn’t work and they told us to do it anyway, so…” At what point does someone say, listen, stop, we need to do this right? I don’t care how many “Uh, not gonna cut it” memos you sent, you went ahead knowing perfectly well you were doing a crepe job. what the fizzle?

I think the main thing that really frustrates me about this is, you bet your asparagus every single oil company and rig is or has been guilty of one or all of the same issues: cost cutting in equipment & materials, ignoring needed safety tests, poor inspection record, failing to update equipment in spite of problems being found, corruption, etc.

BP just happened to be the company to hit the perfect storm of all of these at once – if just the cement cap failed but the BOP was working, they could have covered up a lot of their corner cutting. If the cement hadn’t failed, no one would have known how lazy they were about their blowout preventer or their centralizers or the fact that they cancelled the cement test. If they’d been in shallow water, they could have capped the well a lot sooner and covered their asparagus more effectively. This could have happened to Shell, Exxon, etc., ANYONE just as easily. And I’m afraid as the months go by no one in charge who has the ability to make things better will remember that.

[/ranty]

I’ll spare you my extensive overkill of information on the difficulties of working in deep water, how no one invests in ocean technology, and why they couldn’t just “go down there” and “turn it off”. I know more than any human being wants to know about deep water submarines.

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 Post subject: Re: Great Article on Causes of the BP Oil Spill
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:31 pm 
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Semen Strong
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Mack the Spork, you have much wisdom. This has only deepened my crazed fangirl crush on you.

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