Was the Gulf Oil Disaster a Result of a BP BigWhig Party?

The Times-Picayune reported last week that an oil worker who survived the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, that killed 11 people and started a disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, said a key safety measure was not being implented on the rig.

Lawyer Scott Bickford said his client claims a column of mud was being removed from an exploratory well before it was sealed with a top cement cap -- a move he described as "human error" that may have in turn failed to prevent the deadly explosion.

A statement from cement contractor Halliburton, reported by the New Orleans newspaper, confirmed the top cap was not installed. The column of heavy mud is one of the core defenses relied upon by drillers to prevent explosions.

So they cut corners to get the job done quickly. Here's a question. Have you ever worked in a place where the bigwhigs were coming to town and you had to quickly get everything ready for them?

Remember that there were six senior British Petroleum executives on the oil rig at the time of the explosion, celebrating a recent safety award the company had gotten. Getting senior executives out to an oil rig all at the same time is something that requires some coordinating and planning.

What if the drillers and Halliburton were told that the executives were going to be there on April 20th for the party, and therefore they had to hurry to get the job done? And therefore they skipped the time-consuming step of putting the mud plug in and went straight to the cementing process, apparently the fatal mistake that let the giant methane bubble rush up and explode the rig?

Was this entire disaster the result of a hurry-hurry-up because the big shots were flying out by helicopter and the riggers had to get things done "stat"? Who were these six executives? How far out was their visit planned?

Did Halliburton and Transocean cut corners because they were either explicitly told to by BP or implicitly pressured to by BP because the executives were on their way out for the party?

And why is nobody talking about who these executives were, and nobody is telling the life and family stories of the eleven workers who died in the rig explosion?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Comments

Bullhorn Journal's picture
Bullhorn Journal 9 years 19 weeks ago
#1

That workers would have cut corners to impress bosses seems all too possible. We are now a country of servants less than working men and women, it is our ethos to bow and scrape to power thanks to the destruction of unions. I can definitely see this happening. But I fear that even if an investigation reveals that workers did cut corners there will still be no condemnation of the fact that we've turned our workforce into a people who won't speak out even at the danger of losing their own lives.

LeMoyne's picture
LeMoyne 9 years 18 weeks ago
#2

Nothing succeeds like success. The execs came to celebrate the safe drilling of a fat new well. There is an independent review in process by repected engineer Dr.B in process now. Times Picayune reporters said he has found there was a debate about how to transition from exploration to production and the mud removal side won over the people concerned about the plug stability. Oops. Seems like the law of unintended consequences is in play here: that well was 'hot' with gas - too hot to handle. The T-P said that the mud geysered up 200 feet when the natural gas burped out the plug and then the well pushed out methyl hydrate slush all over the rig and that burst into flame as it evaporated into natural gas. Nothing succeeds like success - until it explodes in your face.

deepseas's picture
deepseas 9 years 18 weeks ago
#3

Life is filled with horrors from man's ego and inconsiderations. I worked for a major corporation for years and helped with events when VIPs and CEOs were attending. The corners that were cut and the scrambling that when on to make everything perfect for them was comical and exhausting. If things went wrong, jobs were even at stake. I've seen people bump into each other and drop what they were carrying because they were in such frantic states. Yes, it is quite likely this happened on the rig that day. Shame.

notherway's picture
notherway 9 years 18 weeks ago
#4

In this very moment are we not acquescing to corporate power? We are leaving the containment and news of the containment up to BP. Thus the strategies implimented are those that serve the corporation rather than the environment. BP should be directed to just forget about the investment and future monetary value of the well, pull out the pipe and plug it with a narrow angled cone shaped plug.

LeMoyne's picture
LeMoyne 9 years 18 weeks ago
#5

I like the thinking there notherway: Just cap it dammit.

BP seems to be in a world of hurt now. Their top-of-the-line exploration rig sunk to the bottom and likely onto the riser pipe which is broken somewhere. On the one hand the capture box doesn't work to capture the oil a mile down. On the other hand the supposed next best plan to 'drill another well to plug the first from below' will take over a month. On the gripping hand: Why can't they just plug it or bury it somehow? Or why not put a microwave heater in the freaking capture box to melt the methyl hydrate slush if that's the probllem?

I think they only care $75 million dollars. They also will spend some on damage control PR. So they are still madly trying to pretend the spill away while their corporate lawyers try to get everyone to sign away their right of redress. There is a basic lesson about lawyers here: The bad corporate (BP, TransOcean) lawyers are circling victims like sharks while the oil is still spewing out. The good trial lawyers were ready (Papantonio, Kennedy, et al.) and have already sued for redress on behalf of fishermen, resort owners, resort workers, coastal property owners, etc. Hopefully they will be able to get injunctions against similar disasters in process.

Alex Hidell's picture
Alex Hidell 9 years 18 weeks ago
#6

This,

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force (pre 2001) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/15/AR200511...

begets this

"The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead and kinked piping currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels - or 210,000 gallons - per day.

If that happens, according to this article from Pure Energy Systems, you can turn out the lights, because we're all done. Birds, bees, you, me, and everything else on planet Earth could be facing mass extinction...:

Things Fall Apart by Wm. Rivers Pitt http://www.truthout.org/things-fall-apart59152

The Pure Energy Systems link

http://pesn.com/2010/05/02/9501643_Mother_of_all_gushers_could_kill_Eart...

blindsquirrel's picture
blindsquirrel 9 years 18 weeks ago
#7

I recall just such a hurry up and prepare for the "big-wigs" or "brass" ,or putting the sweat pumps on line was a term used when hosting the dog and pony show. (actually when I pause and think on it that's what the whole gig was about - trying to impress V.I.P.'s). Our ship, a destroyer escort had fouled itself with some oil and the deck crew was told to paint over the oil without properly preparing the surface as according to NavPer instructions. The paint will never adhere. The job would have to be done over next week. I brought this piece of information to the Boatswain mate. He promptly wrote me up for insubordination or some such and I was a forget-able number of hours of punishment to work off durning my off hours by performing menial labor for another department. My punishment was to re do the paint over. Looking back I see how that is really what they do best... Paint over their mistakes and the enlisted punished for it.

When Le Moyne asked " Why can't they just plug it or bury it somehow? " I laughed at the irony - Just who are the pros-from-dover?, the hot shots, the can do people that secured the no-bid contracts in Iraq because they were the only people that could do the job? So afraid were they that Sadam would set fire to the oil fields that they hired Haliburton. Haliburton.

sdougreid's picture
sdougreid 9 years 18 weeks ago
#8

Republicans complain about the costs of preventing pollution and caping carbon. They place dollar figures on what it will cost our economy to protect these resources as they oppose efforts to protect our planet. Democrats need to emphasize the monetary value of the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Earth? These resources are priceless!

dirkthedog's picture
dirkthedog 9 years 17 weeks ago
#9

Oh so true. If we want to reach those on the other side, we have to learn to talk their language and frame our arguments in terms they can relate to no matter how alien that language may be to us.

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