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How Deepwater Happened: A Tale of Negligence

This letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal offers the best and most succinct account of how bad decisions led to the Deepwater Horizon blowout.  This fits with what other people in the industry tell me they think happened.
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Discussions - 7 Comments

I love reading these technical explainations when I can find them -- you just don't get this level of detail from either the news shows or the punditry.

The letter debunks the notion that lack of regulation was responsible here -- unless you can blame MMS for not having an agent ON-SITE to ensure that all procedures all followed.

However, the larger lesson here may be that Government Regulation has limited effectiveness. No matter how many regulatory procedures you write or how big your warning labels are, what do you do when they are ignored?

From how this reads, it is a major FUBAR on behalf of both BP and the Driller. I suspect that the BP lawyers are keeping BP from admitting such, however.

It looks like a classic case of an overbearing project authority figure (i.e. the BP "Company Man") putting unreasonable pressures on a weak onsite project manager (i.e. the Driller's onsite manager) to move ahead with routine shutdown procedures in spite of red flags that were raised.

If the description provided in the link is accurate, it is a classic example of systems failure, where a pretty good system cannot prevent failure when the people involved opted out of the system.

The system may have been thought to be foolproof, but in this case they forgot that fools are far more clever than was envisioned when the system was put in place.

In BP and in the drilling company, heads will roll... the people directly responsible as well as higher-up fall-guys who actually might have done everything right. The drilling company will probably not survive, BP might. New regulations will likely significantly increase the costs of all offshore drilling (not just deepwater), but will not do anything to prevent simple human error. Oil prices will rise as a result.

The rig itself was owned by Transocean. Actual drilling operations were conducted by Halliburton.

mabye it was a false flag because Obama is already using this to push cap and trade now called energy legislation or something like that. even if it were an accident they appear to be in no hurry to fix it.

Some have suggested that the Deepwater disaster is a predictable consequence of BP's decision to become politically correct. We've all seen those silly "Beyond Petroleum" commercials with the happy green cartoon characters. No more nasty hydrocarbons for us! Unlike Exxon-Mobil and those other polluters, we at BP are getting on board with alternative energy! But as some have remarked, this reinvention went beyond image and has had real consequences, which are visible now in the Gulf. BP's focus on "beyond petroleum" meant that the firm's best people were not involved in such enterprises as the the Deepwater project. The account from the WSJ seems to validate this argument. On a side note, I was in PA last weekend for my son's graduation from high school. BP's service station in Williamsport is still operating but it has taken down the BP sign. There is no reference at all to the company. As far as anyone knows, the filling station is now run by a bunch of homesteaders who stumbled onto some abandoned property that happens to feature some gasoline pumps.

Don't let them fool you. The Arabs blew up that platform. They hate it when America produces its own oil. But you won't hear the truth from HUSSEIN Obama who bows to Arab kings.

Mac, that is one of the most self-contradictory things I've ever read on this blog - and that's saying something. Seriously, read through that again. BP tried so hard to live up to their own greenwashing campaign that it caused the greatest oil spill America's ever seen. Oooookay then.

If the hydrocarbons at issue in the Gulf aren't "nasty", I'm sure you'll be willing to pitch in on the clean-up down there (maybe you can meet Sarah - when's she gonna make an all-American appearance down there?) not for the sake of the wildlife per se (that'd be "politically correct"!), but more for the sake of helping to recover some jobs, and to keep your next seafood dinner bill from causing a blowout in your wallet.

Also, you must be one of the last people alive who uses the phrase "filling station."

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