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BP's Gulf Spill Report Shows String of Failures 181

eldavojohn writes "News is out of BP's report on the gulf spill that shifts some of the blame on to other companies like Transocean that worked with BP in erecting the Deepwater Horizon rig. If you were affected by the spill, you might find the video, executive summary and 193-page report an interesting read. The summary outlines six or seven major failures in safety and engineering that all built up to the deaths of eleven workers and widespread contamination of the gulf. From incorrectly using seawater instead of drilling fluid to misinterpreting pressure test results, this report is just BP's side of the story as the blowout preventer has been pulled up and is still on its way to NASA where it will be analyzed by government investigators who will be able to compile their own report."
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BP's Gulf Spill Report Shows String of Failures

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  • Re:Bad link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Scorch_Mechanic ( 1879132 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:14PM (#33510234) Journal
    There's something inherently just about a bad summary with a bad link describing the bad behavior of a bad company.
  • Re:Bad link (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:42PM (#33510568) Homepage
    This [] is nice tear down of the executive summary. The Oildrum has had an excellent running commentary on the Macondo Spill. It's primarily a 'Peak Oil' site but it is done quite well. My favorite quote from some apparently ancient oil guy named 'Rockman' who's major failing in life seems to be a horrible addiction to Blue Bell ice cream:

    Here's what I saw as critical aspects of the executive summary from the BP report. "Indications of influx with an increase in drill pipe pressure are discernable in real-time data from approximately 40 minutes before the rig crew took action to control the well. The rig crew's first apparent well control actions occurred after hydrocarbons were rapidly flowing to the surface. The rig crew did not recognize the influx and did not act to control the well until hydrocarbons had passed through the BOP and into the riser."

    "Well control response actions failed to regain control of the well. If fluids had been diverted overboard, rather than to the MGS, there may have been more time to respond, and the consequences of the accident may have been reduced."

    And a viable excuse offered: "The explosions and fire very likely disabled the emergency disconnect sequence, the primary emergency method available to the rig personnel, which was designed to seal the wellbore and disconnect the marine riser from the well.

    Given a number of highly questionable decisions, BP appears to volunteer to take a few arrows themselves: "The team did not identify any single action or inaction that caused this accident. Rather, a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident. Multiple companies, work teams and circumstances were involved over time."

    So BP may claim a collective blame but I go back to their lead off position: ""the crew... did not act to control the well". If you followed the debate between syn and I you can see how I take BP's report: yes...BP and others made mistakes. BUT the TO drill crew "did not act to control the well". And that lack of action allowed the kick to turn into a blow out that killed 11 hands and wrecked the GOM.

    Opinions will vary, of course. And in the end there will be legal judgment rendered. But each person, including the surviving participants, will come to their own conlusions.

    Summary of the Summary: BP did a bunch of stupid things, but it was TO's (Trans Ocean - the rig owner) responsibility to control the well even if BP purposely designed the rig to fail. They didn't do that. And Boom. IMHO this is not a shot across the bow of's an arrow aimed straight at their heart: "the crew... did not act to control the well".

  • by alfredos ( 1694270 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:59PM (#33510786)

    It is the same with aviation accidents. Sometimes it's just an individual screwing up, but that's the exception.

    No, it's the norm if not always the reason

    I agree a bit with that. But I also think that while NTSB investigation and reports are top notch, they suffer from being (unavoidably) within the same environment.

    I'll give you an example. You can easily support, NTSB reports in hand, that flying by eye in meteorological conditions that are too hard for that (visual into IMC for you pilots out there) is one of the leading causes of accidents in light airplanes. That is too bad. Anybody can get some additional training and learn instrument flying. Well, if it's that easy why isn't it done in the first place? Why does not everybody get at least basic instrument training so that they can keep their act together when the shit hits the propeller? From there you can easily jump to a politics debate but keep with me for a moment. I'll give another example.

    Another leading cause of light aviation accidents is loss of engine power. Now loss of power can be due to a number of reasons: You can run out of gas, for example. Or you can forget to adjust the mixture as you go up or down. Or your carburetor can get ice. There exists technology enough to eliminate or greatly reduce the danger in most of these causes. Why isn't it done? Well, firstly because a fully computerized control system for an aviation engine costs as much as a new car. Now you can argue that the pilot is putting his/her life to risk because of economical considerations, or you can look at the reasons why everything is so damned expensive in aviation. I'll leave it to you, but yes, it's as easy as it seems.

    My point is that it's worth the effort to dig a bit more. You can't expect everybody to be fully proficient at everything they get into. Instead, however, helping environments become safer by promoting safe ideas, technologies, training and norms pays much more than blaming the individual and leaving it there.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:48PM (#33511634) Homepage Journal

    Who did what which led up to the leak is not the major issue in most people's minds, I think. Accidents can and will happen. This same type of accident will happen again sooner or later. Whether anyone involved was negligent in the construction or if it was unknown factors leading up to the explosion and leak is immaterial.

    What is upsetting about the issue is that the responsibility of the response (or lack thereof) falls into the laps of both BP and the Obama administration. Here is the list of problems I see:

    * The rig operator (BP?) is supposed to have rapid response plans and technology in place should an event occur
    * BP execs sat with their thumbs up their asses trying to save money by serializing plugging attempts, instead of readying the efforts in parallel so in the event that one attempt fails the next could be engaged within hours rather than weeks
    * BP was allowed to use dispersants which take 50,000 years to break down, just to minimize the appearance of the leak. BP took advantage and released tens of thousands more gallons per day than allowed, and refused to cut back even after the EPA told them to cut back. If they had not used dispersants, the oil would have been more likely to form tarballs sooner, and bacteria/fungus that feeds on hyrocarbon compounds would have started to break it down more quickly. They ought to have let nature take its course rather than allow it to disperse and spread much faster. Now the fish in that region are going to be contaminated and who the hell knows what that will do to offspring - and children who eat that fish.
    * They fought against press coverage tooth and nail, even though photographic and video footage would help to ascertain the extent of the damage and assist in planning the next response action
    * the United States government turned it into a total clusterfuck by refusing help from the Netherlands (who have extensive experience responding rapidly to this sort of thing), refused to proactively clean the spill before it reached shore, and actively blocked the state of Louisiana from taking action. They also did much to shield BP and Haliburton by enforcing no-fly zones and restricting access by boats and to contaminated shoreline

    Now, people love to slam Bush for not letting the fed jump in when Katrina hit - what they refuse to accept is that Federal law prohibits the federal government from interfering in such cases unless assistance is first requested and a state of emergency is declared, or the local government becomes incapacitated. Where Louisiana (New Orleans in particular) refused assistance, the Bush administration could hardly be blamed for not interfering. Eventually commons sense overruled the red tape and the feds stepped in even as the mayor and governor insisting they could handle it (uh, right. They blew it.). And yet, Bush is slammed for "hating black people" even though he was paralyzed by federal law and could not legally act even though the fed was mobilized to do so.

    The Obama administration had jurisdiction to handle anything offshore and could have taken many steps to protect the shoreline: accept help from European nations, immediately order BP to commission more ships, at BP cost, to deploy booms and to hire skimmers, and to allow the Louisiana government to act since they were prepared to mobilize to protect their own interests. They failed at every turn and it was not a case of nonfeasance, or failing to act as the law requires, but malfeasance. The Fed went out of its way to slow down response, seemingly to protect BP and Haliburton, which greatly increased contamination. The Obama administration actively blocked action at every turn, and yet is praised for how it handled/is handling the situation? Had we accepted help from European nations, and had we allowed Louisiana to act locally, much of the shallow water marine life would have been spared this contamination.

    I don't take issue with the accident, although if it is due to negligence I believe

  • by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:00PM (#33511818) Journal
    Huge crime organizations exist because they take advantage of government interference. The Prohibition effectively created the market Al Capone made millions serving.
  • Re:Bad link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:37PM (#33512364) Homepage Journal

    It always devolves into he said she said. Phrases come up like "that's not what I meant", "I never said that, I said...", "that's not what I heard...". It's always "nobody's fault". If you try to hold a single person responsible, it'll inevitably be the poor schlep with no actual authority who did what he was told without having enough authority to know about the other things that were don so that the action became dangerous.

    The corporation, however, can be held responsible. Anywhere from surrendering years worth of profits in lieu of jail time and a supervised parole process where their internal documents are an open book to relevant watchdogs. As you point out, breakup and sell-off as substitutes for the death penalty. Needless to say, executive bonuses should be suspended for the period of any sentence. How well could they have performed if they allowed a corporate culture that lead to committing felonies?

  • Re:Bad link (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:46PM (#33512476)

    I agree there are many things that went wrong, that probably could have been avoided on both BP and TO's side. What it all comes down to is money and the issues it has caused with the wildlife in the ocean. If you would like to help out there is some information here about How oil spills impact wildlife []. Overall no matter which company is to blame, the fact that it took them so long to clean up and fix is appalling to everyone.

  • Re:Bad link (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:30PM (#33516390)

    Summary of the Summary: BP did a bunch of stupid things, but it was TO's (Trans Ocean - the rig owner) responsibility to control the well even if BP purposely designed the rig to fail. They didn't do that. And Boom. IMHO this is not a shot across the bow of's an arrow aimed straight at their heart: "the crew... did not act to control the well".

    That's not how it works in the oil and gas business and I have many friends in the industry. The ultimate responsibility is in the hands of the well owner, not the rig owner. In this case that is BP because BP called all the shots. And that is the company people will sue. There are a number of things that BP did to bypass Transocean's safety protocols. While it appears that Transocean may have damaged the BOP before handling control to BP, you don't know if BP knew that. There is evidence BP pressured Transocean to finish off the well their way []. Transocean wanted 3 concrete plugs with finishing mud in between. In order to save time, BP did not want the finishing mud. Professor Robert Bea [] who was asked to investigate the incident by the White House says if the mud had been left, there may have not been a blowout even if the BOP was damaged.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson