Skip to comments.Workers on doomed BP oil rig: Corners were cut to save money
Posted on 05/28/2010 6:44:09 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Two workers injured when an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico told Congress on Thursday that the companies in charge of the doomed drilling operation cut corners and neglected maintenance in a race toward higher profits.
Oil has been spewing since the Deepwater Horizon blew up off the coast of Louisiana April 20, killing 11 workers. More than 100 others escaped.
"They gambled with our lives," laborer Stephen Stone told the House Judiciary Committee. He said the accident was "set in motion years ago by these companies needlessly rushing to make money faster, while cutting corners to save money."
The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. and operated by oil giant BP PLC.
But the Transocean employee in charge of drilling said at a separate hearing near New Orleans that he never felt pressure to accelerate the pace at the expense of safety.
"Not at all," Jimmy Harrell, the rig's offshore installation manager, told a panel of Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service officials.
MMS official Jason Mathews, one of the panelists who questioned Harrell, noted that the project was several weeks behind schedule, a delay that had cost more than $20 million at a daily rate of $525,000.
"I'm sure at times people want to get it done and meet timelines, but (we) never jeopardize safety," Harrell responded.
Harrell also denied reports he engaged in a "heated debate" with a BP official on the day of the accident over a decision to displace drilling fluid with seawater in the rig's riser pipe. Seawater would have provided less weight to counteract the surging pressure from the ocean depths.
"There's a big difference between an argument and a disagreement," Harrell said. "Everything was sorted out, and the proper tests were being performed."
(Excerpt) Read more at realclearmarkets.com ...
NOTE THIS PARAGRAPH :
Brown, an Army veteran who suffered a broken leg and other injuries, told lawmakers the crew was often weeks or months behind on preventative maintenance because Transocean had cut the engine-room staff in half from the initial number or six workers in 2002.
“Three people were left to do six people’s jobs,” he said. Workers complained but didn’t get anywhere, he said. “They just kept telling us they would see what they could do,” said Brown, who says he witnessed a dispute among managers on the day of the explosion.
3 workers to do 6 people’s jobs ? That’s supposed to boost American productivity. No wonder our productivity is so high. Where else is BP-style corner cutting occuring in our econpmy ?
Is that what their lawyers told them to say ?
Expect to see a lot more of it. That's what's going to happen when you have to start paying for health care for 6 people in order to hire 3.
Let me guess. Union workers. 3 can’t work unless 3 are standing around watching them work.
Amongst 100 people, you are bound to find some malcontents in ANY organization.
Seems to me, the government was cutting corners as well by not doing the various checks and environmental preparedness. No wonder people on the rig at the time said no one seemed to know what to do. What do you think is the purpose of emergency drills?
It's starts with the government's culture of corruption, cutting corners, bypassing regulation steps, it all adds up and makes for a miserable ending. Why do you think they designed the regulations and proceedures in the first place?
Who thinks the waivers MMS gave to BP were not payback, tied to the campaign donations BP gave to Obama in 2008? Anyone?
Keep the focus on what really went wrong here, government oversight and regulations were not enforced. Who can blame BP when the government signed off on their corner cutting. And didn't they just fire the one who signed off on the waivers? Minerals Management Service Director Liz Birnbaum — Strange, they must know something.
Sounds like a perfect inquiry for Congress to get to the bottom of it.
Low level people may not know the real story ...
And then KABOOMMM ...
1) Then you were a damn fool to stay on that rig.
2)What did he do on this rig? "Laborer" doesn't tell us much. A roustabout bitching is nothing odd and about like a private telling us how the generals should be conducting operations.
I doubt seriously that corners where cut, but their evacuation plan does need to be reviewed.
Robert Kaluza, BP's well site leader on the Deepwater Horizon, was scheduled to testify but has exercised his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself.
This happens in corporations everywhere. Do more with less but still meet that schedule.
In my business, there’s a saying I’m fond of - “Cost, schedule, quality, pick two”.
This reminds me of the Thiokol engineers telling company officials about a flawed o-ring design on the shuttle and were ignored
Or the nuclear reactor cooling tower that poured concrete too soon, killing men on the platform.
This is an industrial accident and we will find out the root causes eventually...including the cascade of human error.
Why did the blowout preventer not close ? That's its function and purpose - to prevent blowouts from traveling past the wellhead. No explanation has been given for that. The rumor was that a rig hand said BP knew it wasn't working and continued anyway.
How come the cementing job blew out ? Was it sufficiently cured ? I've heard comments that they did not allow sufficient time for a full cure. Also that it was the wrong cement. What's the truth ?
Why did they use seawater to balance the well ? A critical factor in drilling is controlling the pressure in the wellbore. A major factor in that is what fluid is being used. Typically the "mud" used is really a highly engineered concoction, with sufficient density to restrain the oil and gas from travelling up the wellbore, yet light enough to keep it from flowing into the producing strata. But seawater is much less dense than the typical drilling mud. Were they trying to save a few bucks ? Or was seawater actually expected to balance the well pressures ? For sure it didn't work.
The ultimate boss on any drilling rig is "the company man", in this case a BP employee. He or she makes the decisions. In this case it seems three poor ones were made:
1)going ahead with a malfunctioning blowout preventer;
2)an improper cementing job either insufficiently cured or wrong design;
3)using seawater to balance the well.
Setting himself up to be the scapegoat? Or did he defer critical correction of safety and maintenance to make himself look good in the eyes of his bosses?
Maybe at their Houston refinery that blew up, or the recent spillage resulting from implementing the planned shutdown of the Alaska pipeline that they partially own. It seems like they don't follow common sense practice in following the right sequences for the processes they're performing.
Perhaps BP officials lobbied folks in the MMS: “The costs here are killing us; we need to get some kind of relief from some of these rules that don’t mean anything, that are just paperwork red-tape issues, so we can finish this and get out of here. Is there anything at all you can do to help us?”
Well, here’s the bottom line -— THEY HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT CAUSED THIS RIG TO GO DOWN.
If an accident, what was the source ?
If a sabotage, who did it ?
If we don’t know the cause of this, we will not be able to prevent a next one from happening.
Out on an oil platform, you don't get flown home at 5pm. I'm going to guess that's 3 people to cover a 24/7 operation, so there would only be one or two on duty at ant particular time. With 6 people, you could have 2 or 3 on duty 24/7 and everybody gets some rest.
Has this been confirmed? I have read no evidence at all that the cementing job that Halliburton performed that sealed the area between the outside of the casing and the borehole has failed. I have seen and participated in lots of discussion that cementing of the casing itself was deferred under direction by BP until the mud was removed from the casing. That just doesn't make sense to me at all; I don't care what pressure tests they ran. They had apparently experienced several pressure spikes leading up to the incident even when driller's mud was in place, so how could removing that mud have had any positive results?
Also, there have been several discussions about three plumes of oil and gas coming up; but although the investigation may determine otherwise, I suspect these plums came up through the blowout preventer piping. Remember that the blowout preventer had apparently been modified by BP, and reports were that drawings of the modifications may not even exist. This appears to be common when construction folks take the engineers' design and implement it. That may very well explain why attempts at activating the BOP didn't work. Perhaps they were operating the wrong valves? Nobody knows yet, but when they retrieve the BOP, it needs to be examined in the open by a group of proper experienced professional so that nothing can be hidden.
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