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2010 May 12 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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A Common Problem

Gulf Gusher symbolI’m not being sarcastic when I say that this happens all the time, and not just in the oil industry. When you ask for plans to trouble-shoot a problem what you get will almost always be drawings that were submitted for approval, and not what was actual built.

McClatchy reports that Oil spill: BP had wrong diagram to close blowout preventer

WASHINGTON — In the days after an oil well spun out of control in the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers tried to activate a huge piece of underwater safety equipment but failed because the device had been so altered that diagrams BP got from the equipment’s owner didn’t match the supposedly failsafe device’s configuration, congressional investigators said Wednesday.

If there were “as-built” plans, they are probably on the sunken vessel in a filing cabinet. BP and the drilling crew modified the BOP, so there is no way the manufacturer is going to have plans of what was done. All Cameron can do is supply the plans for what left their factory.

May 12, 2010   7 Comments

It Wasn’t Exactly A Surprise

Gulf Gusher symbolHenry Waxman is not a happy camper. From today’s House hearing

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the oil company told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight privately that the well failed a key pressure test just hours before it exploded on April 20.

The test indicated pressure was building up in the well, which could indicate oil or gas was seeping in and could lead to an explosion, said Waxman.

“Yet it appears the companies did not suspend operations, and now 11 workers are dead and the Gulf faces an environmental catastrophe,” he said, asking why work wasn’t stopped on the well.

Actually, it would appear that work did stop, but nothing was done to improve the situation, according to the captain of the supply ship.

According to the testimony of Alwin Landry, captain of the supply ship Damon B. Bankston, his vessel was tied up at the Deepwater Horizon taking on drilling mud being pumped out of the well. He expected to received 4,500 barrels from the rig, but at 5:17PM the transfer stopped after only 3,100 barrels had been transferred. He was told that the transfer would restart later.

After 9:00 he called the rig to get an update because he had mud spattering his vessel. He was told to untie and take a position 500 feet away from the rig. At 9:53PM the rig caught fire as the well blew out.

It is reasonable to assume that the crew on the rig thought there was a problem at around 5:00PM, which is probably why they stopped pumping off the mud. What isn’t clear, is why they didn’t reverse direction and start pumping mud back into the well to counter the building pressure. They certainly could have transferred non-essential personnel to the Bankston until things were stable, and shut the hatches to make the rig water-tight.

May 12, 2010   Comments Off on It Wasn’t Exactly A Surprise

A Marriage Of Convenience

The BBC has a story about the prenuptial agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. It seems a bit one-sided.

Two things caught my eye:

“Voting system: Bill will be brought forward for referendum on changing to AV but parties will be able to campaign on opposite sides of argument”; and “MPs will not be able to throw out the government unless 55% vote to do so – a higher threshold than currently.”

So, the LibDems get to put an instant runoff voting system to a vote with no Conservative support, while the Conservatives get to ensure that they are in power for 5 years as they have 47% of the vote in Parliament.

I don’t know what will happen in the UK, but in the US the Repubs would push the change to increase the “no confidence” vote to 55% and tell their erstwhile partner to stuff it. One would hope that the Tories have better manners.

May 12, 2010   Comments Off on A Marriage Of Convenience

Quick Drips

Gulf Gusher symbolLots of things regarding the sludge pool that was the Gulf of Mexico. The newest game on the Coast is find the tar balls, and we have winners in Gulf Shores, Alabama and Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

We read that a Congressional investigation reveals oil rig’s blowout preventer had a hydraulic system leak. They also rigged one of the ram valves on the BOP for testing, so it wasn’t able to work as designed. This was the “fail-safe” system that made an accident “unpossible”. This also makes the acoustic switch that everyone seems to want moot – the valve couldn’t work under those conditions, so another switch is irrelevant.

BP has managed to accomplish something as the ‘Top hat’ reaches Gulf of Mexico floor. This won’t stop the flow, it is merely supposed to direct some of the gusher to a tanker on the surface. They are planning on using warm water and methanol [wood alcohol] to control hydrate build up.

James Gill of the Times-Picayune shows why Louisiana politics are a league of their own in his piece: Polluters have had enough of law clinics.

Yes, the Louisiana Senate is considering a law to prevent students at law schools in the state from representing people in law suits against petro-chemical companies. It’s all the fault of students at Tulane. They didn’t just represent people, they have won cases and polluters have had to pay the people they have poisoned. It’s bad for business. No one will invest in Louisiana businesses if they think there’s any risk involved. What do you think this is, capitalism? 😈

I’ve said before, we have entirely too much tar and too many feathers [already tarred] to put up with this crap from politicians.

May 12, 2010   Comments Off on Quick Drips

Of Course It’s Getting Worse

Florida Wild Dolphin plate

I have already noted that dead sea turtles were washing ashore. and now dead dolphins wash up in Gulf; oil role unclear.

It could be the natural result of swimming in water polluted with oil and dispersants, or breathing the fumes of oil and dispersants, or eating fish poisoned by oil and dispersants – we just don’t know yet.

And we don’t know because BP holding back, UWF researchers say

Researchers from universities across Florida claim they are being locked out of Gulf oil spill response efforts by BP and state and federal agencies.

Since the April 20 spill, BP and government agencies have hampered their efforts to secure information about the spill and scientific data, such as water oil samples, collected during response efforts, the academics said.

“We’re throwing this open for the scientific discourse, and right now, we’re not getting a heck of a lot of information about what’s going on out there,” said Florida State University Associate Vice President for Research W. Ross Ellington. “If we, the scientists, are not getting much information … we know the public isn’t getting information.”

Florida is a state defined by water on all but our North side. Our universities and colleges specialize in water-related activities like marine biology, oceanography, and underwater archæology. They have manned and unmanned submarines. They have decades of records to establish baselines for “normal”. The only reason to block them is to hide the truth.

May 12, 2010   6 Comments