Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

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Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Cynical Idealist » Sun May 02, 2010 4:23 am UTC

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=10505404

If the leak stays constant at 5k barrels/day (which is apparently a low-end estimate, and it may be as much as five times that), it'll equal the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 54 days. Drilling a relief well is anticipated to take three months.

Oh, and the oil may go around through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast of the US.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby poxic » Sun May 02, 2010 4:28 am UTC

And people [some of them] wonder why BCians are mostly against drilling on the Canadian west coast. We're not very good at this stuff. Something will go wrong, one day, somehow, and the benefit of some folks making easy money just doesn't make it worthwhile to me. :(
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sun May 02, 2010 5:40 am UTC

As of the most recent newscast, it's currently leaking about 200 barrels a day, but that was an estimate. Which is still a hecka lot. Several state's coastlines are under direct threat; not only is it a huge ecological disaster, quite a bit of economy is endangered in the form of fishing/shrimping. Plus the weather is keeping a lot of the boons from being effective.

Also, I love Bill Maher.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun May 02, 2010 6:14 am UTC

Given the worlds reliance on oil, and the amount we drill, and more impressively, the amount we freight to all corners of the world, I find these disasters to be horrible, mind numbing, and well within the limits of acceptable risk for a given activity.

The thing I hate more then pictures of annihilated coastal communities, coated sea birds and adowable widdle seals, is the environmentalists who thump their breasts and decry "OIL MONGERER!!!"

News worthy? Absolutely! It's horrible. Motivation for hating on people who approve of oil drilling? Feh.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Kayangelus » Sun May 02, 2010 6:19 am UTC

My first thought on reading this is, would it have killed them to set an extra line of safety measures against something like this happening?

But than I realize that is bad business...

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun May 02, 2010 6:23 am UTC

Kayangelus wrote:My first thought on reading this is, would it have killed them to set an extra line of safety measures against something like this happening?

But than I realize that is bad business...


See, like this.
Oil tankers are double hulled monstrosities that are worth MILLIONS in and of themselves, let alone the cargo they carry. Good business is to ensure they don't have accidents, and good business is mostly what happens. How many oil spills have happened in the history of drilling? In fact, how many barrels of oil have been lost to oil tanker accidents compared to how many barrels of oil have been drilled?

Don't think of these stories as evil capitalist money grubbers cackling over the dying environment, because that's naive.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Kain » Sun May 02, 2010 6:34 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Given the worlds reliance on oil, and the amount we drill, and more impressively, the amount we freight to all corners of the world, I find these disasters to be horrible, mind numbing, and well within the limits of acceptable risk for a given activity.

The thing I hate more then pictures of annihilated coastal communities, coated sea birds and adowable widdle seals, is the environmentalists who thump their breasts and decry "OIL MONGERER!!!"

News worthy? Absolutely! It's horrible. Motivation for hating on people who approve of oil drilling? Feh.


Meh, you are probably right, but it certainly is fun to hate on the oil execs, and those people who approved drilling off the west coast of Florida with statements in the likes of "modern technology makes the likelihood of a spill next to nil." I really, really, really hope this motivates Crist or whomever is in the governor's mansion now (I stopped caring once he started campaigning) to halt off-shore oil drilling off our coast.

The area affect, at least in Florida, looks like it is going to include the second most popular stretch of beaches in the state, so I am now curious as to how much money the state will lose due to decreased tourism. (I am more concerned about the environmental impact, but as there seems to be an idea when it comes to oil that oil is first, environment second, I think it would be better to speak the language of the all-mighty dollar in this case).
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sun May 02, 2010 6:53 am UTC

Kain wrote:The area affect, at least in Florida, looks like it is going to include the second most popular stretch of beaches in the state, so I am now curious as to how much money the state will lose due to decreased tourism. (I am more concerned about the environmental impact, but as there seems to be an idea when it comes to oil that oil is first, environment second, I think it would be better to speak the language of the all-mighty dollar in this case).


Pretty much. Annoying as it is to have politicians, companies, etc value their money above the environment, it also makes a very effective weapon to get them to be more environmentally sound when used correctly.

Hopefully, we will see a much harder push for alternative energies now as well.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun May 02, 2010 6:55 am UTC

Man, I was in Florida right before Hurricane Dennis struck, and I remember seeing the mayham that zero gasoline availability caused. People were buying gas for their generators at 10bucks a gallon. More. Shutting down local refineries means we import more oil. Means this happens MORE, not less.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about getting off fossil fuels, period, but comon, the answer to this problem isn't 'stop drilling for oil', it's start using 'something else'. And that's not going to happen with the demand for oil as it is, and the availability of oil so close. Putting pictures of these distasters up should spark funding for alternative energies, not shut down progress towards getting oil to refineries.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sun May 02, 2010 6:59 am UTC

Sorry, but the output of one oil rig at sea isn't even a drop in the bucket compared to what we import from other countries. In fact, the petroleum available in/around North America is pretty negligible compared to what we import.

Ideally, we'll see increased pressure for companies to develop alternative fuels/power sources. We've been dragging our heels since the oil crisis in the '70's, which btw should have been the single largest incentive to get off of petroleum.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun May 02, 2010 7:06 am UTC

Sorry, total reading failure on my part, didn't even see that it was an offshore rig.

THAT SAID, local drills offset the amount we need to lug in from abroad. I'd still be curious to know how much we've let ooze into the surrounding waters vs. how much we've pumped locally.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Sun May 02, 2010 8:12 am UTC

This is also one of the first accidents of its kind, normally rig accidents end in lots of deaths, rather than an environmental disaster.

Also, Who's bright idea was it to try burning the slick off?
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Zamfir » Sun May 02, 2010 10:13 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:THAT SAID, local drills offset the amount we need to lug in from abroad. I'd still be curious to know how much we've let ooze into the surrounding waters vs. how much we've pumped locally.

How is that comparison relevant? The relevant comparison is between the risk of potential environmental damage vs the benefits. This spill shows that the risks are clearly much higher than expected, which means that the cost-benefit analysis of offshore drilling should shift somewhat.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby yoni45 » Sun May 02, 2010 12:42 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:This spill shows that the risks are clearly much higher than expected, which means that the cost-benefit analysis of offshore drilling should shift somewhat.


Er, I don't think it does -- at all. I doubt the relevant risk analysis was incompatible with the possibility of a disaster such as this occurring.

His statistic would be relevant in that it feeds into the one you're looking for. If the amount we've pumped is way disproportionately greater than what we've let spill, then it significantly bumps up the "benefit" portion of the cost-benefit analysis you're aiming for.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Zamfir » Sun May 02, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:His statistic would be relevant in that it feeds into the one you're looking for. If the amount we've pumped is way disproportionately greater than what we've let spill, then it significantly bumps up the "benefit" portion of the cost-benefit analysis you're aiming for.

In that comparison, you compare the value of the oil you gained with the value of the oil you lost.. But the damage cost of a barrel of spilled oil is much greater than just the value of the oil itself. The Exxon Valdez spilled 250,000 barrels of oil (worth about 4 million dollar in those days), but cleaning cost around 2 billion dollars.

Using that as a rough guide, you have to compare the value of the oil pumped (minus production costs) with 500 times the value of the amount spilled to make a comparison. Perhaps oil prices have risen faster than clean-up costs, so the factor would be somewhat less today. On the other hand, clean up doesn't mitigate the damage entirely, so clean-up cost underestimates the damage done. And this hurting a much more populated zone. BP has already lost 12 billion dollar in share value since the spill.

Er, I don't think it does -- at all. I doubt the relevant risk analysis was incompatible with the possibility of a disaster such as this occurring.

That's assuming the original risk calculations did accurately estimate the chance of an event like this. Of course, it could be that it was indeed a highly improbable event that happened anyway. Their official statement before the spill was that an event like this was so unlikely to happen that it wasn't worth considering at all.
But everything suggests that BP (and all other builders of platforms) underestimated the chance that it could happen. They will be forced to look closer now, and if they have to revise their estimates upwards the cost-benefit analysis will change.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby jestingrabbit » Sun May 02, 2010 3:33 pm UTC

The questions I want answered are how deep was the water this rig was drilling in, and did that make it more likely that an accident like this would occur? They're calling it a deep water rig, so I'm assuming that it was at least a little deeper than usual. Answering the other question seems tricky, but I wonder whether the leak that occured in the timor sea late last year (link) was the result of a similar phenomenon.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Sun May 02, 2010 3:49 pm UTC

Other pertinant questions, does the platform have drilling capablities; was this an underwater failure (of the "pipe" and if so is it drilling or production tubing) or a surface failure (pipe or both safety valves and the wellhead); and what's the planned method of well killing?
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Zamfir » Sun May 02, 2010 4:01 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:The questions I want answered are how deep was the water this rig was drilling in, and did that make it more likely that an accident like this would occur? They're calling it a deep water rig, so I'm assuming that it was at least a little deeper than usual. Answering the other question seems tricky, but I wonder whether the leak that occured in the timor sea late last year (link) was the result of a similar phenomenon.

The current spill is from about 5000 ft of depth, which I think is about as deep as it gets. Perhaps 8000ft or so happens too.

Your won wikipedia link says that the Australian spill is under official investigation, with results expected around now. People are very sensitive about it, because the exact cause will matter for who gets to pay.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby jestingrabbit » Sun May 02, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Other pertinant questions, was this an underwater failure (of the "pipe") or a surface failure (pipe or both safety valves and the wellhead); does the platform have drilling capablities; and what's the planned method of well killing?


Here's a link to a graphic that explains the situation. I of course have no idea if its right, but it matches what they were saying on the news hour.

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill ... e_sea.html

Zamfir wrote:Your won wikipedia link says that the Australian spill is under official investigation, with results expected around now. People are very sensitive about it, because the exact cause will matter for who gets to pay.


Our government is going through a pretty shitty stretch heading up to an election (our deputy prime minister needs to get off here arse and take Rudd down, but realistically that'll happen about six months after the next election). Until then, I expect them to cover up the findings of inquiries and do a bunch of other stuff I don't like. In other words, I don't have any good reason to believe that the findings will be made public in a timely fashion.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby nowfocus » Sun May 02, 2010 4:24 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Sorry, but the output of one oil rig at sea isn't even a drop in the bucket compared to what we import from other countries. In fact, the petroleum available in/around North America is pretty negligible compared to what we import.


This is a common misconception. The US does import vast amounts from Canada and Mexico.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Cynical Idealist » Sun May 02, 2010 4:28 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Other pertinant questions, was this an underwater failure (of the "pipe") or a surface failure (pipe or both safety valves and the wellhead); does the platform have drilling capablities; and what's the planned method of well killing?

Underwater failure of the pipe. There's an intact pipe leading up through the seabed to the blowout valve (which failed to shut off, and couldn't be shut off by robots when they tried it), which leads to a twisted and mangled pipe that's leaking in at least three places.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Hawknc » Sun May 02, 2010 4:31 pm UTC

The spill itself is pretty awful, but I'm surprised it has been this long and they haven't even come up with a plan to stop it yet. Actually I'm surprised that they were even allowed to build without a plan to deal with emergencies.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Bakemaster » Sun May 02, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Also, I love Bill Maher.
Bill Maher wrote:"Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill baby drill' should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty."

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Sun May 02, 2010 5:01 pm UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:Other pertinant questions, was this an underwater failure (of the "pipe") or a surface failure (pipe or both safety valves and the wellhead); does the platform have drilling capablities; and what's the planned method of well killing?

Underwater failure of the pipe. There's an intact pipe leading up through the seabed to the blowout valve (which failed to shut off, and couldn't be shut off by robots when they tried it), which leads to a twisted and mangled pipe that's leaking in at least three places.


In that case they'll probably have to place a relief well, kill the well, and then complete a workover of the production pipe; That's not going to be massively quick.

Oh eck having read that article, they can't do a workover, as the failure of the downhole safety valve* (and presumably the BOP on the platform) caused an accident that apparently took the whole platform with it.
*I'm a bit confused a little, a BOP is mounted at the wellhead, but the article shows a wrecked platform which means it would have been cheaper to have a surface wellhead than a subsea one Just read the wiki on Deepwater Horizon, it was a mobile drilling platform, and presumably BP wanted to establish multiple subsea wellheads linked to one production platform.

Even more questions:

Why is BP taking the stick when it warned Transocean (the people who were actually repsonsable for the rig, who acknowleged that the device "did not work right") that the BOP it was using (manufactured by Hydrill [Now owned by GE] and Cameron International, who also deserve some blame for selling faulty safety equipment) was malfunctioning in 2000, a year before the deepwater horizon was even launched.

Why has there been fuck attention given to the fact that 11 people died?
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby yoni45 » Sun May 02, 2010 7:30 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:In that comparison, you compare the value of the oil you gained with the value of the oil you lost...


Not really -- whatever I'm comparing against doesn't change the fact that it's relevant, given that the more oil we gained would bump up the 'benefit' column regardless of what criterion I'm comparing against in a cost-benefit analysis.

Zamfir wrote:
Er, I don't think it does -- at all. I doubt the relevant risk analysis was incompatible with the possibility of a disaster such as this occurring.

That's assuming the original risk calculations did accurately estimate the chance of an event like this...


No, that's only assuming the possibility that the original risk calculations accurately estimated said chances -- an assumption you haven't shown to be false, and the falsity of which your argument depends upon.

Given the rest of your post, it seems your argument is largely unsubstantiated -- you're claiming the risk analysis was flawed, on the basis of an event that was completely compatible with a valid risk analysis.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Technical Ben » Sun May 02, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

It's really sad that the whole rig went down with people on it. We have had helicopter crashes and smaller accidents locally in the north sea. So our heats and sympathy go out to those involved.
As regards the spill, my first thoughts were "why can they not just use explosives to cause a collapse of the well". But I guess it's not that type of well.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Dream » Sun May 02, 2010 10:46 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:It's really sad that the whole rig went down with people on it. We have had helicopter crashes and smaller accidents locally in the north sea. So our heats and sympathy go out to those involved.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby General_Norris » Mon May 03, 2010 11:44 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:The spill itself is pretty awful, but I'm surprised it has been this long and they haven't even come up with a plan to stop it yet. Actually I'm surprised that they were even allowed to build without a plan to deal with emergencies.


You assume too many things. There's nothing telling us "They didn't comply with the neccesary safety measures for aproval" or "They had no emergency plans".

Also this is no easy task and each problem is quite unique. Even the best designed infrastructure or machine can fail and even if the ring had a design flaw that doesn't mean anybody was aware of it.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Fume Troll » Mon May 03, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

They certainly would have had a large number of plans to deal with emergencies, which is why events like this are so rare. There are currently around 500 offshore drilling rigs working every day around the world, and the emergency procedures, plans and assessments for them are generally very good. For a disaster like this to happen, several layers of preventative or mitigating actions need to have failed, which is quite unlikely.

During conventional drilling, a heavy mud maintains a hydrostatic pressure in the well which exceeds the reservoir pressure, preventing flow to the surface. Small changes in flow from the well, or pressure at surface can therefore be seen quickly and action taken to redress they pressure balance.

If an increased flow from the well is seen, the blow out preventer (BOP) can be closed - either around the drillpipe, or across an empty well. They can also shear pipe off in the well if required. BOPs are extremely reliable, and regularly function and pressure tested. They have several back up power sources and can be operated even when there is no rig power available. To have one fail to operate is very unusual. It is possible that an attempt to shear the pipe at one of the threaded connections (which may be too thick for the shear capacity of the BOP) prevented the BOP functioning correctly, but even then, shutting other parts of the BOP would normally have worked.

However, with a well flowing, and a non-functioning BOP, things would be quite messy. The heavy mud is pushed out of the well, and is replaced by lighter oil and gas, further reducing the pressure at the bottom of the well and therefore allowing reservoir fluids to be produced at an ever higher rate. If the drillpipe is in the well, you can start to pump more heavy mud, or cement, to redress the pressure balance or to plug the well - this has a good chance of success. However with pipe out of the hole and being unable to seal the well with the BOP, you are in serious trouble. Hydrocarbons flowing from the well shouldn't ignite, as the equipment on the rig is explosion proof, however there is always the potential for a stray spark, and then you have fire. A situation like this has a good chance of ending with the loss of the rig.

With the rig sustaining enough damage to sink, the marine riser (the pipework which connects the rig to the BOP) would be severely damaged by the sinking rig. The riser in this case isn't flexible, it's massive sections of steel pipe, probably 30" or so across.

This article on what happened is quite good : http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/20 ... d-and-why/

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Kaelri » Mon May 03, 2010 7:42 pm UTC

AP via Daily Kos:
Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanography professor at Florida State University, said his examination of Coast Guard charts and satellite images indicated that 8 million to 9 million gallons had already spilled by April 28.

"I hope I'm wrong. I hope there's less oil out there than that. But that's what I get when I apply the numbers," he said.

Alabama's governor said his state was preparing for a worst-case scenario of 150,000 barrels, or more than 6 million gallons per day. At that rate the spill would amount to a Valdez-sized spill every two days, and the situation could last for months.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Zamfir » Mon May 03, 2010 7:43 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
Hawknc wrote:The spill itself is pretty awful, but I'm surprised it has been this long and they haven't even come up with a plan to stop it yet. Actually I'm surprised that they were even allowed to build without a plan to deal with emergencies.


You assume too many things. There's nothing telling us "They didn't comply with the neccesary safety measures for aproval" or "They had no emergency plans".

Also this is no easy task and each problem is quite unique. Even the best designed infrastructure or machine can fail and even if the ring had a design flaw that doesn't mean anybody was aware of it.

Apparently, there were no emergency plans, because BP considered this too unlikely to plan for:
Document: BP didn't plan for major oil spill wrote:BP's plan filed with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, says repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."
And while the company conceded that a spill would "cause impacts" to beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it argued that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."


Further investigations will show whether BP was justified in that assumption (after all, unlikely things do happen sometimes). But there are a lot of indications that BP was very, very lax in its approaches to risks. Keep in mind that for the last years, BP was already under heavy criticism because of the high rate of accidents, including deadly accidents, on its US works.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby frezik » Mon May 03, 2010 10:50 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Given the worlds reliance on oil, and the amount we drill, and more impressively, the amount we freight to all corners of the world, I find these disasters to be horrible, mind numbing, and well within the limits of acceptable risk for a given activity.


I have to agree, even given BP's apparently "lax" attitude that Zamfir notes above. BP was well justified in thinking this state of affairs was highly unlikely; several safeties have to fail before something like this could happen.

Politically, rewind to a few weeks ago, and I would have said that environmental concerns about offshore drilling were overblown. Drilling techniques have gotten better and do minimal damage to the local ecology. It's something worth compromising in negotiations to promote alternative energy sources--assuming the Republicans are genuinely interested in compromise. It looked like the Obama Administration was going more or less the same way.

At this point, Drill-Baby-Drill is much harder to justify politically, even if the risk assessments were valid. This is the oil industry equivalent of Chernobyl. (But not Three Mile Island--that'd be like a series of human and mechanical failures ultimately falling into manageable state.) If Republicans insist on deadlocking this issue, it's going to be that much easier for Democrats to make a Party of No narrative in November.
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Tue May 04, 2010 11:13 am UTC

Fume Troll wrote:To have one fail to operate is very unusual. It is possible that an attempt to shear the pipe at one of the threaded connections (which may be too thick for the shear capacity of the BOP) prevented the BOP functioning correctly, but even then, shutting other parts of the BOP would normally have worked.


Not one which has had a known malfunction for 10 years
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Fume Troll » Tue May 04, 2010 11:26 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Fume Troll wrote:To have one fail to operate is very unusual. It is possible that an attempt to shear the pipe at one of the threaded connections (which may be too thick for the shear capacity of the BOP) prevented the BOP functioning correctly, but even then, shutting other parts of the BOP would normally have worked.


Not one which has had a known malfunction for 10 years


A rather misleading statement. A similar system to the one which failed had a problem 10 years ago. I haven't seen any evidence which suggests that:

1. Edited to add: The original BOP was faulty: there's nothing in the article which suggests what form of "not working properly" was being disputed.
2. If 1, the same problem existed with this BOP
3. If 1 and 2, it wasn't fixed in the intervening decade.
4. If 1, 2 and 3, the problem is relevant to this failure.
Last edited by Fume Troll on Tue May 04, 2010 12:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby MartianInvader » Tue May 04, 2010 11:42 am UTC

Um, guys...

1) This sort of thing is very rare, and so it's excusable BP didn't see it coming, so it probably wasn't their fault.

2) This sort of thing is very rare, which is evidence that BP wasn't doing what it should have to prevent it, so it probably was their fault.

Both of these arguments make sense. You can throw them back and forth forever. Maybe we should just wait for an investigation before judging/defending BP on this one, hm?
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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Marquee Moon » Tue May 04, 2010 12:04 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Fume Troll wrote:To have one fail to operate is very unusual. It is possible that an attempt to shear the pipe at one of the threaded connections (which may be too thick for the shear capacity of the BOP) prevented the BOP functioning correctly, but even then, shutting other parts of the BOP would normally have worked.


Not one which has had a known malfunction for 10 years

My god that article is confusing. This is what I've been able to parse: A company Hydril made a faulty "preventer", and sold it to Transocean, which was working in some way with BP. (I think BP was renting a rig owned by Transocean, or maybe vice versa) This was installed in an oil rig called Discover Enterprise, but was later fixed. Discover Enterprise isn't the one that blew up. The one that blew up is called Deepwater Horizon. The company that made the preventer for Deepwater Horizon is called Cameron International. The only way Cameron and Hydril are related is that Cameron purchased part of Hydril (buying shares or something) after both preventers were installed. I see no reason why Hydril making a bad preventer would be reason to worry about the quality of Cameron's preventer. Just because a cork maker somewhere in the world has made a fault cork, that doesn't mean you should start buying screw top wine on that fact alone. (though it is very convenient)

tl;dr I think the article is absolute bullshit.

Edit: sorta ninja'd, but I put a lot of effort into this so I'm posting it anyway.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Fume Troll » Tue May 04, 2010 12:34 pm UTC

Marquee Moon wrote:My god that article is confusing. This is what I've been able to parse: A company Hydril made a faulty "preventer", and sold it to Transocean, which was working in some way with BP.

I haven't seen anything which says the preventer was faulty. That the preventer "not work exactly right" could mean any number of things, and may or may not be safety critical. Usually if there is a contractual dispute like this, it is not safety critical - if it was there would be no dispute. It is more commonly over something being advertised as having a certain capacity, and not being able to achieve that all the time, a bit like buying a Ferrari and then wondering why you can't drive it at 200 mph hour after hour. This may or may not have been the case here, I am just pointing out that it may be even less relevant than it looks.

Marquee Moon wrote:(I think BP was renting a rig owned by Transocean, or maybe vice versa)


Yes, most of the large mobile offshore drilling units are owned by Drilling Contractors like Transocean. BP, Shell, Chevron etc (operators) rent these rigs, and the personnel to operate them, from the drilling contractors.

Marquee Moon wrote: The company that made the preventer for Deepwater Horizon is called Cameron International. The only way Cameron and Hydril are related is that Cameron purchased part of Hydril (buying shares or something) after both preventers were installed. I see no reason why Hydril making a bad preventer would be reason to worry about the quality of Cameron's preventer.


A BOP stack is frequently made up of components from a number of different suppliers. Cameron, Hydril and Varco/Shaffer (now National Oilwell) supply the vast majority of these, especially in the larger sizes required for deepwater operations. Others companies may supply valves, fittings, control systems etc. Usually one of the above three will build these components into one stack, or it may be done by the drilling contractor.

I'm not arguing that BP aren't at fault, I have no idea at this stage. Usually in the oil and gas industry we follow the principle of ALARP, meaning risks that are identified should be controlled and mitigated such that the residual risk shall be as low as reasonably practicable. Reasonably Practiable means that risks must be averted unless there is a gross disproportion between the costs and benefits of doing so. I would be surprised if BP hadn't done this, but note that ALARP doesn't require the residual risk to be zero. If it did, no-one would ever do anything.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby mrpurple » Tue May 04, 2010 1:13 pm UTC

I'm new here, but have been lurking for some time. I know there is a ban on links within the first three posts, but I wanted to add this link to an interview with one of the survivors as it adds some very useful information as to what actually happened, so I beg your indulgence as it looks like there are a couple of people on here who will understand exactly what the guy is talking about. I don't know who he is, but he was on tower at the time and clearly has some well control knowledge so there are only a handful of positions he could be in - mud man, cementer, pusher, driller, AD, um - not much else. Probably not the company man tho'.

It seems they'd set a production liner and were displacing the riser to sea water prior to pulling it. As you would expect, prior to that the BOP had been tested passed, so the question remains as to why it wasn't closed as soon as they took the kick. Also - I understand it's an acoustic BOP so shouldn't need a direct connection to operate. There should be at least 4 control panels on the rig, including one next to the life boats, so why it wasn't operated remains a mystery. Plus it can be operated by an ROV. Whatever went wrong must've been massively catastrophic.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby Fume Troll » Tue May 04, 2010 2:02 pm UTC

Excellent link, thanks for posting that. I agree, there's not many positions he's likely to have been in, certainly a senior guy with good technical knowledge.

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Re: Gulf Coast oil spill may be worse than Exxon Valdez

Postby mrpurple » Tue May 04, 2010 2:53 pm UTC

Fume Troll wrote:Excellent link, thanks for posting that. I agree, there's not many positions he's likely to have been in, certainly a senior guy with good technical knowledge.


Although perhaps not for much longer...

I'm no expert, but as an ex-mudlogger I do have a reasonable working knowledge of what is happening. Correct me if I'm wrong but if a liner had been set and a cemented there shouldn't be any communication between the formation and the well. And anyway - surely there should be enough mud in the hole to control the well even without the riser? However, it seems from what he's saying that gas had got in and migrated up to just below the BOP. So that implies - um - failed seal on the liner hanger perhaps?

I'm also just a little bit surprised disappointed that the initial explosion wasn't more widely reported. 11 men dead hardly rated anything but a passing mention here in the UK until they'd been dead for about 10 days. God bless them, their families and friends.


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