BP’s containment problems, may go further than Oil.

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

BP’s containment problem is unprecedented

The company must stop a relentless gush of oil nearly a mile below the surface, in a situation that hasn’t been dealt with before.

By Jill Leovy, LATimes — April 30, 2010

The problem with the April 20 spill is that it isn’t really a spill: It’s a gush, like an underwater oil volcano. A hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing, black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure nears a ton per inch, impossible for divers to endure. Experts call it a continuous, round-the-clock calamity, unlike a leaking tanker, which might empty in hours or days.

[…]

And “everything is bigger and more difficult the deeper you go,” said Andy Bowen, a research specialist who works with undersea robotics at the Woods Hole center. “Fighting gravity is tough. It increases loads. You need bigger winches, bigger cables, bigger ships.”

An analogy, he said, is the difference between construction work on the ground versus at the top of a mile-high skyscraper.

Gee … sounds kind of Dangerous …

{continuing from page 2 …}

It’s not clear how the explosion happened. But industry experts say natural gas mixed with oil may have leaked up the long “riser,” or pipe, used to encase the drill and extract mud from the well. Natural gas expands as it is released from the seafloor and flows up. It can easily spark and explode.

[…]

The submarines use technology similar to NASA rovers on Mars. A tether connects them to a nearby ship where operators steer them from a control room. The operators are highly skilled, and the subs have robotic arms, so agile and delicate “they could give you three stitches on your forehead,” Reddy said.

But experts say conditions for this work are profoundly difficult. The robots are charged with complex, unplanned mechanical work in deep seas next to a whirl of rising oil. Even if their lights can illuminate more than a couple dozen feet, the subs may be knocked around, and must dodge broken wreckage at the same time.

The biggest hazard is having a robot become entangled in debris, pipes and cable,” said Bowen. “This is a huge industrial accident, and that makes it very difficult for them to operate from above.”

Gee, who could of imagined that?  A very difficult hazard field, of debris, at the site of “a huge industrial accident”?  you don’t say …

The Oil Industry (and their Regulators) must really hire some Rocket Scientists, eh?

{continuing from page 3 …}

The assumption is that an oil-rig perfect storm occurred, very quickly. “There would have been a dozen barriers that had to fail in order for this accident to happen,” said Tim Robertson, an oil-spill consultant with Nuka Research and Planning Group in Alaska.

Perhaps the biggest question, to experts, is why the blowout preventer valves didn’t shut. The huge device, which caps the well, is equipped with emergency systems, including a “dead man’s switch,” a device of last resort that is supposed to be fail-safe.

Hmmmmm?  Good Question.  Why didn’t the blowout preventer valve, why didn’t it shut down that Undersea Volcano, like it was “engineered” to do?

What’s that? — an Industry Insider has been trying to explain, just how this kind of “engineering failure” can happen.

Perhaps BP’s containment problems, do go much further than Oil?  Maybe their safety track record, has been a bit shoddy?  Been “cutting a few costly trivial corners”, have we, now BP?

Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes In Gulf

Reposted on freeinternetpress.com

This article was written by Truthout.org journalist Jason Leopold and appeared on Truthout’s Web site edition for Friday, April 30, 2010.  Mr. Leopold’s article follows:

A former contractor who worked for British Petroleum (BP) claims the oil conglomerate broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, according to internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.

[…]

Last May, Mike Sawyer, a Texas-based engineer who works for Apex Safety Consultants, voluntarily agreed to evaluate BP’s Atlantis subsea document database and the whistleblower’s allegations regarding BP’s engineering document shortfall related to Atlantis. Sawyer concluded that of the 2,108 P&IDs [Piping & Instrument Drawings] BP maintained that dealt specifically with the subsea components of its Atlantis production project, 85 percent did not receive engineer approval.

[…]

“The absence of a complete set of final, up-to-date, ‘as built’ engineering documents, including appropriate engineering approval, introduces substantial risk of large scale damage to the deep water [Gulf of Mexico] environment and harm to workers, primarily because analyses and inspections based on unverified design documents cannot accurately assess risk or suitability for service,” said Sawyer’s report. He added, “there is no valid engineering justification for these violations and short cuts.”

Sawyer explained that the documents in question – welding records, inspections and safety shutdown logic materials – are “extremely critical to the safe operation of the platform and its subsea components.” He said the safety shutdown logic drawings on Atlantis, a complex computerized system that, during emergencies, is supposed to send a signal to automatically shut down the flow of oil, were listed as “requiring update.”

“BP’s recklessness in regards to the Atlantis project is a clear example of how the company has a pattern of failing to comply with minimum industry standards for worker and environmental safety,” said Sawyer.

Hmmmm?  I wonder how that “complex computerized system” is suppose to send that “automatic shut down signal” — when it’s been just blown to smithereens by a Raging Oil Inferno?

And just which wire, is that signal suppose to follow?

And just which circuit board, is suppose to throw that last ditch BOP valve?   There’s a reason why they’re called Catastrophes.

Well the administration has just called it.  There ya go.   Mystery solved!

Salazar: Oil spill ‘massive’ and a potential catastrophe

CNN — May 2, 2010

Asked what happened, Salazar said there was a failure in the technology that is intended to prevent a so-called blowout.

“There is no doubt at all here that that what has happened is the blowout prevention mechanism at the bottom of the well … is defective,” Salazar said.

[…]

The Obama administration has ordered inspections of “blowout preventers” on other Gulf rigs, Salazar said. He noted that BP, which operated the destroyed rig, is legally responsible for the spill and any resulting damage.

Good Plan.  Inspect the BOPs.  Day late, and about a $100 Billion Dollars short.

While you’re at it, have a peek at all those “validated engineering schematics” for the thousands of other Gulf Rigs, too.  See if their “safety shutdown logic materials” — er, seem “Logical”?

In the meantime, maybe we can hire Bruce Willis and his crew of ‘Roughnecks’?  They can take a submersible down to that Gushing Volcano — and give it “what for”, can’t they?  Just pay ’em “triple time”.

Piece of Cake … as easy as, Drill baby, Drill!

Now what could wrong, with that engineering plan? — Not a darn thing.

7 comments

Skip to comment form

    • jamess on May 4, 2010 at 1:15 am
      Author

    Unsafe at any Depth!

    • Edger on May 4, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Poor hard done by BP. They should have thought about that before they drilled.

    But thinking is profoundly difficult, I guess… much easier to give drugs and hookers to the people writing the oil drilling regulations, while buying off the politicians.

  1. required in Brazil and Norway, but not in the US.

    The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn’t needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.

    wall st journal

    http://online.wsj.com/article/

  2. They were supposed to have emergency shut off valves installed? Is that what this thing is in this box over here?

    But they’re expensive, and “nobody ever dreamed that something like this could happen.”

    Do you mean to tell me that there was no planning for this scenario? Yep, that’s what it looks like. There is no containment plan for this scenario. They are flying by the seat of their pants.

    But yet they can speculate how we will handle an asteroid strike.

  3. I wonder how that “complex computerized system” is suppose to send that “automatic shut down signal” — when it’s been just blown to smithereens by a Raging Oil Inferno?

    reminds me of this (starting @ 1:07)…

    “All the radio equipment is out including the CRM-114.  I think the auto destruct mechanism got hit and blew itself up.”

Comments have been disabled.