Saturday, June 26, 2010

WSJ: BP used riskier design

The Wall Street Journal reported last week a rather interesting story on how BP used a cheaper and riskier design:

"In recent years, oil giant BP PLC used a well design that has been called "risky" by Congressional investigators in more than one out of three of its deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico, significantly more often than most peers, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.

The design was used on the well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing 11 workers and causing America's worst offshore oil spill. The only other major well design, which is more expensive, includes more safeguards against a natural-gas blowout of the kind that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon.

A Journal analysis of records provided by the U.S. Minerals Management Service shows that BP used the less costly design—called "long string"—on 35% of its deepwater wells since July 2003, the earliest date the well-design data were available....

Other big drillers use long-string design less frequently than BP, according to the Journal's data analysis. Royal Dutch Shell PLC used long string designs on 8% of its wells and Chevron Corp. on 15%. Australian firm BHP Billiton PLC used long string on 4% of its wells....

The long-string design is cheaper because a single pipe runs the length of the well and can be installed in one step. But it also can create a dangerous pathway for natural gas to rise unchecked outside the pipe.

The alternative, known as liners, is seen as safer because it has more built-in places to prevent oil or gas from flowing up the well uncontrolled. "There are more barriers, and the barriers are easier to test," says Gene Beck, an engineer and professor at Texas A&M University..."

The other method, known as "liner tieback," is more complex and costlier. First, a section of pipe called a liner is placed at the bottom of the well and cemented into place, creating an extra barrier to prevent natural gas from rising to the surfa
ce. Typically, another pipe is connected to the liner to create a pipe to the surface."

Think everyone else uses this design? Guess again:

"Chevron's head of North American exploration and production, Gary Luquette, said Chevron typically avoids long-string design because it offers fewer layers of protection. "You can make choices early on to cut costs, slim down your project to make it economic today and have dire consequences down the road, or you can build in that reliability and philosophy of dependability up front and save yourself a lot of headaches in the future," Mr. Luquette said."

Marvin Odum, president of Shell's U.S. operations, said Shell doesn't use a long string for high-risk wells. Shell said many of the times it used long strings in deepwater wells, either it hadn't encountered high pressures in the well, or the well was in an area where Shell had drilled and was comfortable with the conditions. "When it is a high-pressure, deepwater well, we only have one way of doing that way, and that is with a liner tieback. Period," he says
." Article

I'm bringing this article to your attention because more than a few think we should ban all deep-water offshore drilling. While some are against almost any form of energy production, it makes more sense to examine the techniques used in this operation.


Anonymous said...

That's a good one King. I've got friends in the oil exploration business, including one that is directly involved with the technology being used aboard the relief wells to "steer" the drill bit to the place it needs to go. They have families, and don't believe they are risking their lives going out on these platforms.

Paul Mitchell said...

There are always risks inherent whenever something is built. These risks include human danger as well as environmental danger.

People that do not want to deepwater drill should petition the government to allow drilling in ANWR and off the coast of California. The oil companies have to drill where the ALMIGHTY federal government allows them to drill.

The thing that is really screwing me up with those that do not want oil drilling anywhere for any reason. Those people are wanting to live in caves and live like animals.

Kingfish said...

As usual you ignore the post and go right into your pre-programmed agenda.

When BP is using a design no one else uses in that situation and its riskier, then perhaps its legitimate to ask if the design should have been used.

Paul Mitchell said...

Yes, BP tried to save money, such is the nature of business. long string is NOT unheard of, it is in your post. Are you advocating being mad at BP?

Government regulations are in place to set the MINIMUM standard but wind up setting the maximum. Businesses bribe government officials because that is the purpose of government.

BP is no more dangerous a drilling company than any of the others. Do they have MORE accidents and of greater import?

Three exempted inspections and a safety award on the wall of a rig at the bottom of the Gulf? Who is at fault?

The federal government gambled with our safety and the federal government LOST, costing everyone.

KaptKangaroo said...

I find it interesting what Shell has to say. If you look at the Best Oil Co. out there, I would have to put Shell up there. I've looked into their practices and these guys are very strategic when it comes to issues like this. They have examined this issue seven ways to Sunday and it appears from the comment made the right decision. They understand the inherent risks and they understand that saving a buck today can cost you billions in the future. Looks like BP skipped that class in Scenario Planning 101.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, why do you snipe out at your commenters? It's such a nasty tone you have.

Kingfish said...

He's a friend of mine and I'm giving him a hard time.

Paul Mitchell said...

That's a hard time?

Who's throwing paper?

Anonymous said...

You are Paul.

When corporations calculate the value of expected risk of death and the accompanying lawsuit costs as a part of their decision making, something has gone terribly wrong with capitalism.

And, even the sociopathic CEO who is willing to take the risk, knows, like the criminal, when you " do the crime, you do the time". Only for the CEO, it's just a minor personal business expense instead of hard time.

Let's see traitors and terrorist damage the economic security of our Nation and are willing to kill Americans to achieve their goals.

Are you saying that when it's done for monetary profit rather than a political or religious agenda it's AOK with you>

Paul Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Mitchell said...

Nope, I am saying Obama got paid and he looked the other way. BP did business the Democrat way. Having to pay off government employees to perform your job is by definition, NOT capitalism.

Point fingers, but point them toward the cause, anti-business Democrats.

Anonymous said...

ROFL...PAUL...EVEN if we assume that is true, who PAID? No money, no corruption. You CANNOT be THAT DENSE!

Paul Mitchell said...

Anon, it is hardly new news that Barry Obama was the recipient of the most campaign cash from BP received by any candidate. I am sorry, but modernist's Occam's Razor applies.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line here is the MMS allowed BP to operate in this unsafe manner and BP assumed the risk, (which we are all paying for). The fed can simply not allow this type operations in the future.

Paul Mitchell said...

Anon, this is incorrect. The federal government is the only one that we actually point to with any definitive proof that they were at fault. The materials could have been faulty, and we have no idea from where they came, YET. The workmanship could have been substandard, and we have no idea who performed the work, YET. (I guarantee that it was a subcontractor.) The government was responsible for licensing adn inspection of materials and the methods. The list is endless of who can be blamed, but BP is probably the very least of them.

That said, I am not defending BP in the least, I hate the Brits, but saying they are at fault is at best a spurious claim.

Anonymous said...

MMS approved the drilling plan with the substandard casing, MMS approved the casing hanger quantity, (which allowed the casing to shift, which caused the poor cement bond), MMS allowed the drilling mud to be returned overboard, (the returns couldn't me monitored so they didn't know they had gas in the annulus), MMS approved several exceptions to the drill plan. Am I missing something here? If MMS allows these substandard methods and they fail, I say MMS is as much at fault as BP. Wonder why the head of MMS resigned and the agency is going through a reorg? Hmm, makes me wonder. BTW, subcontractors do all the work offshore, at the direction of the operating company, (in this case BP).

Anonymous said...

OH PAUL...your position is that BP could not possibly have chosen to drill in the safest manner...they " bribe" government because they "must" ( that includes giving money to BOTH candidates and piling on when the likely winner becomes obvious)
Sure the government inspectors ( who all hope to get a job with those they are inspecting at more pay) have responsibility.
SO did the BUSH administration when BP was found violating regulations over and over ( including the Houston explosion) and nothing was done.

BLAMING ONE PARTY when BOTH parties turned a blind eye is why I say " the difference between a Republican and Democrat who pockets my tax dollars" and the " true believers"( who are laughed at in the upper echelons of politics) either hope to get some of it or are naive beyond belief.
Oh, I forgot during the years of Republican control of Congress, Executive, and a majority of Supremes, we got to pray in schools and abortion was banned and the budget was balanced and illegal immigration stopped being a problem.

Paul Mitchell said...

Safest manner? Taking safety factors into account is KINDA what I do for a living. We can design a building that will withstand a nuclear blast and we can force everyone to do that. But, no one could afford it. Having not wasted my time blaming BP after finding out all of the corruption and under the table dealings surrounding this president regarding the sequence of events of this particular rig at this drilling location, I find it silly to talk about BP.

If the Deepwater drilling technique was unsafe, Barry Obama should have stopped it. He did no such thing.

That's my opinion, but ignoring Obama's utter hands on up until the explosion and then his utter disappearance immediately after, makes someone with half a brain perk up the gray matter.

He is the smartest president we ever had and maybe he thinks that we do not need the Gulf of Mexico anymore. His administration has certainly pulled out all the stops to keep the oil from being collected or burned off.

But, let's blame BP, otherwise it is racist.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Geez Paul, if safety is your business, you know there's a difference between doing a good job and cutting corners. No one is demanding perfection just industry standards.
You nicely ignore BPs safety record during the Bush administration to make this partisan when some of us realize the problem is not unique to this administration.
I'm not happy with this administration either or the way it has addressed this disaster, but suggesting THIS problem is unique to THIS administration and started with THIS administration is ridiculous.
Such nonsense doesn't help the RNC either. The reason Obama got elected is the people both parties need to win a national election are sick of this blame game and would like to see ISSUES remember...CHANGE...REFORM.
People don't trust government, but Wall Street and corporations haven't proven trustworthy either!
Ayn Rand has been proven wrong. She thought pride and honor would trump greed and result in self-regulation. She thought selfishness a good thing and we see it's not. Live with it.

Paul Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Mitchell said...

Anon 7:57, concern with one's own business is not good? Wow. I am glad that you told me that, I would have never guessed in a million years.

I am so done with this BP topic and trying to blame Bush for it. Bush has been gone since January 2009. Can't we focus on Obama punting the baseball around the outfield for 18 months now?

By the way, this hole in the Gulf was started in February 2010, a full THIRTEEN months after Bush was gone.

Obama failed, it is time for him to resign before he destroys the whole planet simply to increase his personal wealth by taking bribes. Joe FREAKING Biden is a genius by comparison.

KaptKangaroo said...


Most of the time I ignore your rants, in this case I must say you ound worse than the Bush blamist and the Obama apologists. You call for resignation is sophmoric and beneath your usual low brow diatribe.


Paul Mitchell said...

Feh, KK, he should go and everyone knows it, too. Obama makes Carter look competent.

KaptKangaroo said...

And all the Bush appointed MMS staff is now working for Oil companies. Did you not read any of the facts surrounding the drug consuming, hooker cooing, guaranteed a job when you get fired a job officials who resigned immediately when this info surfaced? The statement that the Govt was at fault flies in the face of you many previos positions that "regulation" is bad. And I would add, if they did in fact bribe the Bushie appointies working under the Obama admin; it would appear to me they committed a terrorist act against the sovreign US by bribing a public official to look the other way while they sneak in the weapon to destroy the Gulf.

Paul Mitchell said...

I agree KK, Obama SHOULD resign. Good point.

KaptKangaroo said...

My point is BP bribed them, you ass.

Paul Mitchell said...

Oh, sorry, I simply assume that people are as intelligent as I am. I shall never make that assumption with you again, KK. Thanks for the clarification.

KaptKangaroo said...

Them being your beloved Bush regulators.

KaptKangaroo said...

I forget Paul; it's been so long since I actually paid attention to you.... everything must be spelled out for you to understand your own contradictions and, in general, the points people make in the face of your arguments. You are maybe smarter than a third grader, so I will dumb it down for you in the future.

Paul Mitchell said...

Thanks KK, that will be a stretch for you, though. Why not make it a second grader? You will not have to reach so high.

My e-mail is on my blog, KK, if insulting me is what you want.

Geez. I need to stop commenting here and just let the utterly misinformed, like KK, take over, huh?

Anonymous said...

Paul, you continue to respond to statements NOT made (" concern with one's own business is not good") and ignore issues raised ( BPs safety record). That is a political marketing technique but a rather tiresome and transparent one.
Then you state the irrelevant obvious ( when the drilling began). Does this mean the Houston explosion is Bush's fault? I don't think that is true other than "the buck stops here".
You seem to believe that a business can't succeed without shoddy safety procedures or reducing quality.
My father managed to be a very successful businessman without "nickel and diming" at the expense of the public or consumer or by valuing the role of his employees in his success. And, he is NOT alone. You insult all those in business by defending the unethical business practices that are driven by short term profits without any regard to the long term health of the business or the community in which it exists.
Some of us realize that our behavior doesn't exist in a vacuum but has consequence beyond ourselves.

Paul Mitchell said...

Anon 9:25, someone mentioned "selfish," that means "concern with one's own interest." That is called a "definition." It comes from the "dictionary."

I am ignoring nothing in this case. Our government took bribes from BP to allow the drilling to happen. BP (as well as other companies) is already forced to drill in deep water because our government will not allow drilling elsewhere. And in order to simply conduct business, they have to bribe the government.

I am self-employed. That addresses all of your rambling nonsense about business practices. We are talking about our Gulf of Mexico being ruined by government corruption and you want to talk about your daddy? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Paul, if I didn't know any better, you are SouthernBelle, and your trolling not regular commenters here is fine. Stop throwing around stupid comments and you won't feel so stupid.

KaptKangaroo said...

Paul. It sounds like, if I read you correctly throughout this post, you support the regulation of the Oil Industry, if they were not bribed and it happened under Bush.

It also appears, that you support no regulation of the industry and they should be able to police themselves.

Given your contradictions above, it would appear MORE regulation needs to be placed on these practices.

Oh, and BTW, the MMS folks should be tried for treason for accepting bribes. Obama should, like McChrystal, insist on ensuring our sovereign nation is not subject to the actions of a few appointed individuals selfish whims.

Paul Mitchell said...

Anon 9:47, my name is Paul Mitchell. That is who I am. I addressed no one in this thread until I was attacked by a nameless, faceless Anon. Sorry if you think that my comments are stupid, that simply means that you do not have the intelligence to question your government. You know, something that is inherent in the founding of this country.

If my statements seem stupid to you, that means that you are not cynical of your master's actions.

This thread has dissolved into nothing but personal attacks on me, and y'all ignore the post. Again, my e-mail is on my sidebar at my blog if insulting me is what you want to do. But, y'all probably need to get back to class or whatever you do during the Summer.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh - I think you two need a timeout in your rooms.

KaptKangaroo said...

Waaaaa....I'm being personally attacked...waaaaaaa....see the personal attacks inherent in the thread...I'm being oppressed, see the personal attacks inherent in the system...

Get a thicker skin. And learn to keep your rants on the same side of the fence.

Paul Mitchell said...


KaptKangaroo said...

Thank you. Now who a sense of humor?

Paul Mitchell said...

Um, huh? I am too stupid to understand your mastery of the English language.

KaptKangaroo said...

Forgive me, I am writing from an iPhone and sometimes it auto selects.

I'm being attacked...stop...please...waaaaa

KaptKangaroo said...

And, i guess i no dumb it down enuff 4 u paul.

Anonymous said...

Paul, there is not only nothing in my comments that indicates a trust of government but specific comments to the contrary.

You continue to reply to remarks not made.

You left out " to the exclusion of any other interests" in your definition.

It's a little inconsistent to think it's ok for you to act in your selfish interest to profit but the politicians should be more honorable and not act in their selfish interest? Or, only businessman are not lured by greed and only politicians and bureaucrats are?

Come on , Paul, I hope you are just a partisan guy arguing out of Lee Atwater's playbook.

And, by the way, there's a difference is saying an argument or point is stupid and personal attack. Develop some thicker skin, would you?

Paul Mitchell said...

I left out "to the exclusion of any other interests" in my definition because that is not what selfish means.

Anonymous said...

Paul, English words often have more than one usuage and dictionaries aren't the same.

I actually thought your name was a flippant use of the hair product line, but how lucky you are to be " self employed" with the certainty you will lose no business because of your opinions and your family will not be saddled with the assumption they agree with your every utterance.

But, if you , like Rand, worship at the alter of selfishness, then it wouldn't matter how your actions affected others anyway.

Paul Mitchell said...

I am Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I can't begin to reconcile the Rand philosophy where she specifically argues selfishness is good and the end justifies the means. Catholicism argues the means are important and your faith supports notion of the nobility of " vows of poverty".
It's not ok with your church to place a baby's life at risk at risk through medical treatments or procedures on the mother or even to prevent human life from forming, but it's ok to risk human life by taking actions that simply increase profit? The " greater good" is money and comfort?

Paul Mitchell said...

I am unaware of any place in Catholic doctrine that asks me to be poor. Of course, I have only been Catholic for 45 years and do not read the New York Times.

It is not okay with anyone that is not gruesome to kill an unborn child. Even NARAL says abortion should be "rare." There exists not a single human being that thinks that abortion is good, but there are plenty of people that will have them because they are "selfish" by your definition.

I am unsure what this has to do with Obama's criminal behavior regarding the Deepwater Horizon accident, though. Has he been indicted for his corruption YET? Or is he too busy praising a Klansman, today?

Anonymous said...

You brought your Catholicism up...I'm not surprised you weren't encouraged to be a priest or join an order...not your role models..but way to ignore the " means/end".
The point is Paul, you seem to want to whitewash BPs criminal behavior and ignore the limitations of ANY presidency.
I only fault Bush for appointing an incompetent head of FEMA. Obama has been indecisive and sent mixed messages on the oil spill and failed to establish a clear chain of command.
You, on the other hand, see the world in partisan terms. Republicans do no wrong and Democrats always are...while I wish to hell both parties were more competent and put the Nation first instead of their political egos.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Paul...that the party of Strom Thurmond, that developed " the Southern strategy" and that courts the White Citizens Council brings up Byrd's KKK past is the kind of hypocrisy that brought me to say " a pox on both their houses".
I agree with Louis Black, partisans must be delusional!

Paul Mitchell said...

Anon, the only reason I said that I was Catholic is because you said that I worshiped at the altar of selfishness.

You really have no clue what you are talking about with the "Party of Strom Thurmond" comment, do you? Admit it. You should do a little research before you form an opinion, Mr/Mrs/Other Non-Partisan.

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