Halliburton: We Worked to Spec

As oil continues to gush into the Gulf, I’ve been haunted by the statement Halliburton put out about the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Here’s the statement, dated April 30, in its entirety.

Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) confirmed today its continued support of, and cooperation with, the ongoing investigations into the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month. Halliburton extends its heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends and our industry colleagues of the 11 people lost and those injured in the tragedy.

As one of several service providers on the rig, Halliburton can confirm the following:

  • Halliburton performed a variety of services on the rig, including cementing, and had four employees stationed on the rig at the time of the accident. Halliburton’s employees returned to shore safely, due, in part, to the brave rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations.
  • Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours prior to the incident. The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications.
  • In accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers, tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed.
  • At the time of the incident, well operations had not yet reached the point requiring the placement of the final cement plug which would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well, consistent with normal oilfield practice.
  • We are assisting with planning and engineering support for a wide range of options designed to secure the well, including a potential relief well.

Halliburton continues to assist in efforts to identify the factors that may have lead up to the disaster, but it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues.

Halliburton originated oilfield cementing and leads the world in effective, efficient delivery of zonal isolation and engineering for the life of the well, conducting thousands of successful well cementing jobs each year. The company views safety as critical to its success and is committed to continuously improve performance. [my emphasis]

HAL’s first concern, in its statement, was to invoke “its cooperation” in the investigation. Only after that did it mention the casualties from the explosion. Then, it described (sort of) its role on the rig, stating that their work was:

  • Consistent with that utilized in other similar applications
  • In accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers
  • Consistent with normal oilfield practice

You get the feeling that HAL wants to cement (heh) the impression that everything it was doing on the rig was all standard practice? You get the feeling that HAL wants you to know that everything they were doing on the rig had been approved by BP?

And it took them a full week to come up with that statement.

All of which leads me to wonder whether–though mind you, I’m just wondering–HAL (which did, after all, originate oilfield cementing) did something that may well have met BP’s specifications, but which HAL, with its expert knowledge of what it should do in conditions like those at the Deepwater Horizon site, might be rethinking. That is, the tone and content of their statement suggests HAL is preparing a defense that it met spec, regardless of whether that spec was appropriate to the conditions involved.

170 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    conducting thousands of successful well cementing jobs each year.

    That’s great, just great but how many were at 5000′ and what additional precautions did they make to accommodate the the extreme pressure at that depth? Since curing cement generates heat was there any thought of the increased pressure on increased heat generation at 20,000# per square inch?

    • brendanx says:

      The supposed attraction of offshore drilling off places like Virginia was to be that it’d be too far from shore to be a nuisance.

    • Adam503 says:

      There are concrete submarines.


      I was kinda surprised to be honest. Concrete would not rust. That a legit advantage to considering materials that are going to be in a place where you cannot maintain it.

      My dad had a PhD in what was metallurgical engineering and is now called materials engineering. I’m not the expert, though. I can only say it sounds like a decision is going to get argued about in materials engineering textbooks for a long time to come.

      • PierceNichols says:

        Concrete doesn’t rust, but it does require reinforcement… which is usually steel. It’s possible to seal the steel to keep it from rusting, but it’s tricky. Ask anyone foolish enough to buy a ferrocement boat.

        • Rayne says:

          And rust accelerates in the presence of salts; rust expands as it forms, stressing the re-bar and then cracking the concrete.

          I remember a particular plasticizing additive which was removed from the market because it did the same thing to re-bar in concrete and mortar.

          Wonder what Halliburton was using in the way of additives in their concrete…

        • PJEvans says:

          Go down to your local parking lot and look at the rebar that the parking bumpers are pinned on, or at steel railings on concrete stairs and walks.
          The metal rusts, the rust expands, the concrete cracks, and voila! broken non-rusting concrete.

          The other fun one is salt in rocks and sand used in the concrete – it weakened the bond, and the concrete goes to pieces. They have to do a really thorough wash job on the aggregate, if they want the roads to last.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As in bridges, it’s the typically steel reinforcing that rusts and degrades the ability of the assembled structure to bear its design or performance loads, because it is the reinforcing that efficiently distributes loads throughout the structure. Wire cables in a suspension bridge perform a similar function.

  2. klynn says:

    HAL is preparing a defense that it met spec, regardless of whether that spec was appropriate to the conditions involved.

    That would be the most disrespectful defense on the planet.

    But I see where you are going with your thought.

    Just plain sick.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Very common defense strategy. I agree with bmaz, this is where they are heading.

      And unless their work wasn’t up to spec, it’ll probably work well enough to prevent any criminal charges or punitive damages.

      I wonder if there should be a court order preserving the ROV camera recordings.

      Boxturtle (Not that I think anything might be happening to the evidence at the bottom)

      • klynn says:

        (Not that I think anything might be happening to the evidence at the bottom)

        Good thing I appreciate dark humor!

          • klynn says:


            BTW, what is quite interesting in this statement is to project the BP HAL relationship IRT all their offshore rigs. The relationship is so tight, it’s difficult to tell them apart as separate corps function-wise.

            I am somewhat surprised this was not boilerplate and ready to go ASAP. Any way a week is a bit odd. The lawyers for both all must have been in a room figuring how to mitigate for one another.

            • BoxTurtle says:

              If anybody really cares for a list, just file a FOIA with the government. They’ll have ’em all cronologically and in context. One place I’m certain is being hoovered is FDL.

              Boxturtle (besides, they’re really just an expression of a pathological need to always have the last word)

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, that’s why I put up the BP vid. Unless they can credibly claim this was an act of god, they’re going to go after each other on liability. And I’m betting money that HAL’s response is that BP told it to do what it did, whether or not HAL thought that was safe.

      • Twain says:

        Governor Good Hair has already said it was an Act of God so it’s settled – no more need to worry. s/ Isn’t it strange that these Bible thumpers with family values always blame God for the bad stuff?

        • emptywheel says:

          That’s another reason this HAL statement has haunted me. Why is Perry jumping to that point so quickly, unless he has concerns that either of his TX bigwig companies are at risk?

          Of course if the tides change he also might change his tune.

          • BoxTurtle says:

            They ARE at risk. Even if the companies involved avoid punative damages and criminal penalties, the comp damages alone will run over $10B and that’s if they stopped the leak while I was typing. Somebody is gonna pay, likely several somebodies.

            And BP at least is not going to be able to avoid punitive damages IMO, if for no other reason than that non-existant disaster plan. Heck, the legal costs along could run $100M.

            Boxturtle (Large numbers of Lawyers are ordering expensive sports cars as we type)

            • emptywheel says:

              Yep, but I AM interested in how he changes his tune gracefully if the tides shift. He did wait until it was projected to hit LA, AL, and possibly both coasts of FL before he said it.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Is it not premature for the esteemed Gov. Perry to engage in irresponsible speculation?

            • greenharper says:

              Perhaps. Much better to wait a week or so to engage in irresponsible speculation….

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Except that the tenther, secession-selling governor from Texas seems to be stating a fact, not asking pertinent questions or critiquing early public claims that in large-scale disasters are frequently proven wrong.

          • Hmmm says:

            That’s another reason this HAL statement has haunted me. Why is Perry jumping to that point so quickly, unless he has concerns that either of his TX bigwig companies are at risk?

            That does jump out, doesn’t it? Does TX itself have any role in the regulation, plan review, or inspection of this rig or similar rigs?

            • emptywheel says:

              Dunno, but the AGs of the affected states are asking for a list of what BP is liable for and what not, now. I suspect you might get the AGs and the Govs (or at least Goodhair) on different sides of a suit, like you’ve got with health care.

  3. Jkat says:

    the problem as i see it is precisely that halliburton’s engineers are possibly the foremost experts in the world when it comes to down-hole frac-ing .. acidizing and cementing .. and the nature of the failure isn’t to do with [imo] the cementing job … but everthing to do with the blow-out preventer which either malfunctioned initially or was damaged when the drill string fell over as the drilling platform sank ..

    the BOP’s . in one mode .. seal off around the drill pipe going through it.. and in another mode is supposed to be capable of cutting right through the piping effecting a last ditch seal of the well if it can’t be controlled top side ..

    anyone will be hard pressed to find experts to testify one way or another who have more epertise than halliburton .. as they say .. they invented the process ..as well as many others which have ..over the years become standard oil field operating and production procedures …

    imo ..everything points to the BOP .. had it worked as it’s supposed to ..in either normal or emegency mode .. none of this would be happening ..

    • alan1tx says:

      Your response isn’t very anti-Halliurtony. It just identifies facts and seems to originate from a knowledge of the industry.

      That doesn’t make for a very good conspiracy theory.

      • emptywheel says:

        I guess you missed the earlier post where I said I had worked with a mud company that HAL since ate up in the 1990s, among other oil clients?

        • alan1tx says:

          Yes, missed that one. Sorry.

          But as I posted, Jkat’s post had much more information and much less inuendo.

          I understand most of the readers here like Halliburton-bashing more than information, so you made a good post. I just wanted to give props to Jkat so he wouldn’t get discouraged from posting at FDL.

          • bmaz says:

            most of the readers here like Halliburton-bashing more than information

            You are certainly adroit at uttering glittering generalities that make you look like an ass.

      • Jkat says:

        yes alan .. IrA.MSME w/20yrs previously in the awl patch [but not since ’92] .. not to mention being practically raised on the drilling floor of baker and taylor’s rig #2..

        and .. imo .. the root cause is almost certainly the ongoing failure of the blow out preventer ..

  4. zAmboni says:

    IAMAEngineer, but I have to agree. Almost sounds like they are hedging on whether or not the mixture they used was appropriate for the depth of the well they were cementing.

    Ya, I get the feeling that they are saying BP signed off on everything and that they were only doing SOP, but the way I read that statement. Hal is saying “Well we really aren’t sure if the stuff we put down there was actually up to spec, but BP signed off on it so it must have been OK.”

    Also: “tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed”….but did the tests show the casings were up to spec? Just because the casing was in place and holding (for the moment), doesn’t mean that it was up to spec and did not need to be torn out and replaced/reinforced”

    • emptywheel says:

      IAMAEngineer, but I have to agree. Almost sounds like they are hedging on whether or not the mixture they used was appropriate for the depth of the well they were cementing.

      We know the blowout happened as they were switching over from mud (which is what is engineered to counterbalance the pressure of the gas in the well) to sea-water. So it may not be mixture, per se, but when they switched over to sea-water that is the problem.

      Or something like that. The effect of the cement on any impurities in the well may also be a factor.

    • emptywheel says:

      And good to see you, btw. I FINALLY went to that Philly Steak place on Michigan you told me about years ago. It was very very good, though it took 5 days for my heart to start beating again. Just like it’s supposed to be.

      • librty says:

        Jim’s Steak – City of Brotherly Love

        Best Place for Cheese-Steak on the Planet

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Standard corporate legal defenses press report. All work approved by a client, who was fully informed of its risks and benefits. All work met industry standards. No one could have predicted, yada, yada, yada. If anybody did screw up, no one could tell which of several service providers did it, so you can’t blame us.

    None of that is about examining what happened, what went wrong, what Hal knew but didn’t tell its client, etc. It has nothing about follow-through, leaving open whether it was Hal’s or BP’s job to do it. And nothing about safety measures and back-up plans, the kind of plans within plans planning so well-known to engineers, politicos and lobbyists who routinely engage in high-risk operations.

    It also includes the “shit happens” defense regarding injuries, death and damage. If so, clean-ups and pay-outs are routine and expected. That gives Congress a green light to impose an industry-wide resource protection and recovery levy, tax or surcharge. Or just gut the industry’s plethora of tax subsidies and giveaways.

    I’d collect about $30 billion for starters, with no concessions or pre-agreed regulatory or tax compromises, and get cracking on clean-up plans while keeping a demanding eye on efforts to cap this deadly spill. Congress will have plenty of time tomorrow to sort out what really went wrong and what needs to change in this and other on- and offshore rigs.

    • Synoia says:

      Require then to purchase insurance, instead of being “self-insured”.

      We’d then see what a skilled third party, the insurance company, believed is the potential cost of the risks.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Insurance requires a solvent insurer; there aren’t many of those around and the rates they would charge now will be astronomical. Better to skip that step and cost altogether and establish a government sinking fund.

        • Synoia says:

          Just so. The Insurers would charge so high a premium as to stop the practice. As they do for nuclear power stations.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            BP has to be declared legally liable before it would have to pay for this particular disaster, and then only up to various federal and or state caps on damages. And less, if uninformed private parties or too-cooperative governments settle for less.

            Since these catastrophes are predictable and hugely costly, but we claim to be unable to do without the commodity this industry produces, industry liability for them should be strict and money paid up front. The legislation EW cites isn’t designed to do that; it is designed to protect the industry through unreasonable damage caps and a still convoluted dispute resolution process.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If you send this stuff out too soon, no one reads it, it gets lost in the angst or suggests things are worse than they appear or have been publicly admitted. These things need to look considered, responsibly restrained and apparently forthright.

        They are anything but forthright, but that’s the characteristic they are meant to convey in the corporate apology industry. And as you know, since J&J’s Tylenol scare, the business of devising, issuing and managing corporate apologies has become an industry, discussed even in the august pages of the HBR.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Hal and BP don’t have to be “at fault” in a negligent or reckless way. They are engaging in inherently risky and dangerous behavior, to obtain a commodity they sell at enormous profit.

    While it would be useful to know if they were at fault in some way, that would not seem to be necessary to make them and their industry pay the tab here. But collect the money now, as a regulatory matter, to cover the costs of this and future spills. Expecting the civil justice system adequately to compensate for costs and damages, while waiting ten to twenty years to work, would be wasteful and quite possibly futile. Government is not inherently bad; it is bad when it fails to do its job.

    • emptywheel says:

      Lots of discussion of negligence and passing the (literally) buck in the Oil Pollution Act, which is what otherwise limits their liability to $75 million. Like this:

      as provided in subparagraph (B), in any case in which
      a responsible party establishes that a discharge or threat
      of a discharge and the resulting removal costs and damages
      were caused solely by an act or omission of one or
      more third parties described in section 1003(a)(3) (or solely
      by such an act or omission in combination with an act of
      God or an act of war), the third party or parties shall be
      treated as the responsible party or parties for purposes of
      determining liability under this title.

      Gov Goodhair Perry, of course, has already concluded it was an Act of God. Though that would be the safe thing to say for both BP (US HQ in Houston, world HQ in London) and HAL (w/parts of HQ in Houston and Dubai), in case either was negligent.

      • bmaz says:

        And layer on top of all that the fact each of the pertinent concerns is going to have indemnification and assumption of risk and defense provisions. In the end it boils down to facts and interpretation by the trier of law (court) and trier of fact (jury). This is all preliminary dance for consumption by the court of public opinion; the real legal niceties are not even close to starting..

        • qweryous says:

          Might it be necessary to retroactively ‘smooth the waters’ in regards to the damages and cleanup costs in this case?

          Could it be that there are some executive branch or barnacle branch pronouncements that have been issued only to those with a need to know?

          At some point the run up in crude prices might have exceeded the ‘comfortable line of increase’ and been thought to negatively impact the 2006 and 2008 election efforts due to public perceptions of profiteering by the oil industry and their friends.

          The posturing by the ‘act of god’ party and its sycophants may have more than teevee time behind it. If ‘its not really their fault’, then why ‘tax them’ with an ‘unfair tax’ imposed by lawyers, regulators, and environmentalists?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Agreed. This is about managing public perception – and as an aid in helping Congress and the White House do nothing.

          The claims simply need to be “not inconsistent” with later legal claims and defenses, the list of which will take longer to recite than the length of recovery efforts after the Torrey Canyon disaster, a Liberian registered ship then operated by, um, BP.

          I think one of my favorite defenses there, unavailable to BP here, was the attempt to tender to the court the value of the wrecked hull as the limit of damages. Fortunately, that attempt failed.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        My point is to dissociate a resource recovery charge from this and other legislation. The industry profits enormously from its high-risk operations. Make them strictly liable as an industry for the damage they cause. Collect money ahead of time and use it when these things come up. They will again.

        Separate that process from the need to perform failure analysis on systems, products and people; that should be done, of course, but having the money and plans in hand to recover from predictable large-scale disasters should not be dependent on or wait for those analyses to work their way through engineering, corporate and political filters.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Legislation otherwise known as the oil industry protection racket. Only one harmful actor, and it gets off for less than the industry spends annually on lobbying at some of DC’s finest restaurants and suburban houses of fun.

  7. dakine01 says:

    One little thing for my $.02:
    Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and operating to “spec” do NOT equate to Best Industry Practices and actually operating safely

    • Jkat says:

      Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and operating to “spec” do NOT equate to Best Industry Practices and actually operating safely

      in terms of offshore operations .. i don’t think you’d find a difference between the two .. when everyone aboard’s life is at stake even idiots tend to be very careful … let’s not villanize everyone who does this for a living as if they are slipshod and shabby..

  8. Jkat says:

    halliburton’s own literature and sales data covers the idea very throughly that there is always a danger present .. even on dry land and shallow applications ..

    BUT .. even if they got a bad cement job .. imo ..there’s no way that alone could have affected the BOP in such a way to prevent it from operating in the final fail-safe mode [where the jaw and sealing tools in the lower segment of the BOP cut directly through the drill stem and come together thereby sealing the wellhead and sacrificing the drill string..]

    and BoxT .. while the evidence isn’t going anywhere ..i don’t think anyone will ever get a look at it … even if they are successful drilling an intercept hole and sealing it off .. [a 97% certainty imo] i don’t think anyone would ever bring the old BOP up .. it’s bolted to the original wellhead casing and afterthey get this baby sealed off ..no one is going to want the liability of disturbing anything … all i know for certain is the BOP had to fail in emergency mode aplication for this incident to have occurred ..

    if you’ve seen the graphics of where the leaks are ..they are from the drill string end and at breaks in the piping .. none of them are coming from the wellhead area .. so the BOP certainly and demonstrably sealed in what they call the “annular” application .. [i.e. around the drill string itself ] ..but also .. Q.E.D. has failed thus far to function in fail-safe mode ..

  9. Synoia says:

    On a positive note, for the Oil Companies, after they have killed off all the wildlife in and around the Gulf, they could continue drilling with impunity, as there would be no further environmental impact.

    Problem solved! /s

  10. ShotoJamf says:

    Halliburton continues to assist in efforts to identify the factors that may have lead up to the disaster, but it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues.

    In other words, we’re huddling with our lawyers to find the best possible way to deflect blame away from Halliburton and onto someone – anyone – else.

    These are such evil fucks.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Irresponsible” only from the perspective of Hal’s executives and stockholders. Everyone else wants to know WTF went wrong, how to fix it and avoid its recurrence. As with Wall Street and health insurers, expecting the guys most likely to have been the problem to fix the problem is theater of the absurd.

  11. Synoia says:

    Who wrote the spec? Halliburton? or BP?

    Specification for what under what conditions?

    If Halliburton are the experts, I’d believe they proposed the spec.

  12. qweryous says:

    Well the preference would have been to never have issued any statement…but that didn’t work out this time.

    I agree that it is about the standard press release that is expected under the circumstances, but also serving the multiple corporate purposes as best it can given the careful legal and marketing vetting that went into it.

    Concerning the general issue of ‘specs’:

    Might there be an issue in that the developer of the technology used (likely multiple patents involved) probably has had considerable influence in developing the specifications used?

    Are there perhaps different methods and materials used depending on circumstances, and if so what involvement is there in: writing the specifications, identifying conditions at the site, and making recommendations as to selection and specification of alternates?

    Is there a ‘revolving door’ so that all major customers may have former Halliburton staffers onboard to ‘grease the skids’ with respect to these contracting and business issues?

    On a different topic: Legal news from overseas-Binyam et al (compensation for Guantanamo) appeals court decision (reversal of initial decision):

    “Judges ban secret evidence in Guantánamo compensation case”

    Story at TimesOnline

    From the article:

    “Ministers and the security services were blocked today from using secret information to defend a damages claim by six former Guantánamo Bay detainees.

    Binyam Mohamed and five former prisoners are claiming damages against the Government for complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition.

    In an unprecedented move, the Government and security services wanted to use secret information in their defence at the High Court, which would have meant that the case was in effect held in secret.

    But in a victory for the men, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the Master of the Rolls, and two other appeal judges unanimously ruled that it was not open to the courts to order the “closed material procedure” in an ordinary civil claim. ”

    • Synoia says:

      That’s a complete smack down by the House of Lords (The UK’s highest court). I believe there is no further appeal.

      However, the Gov can just change the law through an act of Parliament.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Are we ever going to get some folks in the House of Lords to talk to Spencer and/or Marcy ?

        Heck, I’d be happy with a few choice interviews by Bill Moyers even.

    • Hmmm says:

      In particular one wonders whether techniques developed for ordinary, conventional-depth rigs might have been used for this exceptional, deep-water rig. Not remotely my field, but easy to imagine not just pressures but also temperatures, chemistries, sea floor mechanics, etc. being different enough to make some or all of the go-to techniques fail in this application.

  13. JohnLopresti says:

    BP*s imperviosity defense in re HAL liability apportionment~ From Kubrick movie. Link is 10 lines of screenplay script. HAL is a computer implacable in the celluloid version.

  14. Hugh says:

    What jumps out at me is the following:

    Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours/b>, prior to the incident. The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications.

    So Halliburton does its cementing and 20 hours later the well blows. Coincidence?

    • Synoia says:

      The cement was not completely cured. Full curing for most cement is 28 days.

      Here the suspicion is that heat from the curing cement caused methyl hydrate to decompose in to methane (aka: explode).

    • ShotoJamf says:

      I wondered about that 20 hour thing myself. I don’t pretend to know anything about deep-sea construction (or any other kind, for that matter), but 20 hours to set up cement a mile deep in the ocean seems a little light to me.

  15. librty says:

    Anybody know what the Permit Depth of the Drilling was

    vs what the Actual Drilling Depth was?

  16. librty says:

    > Terry xxxxxxx, who works for ADTI, had a son who was one of the BP Company
    > reps on the Horizon when the incident occurred. Here’s what he sent me.
    > MINUTE.

  17. perris says:

    here’s the money shot;

    In accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers,

    in other words, don’t blame us blame them, the customers are trying to shed blame and haliburton is saying, “errr, no”

  18. RoyalOak says:

    Cementing was a factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period….the single largest factor, ahead of equipment failure and pipe failure.

    Now that I remember this information, let me find where I originally read it.

  19. qweryous says:

    “Yep, but I AM interested in how he changes his tune gracefully if the tides shift. He did wait until it was projected to hit LA, AL, and possibly both coasts of FL before he said it.”

    I think it works like this:

    People hearing this statement fall into two general groups. Either: Impressed with the “Act of God” phrase for reasons other than its legal meaning.
    Or UNimpressed with its use as unscientific, not fact based, and so on.

    Those in the first group will not be at all disturbed if facts change, all that is necessary is issue additional followup ‘Additional Act(s) of God’ statements. No credibility loss for the statement(s) that was previously issued and later turns out to be erroneous when issued, or just erroneous after the fact.

    Those in the second group are already horrified at the statement for various reasons, and the issuance of additional corrective statements will not change their views of the governor, nor will it change their views of his competence or lack thereof.

    The third group consists of those not following the story and not possessing enough knowledge to have an opinion. It doesn’t matter what the governor says (they’re voting for him anyway).

  20. WilliamOckham says:

    The Halliburton statement was issued the same day that the survivor called in to Mark Levin’s radio show. I’d love to know which came first. The details in the statement track pretty closely with what was revealed by Levin’s caller. If the statement came first, it would appear that the call was coordinated by Halliburton. If the call came first, I’d suspect this statement is Halliburton damage control.

  21. Larue says:

    Shekissesfrogs has just added to Mary McCurnin’s list a GREAT source link of oil industry pro’s and such.

    Incredible Site.

    Now, as I was first perusing that site, I read either in a post or in a comment, that there was a class of workers who monitor mud flows. They are not BP guys, and are contracted, and as such, the comment or post I read suggests there’s HUGE monetary pressure to get them ‘off the clock’ daily or off the rig upon completion of their task.

    It was suggested that they were NOT on duty towards the end of the capping of the well head, with cement curing, when the mud flows backed up fast, the original engineers on the rig began to have problems, and then, BOOM, it was over in one minute.

    This is all not official by any means, but the process of money over safety looms large IF the mud flow guys were off their duty station, BEFORE THE CURING WAS DONE and the capping of the well head WAS COMPLETED IN FULL!

    Had they BEEN on station (if they were not) would it have improved the disaster that occurred? Only time and investigations will tell.

    This is NOT the post I recall, but this one is a GREAT read of how the capping of the well head was being conducted at the time of the blowout.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6427“>Discussion Of How It Happened, Maybe.

    Apology if I’m casting what might seem to some to be ‘aspersions’ but hey, it’s a great site SKFrogs shares, and there’s some great reading there, from professionals.

    IMO, sometimes, it’s ok to speculate and share speculations, until the details flesh themselves out. Other times, not so much. But this is a high level and credible blog source, with lots of info to wade thru, including their comments.

    Great post, Mz. Wheeler, BTW, once again, thanks for all you do.

  22. Rayne says:

    “Act of God” has some pretty specific legal connotations with regard to liability; I wonder if HAL is basically reneging on delivering any further on their contract under force majeure terms? Was this an actual invocation of the terms of a contract to which we aren’t privy? I’m thinking some sort of hold harmless or indemnification clause tied to this term.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Act of God” is an old phrase for an unavoidable accident, a phrase which is also redundant and becoming obsolete as more becomes known about previously obscure processes and our part in them. The important part about an Act of God is that it is a category among the causes of damage and destruction for which no human can be at fault.

    Some activity is so likely, however, to cause damage that the law imposes liability regardless of fault. That this is an example ripe for strict liability seems obvious; that oil production has been so hugely profitable seals the case.

    • Rayne says:

      Well, the wording itself may be old, but it’s recognized under Uniform Commercial Code and allows for the failure to deliver goods/services without being deemed in breach due to natural phenomena or other forces beyond the control of parties.

      Was HAL basically advising its client(s) that it could not make delivery for the foreseeable future in its statement? Was it a subtle demand for indemnification? It might explain why it strikes EW as so odd; it’s not a mea culpa nor a standard damage control statement.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree. As I said in non-legalese:

        The important part about an Act of God is that it is a category among the causes of damage and destruction for which no human can be at fault.

        I also agree that Hal’s statement is late as a routine damage control statement, even by the standards of that industry’s protocols, and that, as is usual with such statements, it is finely worded and seems to be responding to “facts not in evidence”. That is, to circumstances – such as prior talks with interested parties or non-public contractual language – the public is not yet aware of. (It would be standard for such contracts to prohibit the service provider from disclosing the contract or its terms.)

        What you suggest seems likely. This is an example of something Kissinger was fond of: holding secret negotiations in part in public, where only the players know that a negotiation is taking place and what’s being negotiated.

  24. alank says:

    The actors in the Montara spill pled they were only taking direction, not making decisions, despite their long experience, e.g.:

    Pg 80-82 http://www.montarainquiry.gov.au/downloads/Transcripts/TranscriptMontaraCOI_Day005_19-Mar-2010.pdf

    30 Q. I think the burden of your evidence before lunch was
    31 that when you had the sudden flow‐back and you realised
    32 something was wrong with the floats, that was a significant
    33 issue in your mind; is that right?
    34 A. It was a problem, yes.
    36 Q. So you recognised it as a problem; correct?
    37 A. Yes.
    39 Q. And more than a minor problem; correct?
    40 A. A problem, yes.
    42 Q. But was it the case that you saw the responsibility
    43 for responding to this problem lay squarely with the
    44 company rather than you?
    45 A. Yes.
    47 Q. And you saw your role at the time was to do what you
    1 were told by the company man?
    2 A. Yes.
    4 Q. The Inquiry has heard from a number of people
    5 evidence ‐ and I’m paraphrasing significantly here ‐ to the
    6 effect that, “I recognise now that pumping 16.5 barrels
    7 back was a basic error, but I just didn’t realise that at
    8 the time.” Do you understand what I’m putting to you?
    9 A. Yes.
    11 Q. Now, is that your position as well?
    12 A. Yes.
    14 Q. You recognised, a number of months after the blowout,
    15 that that was a basic error to have occurred, but you
    16 didn’t realise it was an error at the time?
    17 A. Correct.
    19 Q. I’m interested in this, Mr Doeg: in light of your
    20 21 years’ experience in the industry, do you have any views
    21 you can offer the Commissioner as to why a number of people
    22 who have significant experience in the industry did not
    23 realise what they now accept is a basic point?
    24 A. No, other than it was an unusual occurrence.
    26 Q. There’s nothing about the nature of life or work on
    27 the rig or the pressures that, in your mind, offer a ready
    28 explanation for this apparent failure to notice such
    29 a thing at the time?
    30 A. The volumes were noted on the job logs and conveyed to
    31 the company man, but other than that, no.
    33 MR BERGER: Thank you, Mr Doeg.

  25. qweryous says:

    It also seems that there was a ‘press release’ on the front page of the New York times yesterday.

    Via TPMMuckraker this NYT story is revealed to be … well… missing some disclosures?

    From the NYT story:

    “Other experts said that while the potential for catastrophe remained, there were reasons to remain guardedly optimistic.

    ““The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.” ” Bold added.

    The ‘Gulf of Mexico Foundation,a conservation group in Corpus Christie,Tx’ you might ask????

    When TPMMuckraker asked they found:

    “A “conservation group” that struck a markedly optimistic tone in a front-page New York Times piece on the Gulf Coast oil spill is made up largely of oil industry executives, and its most recent board meeting was hosted by Transocean, the owner of the rig that exploded, ProPublica reports.” Bold added.

    Via is the TPMMuckraker link above one may view a picture of the board of this “Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex” wearing their GREEN hard hats and smiling for the camera.

    • PJEvans says:

      Probably green hard hats so they can be told from the people who actually work on the rigs. And kept from messing with stuff they probably don’t understand.

    • qweryous says:

      The website of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation possibly explains why the recent board meeting was hosted by Transocean. Dr. Ian Hudson.

      Dr. Ian Hudson is the current Head of Corporate Responsibility & Environment at Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, with over 137 rigs distributed worldwide and over 22,000 employees. Ian coordinates the company’s Corporate Responsibility and Environmental strategy worldwide covering a wide range of areas from community and stakeholder engagement to global Environmental Management Systems. Transocean operates its fleet of rigs in over 30 countries worldwide, which provides a large diversity of activities and opportunities covering within the Corporate Responsibility and Environmental spectrum. Ian also serves on various industry and scientific committees on ranging from Environmental management to marine research and conservation.” Bold added.

      EDIT ADD: Via Propublica which was linked at TPMMuckraker and I fordot to mention it. LINK: http://www.propublica.org/ion/blog/item/non-profit-conservation-group-has-ties-to-big-oil-interests-gulf-oil-spill

      Go there to Update II for the NYT response to this.

  26. fatster says:

    And here’s more. Whadda bunch of weasels.

    ‘Conservation Group’ Quoted In NYT Frontpager On Oil Spill Has Ties To Transocean


  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As shown by comment @60, Hal and BP have a problem that railroads often did a century ago: survivors. They may talk to friends and relatives before they can be reminded that they signed confidentiality agreements. Or having seen their friends blown apart or their lives flash before them, they may not care about the fine points of contract law.

  28. rkilowatt says:


    Deepwater Horizon Info
    This is from a friend….

    > Terry xxxxxxx, who works for ADTI, had a son who was one of the BP Company
    > reps on the Horizon when the incident occurred. Here’s what he sent me.
    > MINUTE.

    [h/t tollertwins from TheOilDrum.com today… Further,while displaceing heavy mud with seawater would take considerable back-presssure off of wellhead, that does not mean loss of that pressure would have prevented a failure of the cement seal. Goto TOD for some informed opinions and also skytroth.com for updated iol leek data.]

  29. fatster says:

    Gettin’ down to some nitty-gritty (from TNR)?

    “In September 2008, Earl Devaney, Interior’s Inspector General, delivered a report to Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that has to be read to be believed. One section, headlined “A Culture of Ethical Failure,” documented the belief among numerous MMS [Minerals Management Service, Dept of Interior] staff that they were “exempt from the rules that govern all other employees of the Federal Government.” They adopted a “private sector approach to essentially everything they did.” This included “opting themselves out of the Ethics in Government Act.” On at least 135 occasions, they accepted gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies with whom they worked. One of the employees even had a lucrative consulting arrangement with a firm doing business with the government. And in a laconic sentence that speaks volumes, the IG reported: “When confronted by our investigators, none of the employees involved displayed remorse.”’


    • Hmmm says:

      Thanks for that. Is this the same sex-and-blow non-regulating oil regulatory team that we heard about a few years ago, or a different one? So hard to keep these things straight!

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Old news, including that the Bush DoJ refused to go after it or to hold it out to other government departments as, um, undesirable behavior meriting sanction, not cloning. Why is the WaPoop resurrecting it now?

          • fatster says:

            Yes, it is old news (2008). TNR referenced that in their article linked to @ 86. Info in TNR’s article seemed familiar to Hmmm (see @ 102) and so I found the 2008 article to confirm Hmmm;s memory. Apologies to you for any confusion this caused.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Oh, no apologies. I saw it posted elsewhere as part of the day’s news, perhaps because some aspect of it was released in an IG report. That little came of behavior that was either illegal or chock full of conflicts of interest was abysmal. That it is not clear whether Obama has made ferreting out such behavior and labeling it undesirable is equally so, especially to the good folks who stayed around for so long under Bush hoping they would eventually see light at the end of the tunnel. So far, Obama has just given them a dark, longer tunnel to work in.

              • fatster says:

                I hear ya. Hard to be “looking forward” when you’ve got so much baggage and devious folks still on board who aren’t about to look forward but, instead, seem to still be working for former management. I guess they don’t y-rate at the federal level.

  30. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    not to mention that waiting at the end of the legal line will be john roberts’ SCOTUSC – supreme court of the u.s. corporation-

    panting to make sure any punitive damages assessed in lower courts are “fair and just” (the phrase the federalust society prefers to see used in place of “trivial”.

  31. rkilowatt says:

    oops, edit last @84: …back-pressure off the bottom of the well casing,…[not wellhead]

  32. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Bmaz – you still reading? How you doing? You ready for some college football yet?

    Nice post above. I think you know I live along Galveston Bay. My wife is a chemist for the plant next to the BP plant in Texas City (Dow, used to be a Union Carbide plant). Been there 30+ years. It’s actually where we met as I went to work doing chromotograpyhy there after I got out of the Air Force. It doesn’t make any difference what legal papers BP signed after that explosion the situation is much worse. Everyone who walks in there (mostly contractors these days) knows they are potential victims. Take whatever you feel about BP and multiply it about 100 times. They’re that bad.

    Thought you might in interested in some of this if no one has posted it yet. More drilling types than legal types but some interesting info if you go back to the start.


    I’ve got a couple friends who work for Transocean and quite o few others who drill. The Transocean guys said the lawyers came around quickly and forced everyone to sign agreements not to talk. Before they clammed up they were pretty pissed at what happened. Not sure if that means anything.

    • bmaz says:

      Hey GCP – yep, I am usually lurking around in between real work. More than ready for football; although I did enjoy the Suns-Spurs game last night. Interesting stuff on BP and very consistent with what i am seeing and Jason Leopold too. You cannot do this kind of work without a few infractions here and there (trust me I was GC for a heavy contractor for a short period; it comes with the work) but the record BP was amassing is really flagrant. Doen’t mean they are absolutely at fault, but sure shows a reckless and bad attitude and oversight. Not good when something like this breaks loose. Will take a look at your recommended site. Don’t be so scarce!

      • GulfCoastPirate says:

        It’s definitely flagrant and its the plan. They know what they are doing. Any money spent on those old plants is more than what they would be fined for not spending the money – so they take the fines. One of the problems is the plants around here are old and as the US has less oil internally to run those plants they become less viable. They’re going to let them play out without spending a dime on them until the local feedstock plays out then it will be overseas they go. They don’t give a damn what they blow up in the meantime.

        There is some very interesting football talk down here. UT, A&M, UH and one of TT/TCU go to the PAC10 with Utah and Colorado to form a 16 team league with 4 quartets and 2 divisions. Winners of the two divisions play for the championship. The Whorns want out of the Big XII but need the local quartet to keep the SEC out of Texas and reduce travel costs. You hearing anything?

        • bmaz says:

          Have not heard lately. Early discussion was two out of Utah, BYU, Colorado and Boise State for the Pac-10. Have not heard much lately, but would be shocked at going to 16. size has never been their deal. In fact, long ago, they wanted ASU and the only real reason Arizona went too is that ASU demanded it because of the ancient rivalry (and the Board of Regents I would imagine which is concurrent).

          • GulfCoastPirate says:

            If the Big 10 takes five and goes to 16 then the SEC and PAC10 have to follow for the TV contracts. That’s what’s driving everything now. Whatever the Big 10 doesn’t poach up north out of the ACC and Big East along what’s left of the Big XII have to band together or the Big XII takes some of the MWC to get up to speed and the remnants of the ACC and Big East combine. It’s all about TV markets. If you somehow end up with 4 conferences with 16 each then you’re on the road to a playoff. The Big 10 and the Whorns are calling the shots. If the Whorns want to go east then the SEC has its 16. If they go west then the Pac10. From what I understand UT has the highest grossing athletic department in the country (over 100 million) and that’s despite only getting 7 million out of the current TV contract in the Big XII while each of the Big 10 schools got 22 million each. No telling what the SEC schools are getting. They want in on a TV network like the Big 10 network. They think they’re better than the SEC schools so they want to go west, just as they did when the SWC broke up and Stanford blackballed them, but the geography has to be made to work. The thinking is the 4 Texas schools have to stay together so the Big XII (or whatever remnants are left) doesn’t try to get any of the TV market down here. Plus, you kill recruiting for OU and Okie State who get most of their players out of Texas.

            Of course, if the Big 10 only takes one school to get up to 12 then no one really has to make a move but if they decide to go to 16 then the pressure is on everyone else or they lose out on the TV money.

    • john in sacramento says:

      … It doesn’t make any difference what legal papers BP signed after that explosion the situation is much worse. Everyone who walks in there (mostly contractors these days) knows they are potential victims. Take whatever you feel about BP and multiply it about 100 times. They’re that bad.

      My Dad worked in an Amoco refinery (now BP), and there was a part of the refinery they called cancer alley. Which seems all too true, since that’s what he died from

      It was a rare … very, very … rare cancer

      bmaz @ 101 – Thanks, I thought so

      • GulfCoastPirate says:

        Yea, lot of cancer in those plants. The wife has had elevated liver readings for quite a few years and they test her regularly including a biopsy. So far nothing. We always keep the fingers crossed.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, they clammed them up pretty good, didn’t they. Pretty shitty to hear that Texas City refinery is still a safety issue. Even shittier to hear they’re sending contractors into it like that.

      • GulfCoastPirate says:

        You may hate yourself for it after but there was a guy on the rig who called into the Mark Levin radio show. It’s out on the net somewhere if you want to take a listen. Somewhat interesting. I believe his name was James if I remember correctly.

        No doubt everyone is clammed up. The oil/driller sites where the technical people hang out have some pretty good background info but everyone is speculating to some extent. I think the general consensus is these guys hit something they weren’t expecting and whoever called the shots at the end didn’t make the right calls.

        EW – they’re doing to the petro workers down here the same thing they did to the steelworkers and auto workers up north. If you’re unionized they’re trying to shut you out. It’s all contractors now as much as they can do. My dad was at the same plant as my wife for 40 years. He hired the first blacks in the area and was the first to give any of them a promotion. My brother has been at that plant for about 35 years. When I went there in 75 after getting out of the Air Force there were about 2500 full time employees. Today, they probabaly don’t have 250. Everything else is contract. All the plants in the area are the same but BP probably has the worst reputation. The Amoco plant they took over had some problems in the past but nothing close to what you hear about today. The only thing they seem to be doing today is running out the clock. As long as they can get relatively cheap feedstock with little transportation costs they’ll keep those plant running as best they can. When the feedstock plays out – they’re gone. They are certainly not going to put any investment into these plants nor are they going to pay anyone one dime more than absolutely necessary.

        Of course, the political situation down here doesn’t help anything. Hairboy and his Aggie cohorts let them do anything they want. Last I heard out of him it was gods will the rig blew up. You can take it from there.

        Personally, I’m hoping the spill gets into the gulf stream, floats around Florida up the Atlantic, enters the Potomac and stops at Obama’s door with a previous stop in South Carolina to see Lindsey Graham. Poetic justice or something like that ………..

        • fatster says:

          Here’s the link. The first part is interesting, assuming the guy is who he says he is. In the second part, they start getting all weirded out about swat teams, and other spurious stuff, so only listened to just a part of it. Anyway: FWIW.

  33. Cynthia says:

    What I find particularly troubling about the massive oil spill in the Gulf is that BP and its chief associates, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, were venturing in uncharted waters, so to speak, by trying to drill for oil beneath 5000 feet of water as well as through 13000 feet of sand and rock. In other words, they were conducting a very dangerous and uncontrolled experiment on the Gulf of Mexico. And this is especially troubling given that the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most biologically productive habitats on Earth. So if their experiment leads to widespread death of fish and other marine life in the Gulf, fat cats at BP, including the ones at Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, should all be charged with environmental genocide and forced to live the rest of their sorry lives in the most lifeless place on the planet.

  34. Cynthia says:

    I’m no expert on oil drilling, by any stretch, but I think it’s conceivable that as the oil rig was drilling through the seafloor, it suddenly and expectantly hit such an enormously powerful pocket of natural gas that neither the world’s best blowout preventer nor the world’s finest cement job could have stopped this blowout from happening. I wouldn’t call this an act of God, as the Governor of Texas did. I’d instead call it an accident waiting to happen. Which still makes me wonder why so many Bible thumpers, who love to brag about their family values, blame God for most of the evildoings in the world.


    • Jkat says:

      except they weren’t drilling cynthia .. they were involved in capping off after a completion in preparation for moving the drilling platform off the location…

  35. rkilowatt says:

    update sat photo of GOM from http://blog.skytruth.org/

    UPDATE 5/4/10 6:30 pm – And here it is. Today’s MODIS / Aqua image features a break in the clouds (just barely) to reveal much of the oil slick. Fresh upwelling oil is apparent around the location of the leaking well. Long tendrils of slick and sheen stretch to the east and southwest; the total area of slicks and sheen, possibly including patches of open water, is 3,260 square miles. Nearshore, things get complicated: there are pale bands of turbidity, probably caused by the recent stretch of high wind and waves; and a few dark streaks and elongated patches trending northeast that we interpret as low-wind zones (wind shadow, the result of light winds from the northeast this afternoon). But there could be patches of oil slick obscured by these features. To the south, heavy cloud may also be hiding some of the slick from this ongoing spill.

  36. aardvark says:

    I am reminded of a local construction company know for building lousy roads. The owner and my father became friends, and on that issue, his comment to my father was, “we build the roads to the specifications the state requires.”

  37. qweryous says:

    Additional clarification of republican views of safety regulation, and possible causes for the recent BP spill.


    “Perry said BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective.” After a reporter pointed out that an explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery killed 15 workers in 2005, Perry acknowledged the company has been under scrutiny for its safety record.

    “If you go from that point forward, they realize there is a bull’s eye on their back,” Perry said. “If there is a company that knows the world, the United States and Texas is watching what they are doing, it would be British Petroleum.” “

    Point of clarification: can you list a company with a bad record Gov? Just to see how the grading curve is shaped… is anything below a “very good safety record” even possible?

    And as to the possible cause (same source):

    “The governor’s staff says Perry was not insisting that an “act of God” caused the spill. (He later said that he suspects a “mechanical failure” is the cause.)”

    Corporate failure, regulatory failure, management failure… not this time.

    Concerning the ‘Act of god’ walk back, either it is a misquote or takeback. Decide for yourself. Link to the source provided previously for that quote:

    “Speaking at a jobs summit in Washington, D.C., Perry repeatedly suggested that the spill was “an act of God.” He said he hoped the massive spill would not lead to a “knee jerk” reaction to stop new or existing offshore drilling.”


    ” “I don’t think that a big wave came along at a very inopportune time and caused … but I don’t know that,” he said.”

    If the criteria is that what you don’t think caused the disaster, and you don’t know that……tomorrow the culprit could be nearly anything.

    EDIT ADD: Apparent source for the ‘mechanical failure information’ :

    “”I suspect there was a mechanical failure somewhere,” Perry said, adding that Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens on Sunday had given him a lengthy explanation of what may have happened.” From above link.

  38. PierceNichols says:

    Having been involved in a certain amount of customer/contractor tangles (although not in the oil industry) in my career, I’m starting to get a good idea of where this is going. The picture I get from that release is that someone in the engineering chain on the Halliburton side pointed out some problems, and they were then bullied into submission by some combination of BP and their own management. This is a common and fundamental problem in any kind of contractor relationship, especially when there’s an implicit threat of punishment through denial of future contracts. ‘We worked to spec’ is really the only defense they have here.

    • GulfCoastPirate says:

      That’s the way I read the situation. There were apparently some BP bigwigs on board when all this went down.

      The Transocean people aren’t happy either.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right–that’s precisely where I’m going with this post. Got a couple of suspicions about precisely what the spec was, but that is precisely what I suspect happened.

      • Hmmm says:

        How many other 5000′ deep projects have been started in the Gulf, or anywhere else in waters that US crews have been working in for eons? My hunch is shallow-water techniques were used in this deepwater project, from either laziness or cheapness, and they catastrophically failed b/c of the difference in conditions at the bottom. Or because of something like the astronomical pressure differential between the surface and the bottom.

        • PJEvans says:

          There are some – there’s at least one other company out there with a deep-water rig in the Gulf. So far they seem to be clean.

      • klynn says:

        A relative said that PierceNichols @ 114 is spot on. That relative has been an engineer contractor in the past for the oil industry.

        Got a couple of suspicions about precisely what the spec was, but that is precisely what I suspect happened.

        This is why I said @ 2 that I understood where you were going with this.

        The geological survey contractor report would be interesting…hint, hint.

  39. orionATL says:

    fatster @108

    now this is interesting.

    wapoop editors and headline writers have their priorities for evaluating gov on

    1. sex

    2. drugs

    3. graft

    how much graft one might ask? hard to say from this muddled story.

    reading this leaves me with the suspicion wapoop is exploiting trivial but eyecatching current events to sell a difficult to sell newspaper.

    thanks for this portrait of contemporary american journalism.

  40. 1boringoldman says:

    Like everyone, I was looking around at what “cementing” means and ran across Optimizing cement systems for specific well conditions in Offshore Magazine. It’s actually intelligible and discusses some of the things that can go wrong and why. There’s a stress/strain illustration that’s too technical for the likes of me, but the note on it is not that hard. It says, “When the cement sheath fails, it does so catastrophically.

    And from this [BP Fought Safety Measures at Deepwater Oil Rigs], neither BP nor Halliburton is looking very good.

    Act of God: 0
    Act of Man: 2

  41. orionATL says:

    earlofhuntingdon @119

    think sec – sex and the regulator.

    the trivial what sells.

  42. PJEvans says:

    Halliburton: We Worked to Spec

    That’s one reason why so many government contracts are the down-to-the-last-detail specification that they’re derided for being: it’s too much temptation for a lot of businesses to low-ball their estimate and then try to make a profit – or at least break even – by using lower-quality materials than their bid used. (I’ve worked in a building that was built that way. It was falling apart, literally, within four years of being finished.)

    • fatster says:

      “That’s one reason why so many government contracts are the down-to-the-last-detail specification that they’re derided for being”

      That is a very important point. I’ve been there, done that for years and the specificity that goes into those contracts is absolutely essential, as is the on-going scrutiny of the work being performed, evaluation of which is based on everything specified.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Exactly. It started during the unCivil War, when suppliers started delivering cardboard soled military boots and gauze for blankets. To avoid that boots and blankets falling apart at the first drop of rain or sweat, performance requirements were established and products were detailed to the thread count per inch, and so on.

        It’s a never-ending game of mouse and cat. Where there’s gubmint money to be had, someone will scam to get it. That’s why the absence of credible investigations of the enormous monies spent on internal and outsourced suppliers for our wars in the Middle East is a scam in its own right.

    • bmaz says:

      It is also why the bid rules for every government construction contract I have ever been involved in provide that if the bidder has particular expertise or knowledge that give it reason to believe there is an incorrect or insufficient spec, they have a duty to inform and request clarification.

  43. orionATL says:

    1boringoldman @123

    i haven’t read the cites,

    but this jumps out –

    “bp fought safety measures at deep sea …”

    rhe headline should read

    “amoco corporate amorality infects bp.

    amoco pub relations, lobbyists, and lawyers have asserted control over bp’s esponse to american federal and state laws and officials.”


    toyota’s american pub relations, lobbyists, and lawyers exerted control over toyota’s american “unsafe at any speed” problems.

    oh, the american corporate way of approaching gov,

    fools, folly, failure, and fooling the public

    over and over again.

  44. orionATL says:

    fatster @125

    to reiterate –


    your cite lent perspective, suported one comment, and provoked comment from others.

    you can’t do much better than that.

  45. Hmmm says:

    Been musing on the gas dynamics.

    If anything that was happening at the bottom (like the curing concrete), or in the hole beneath the bottom (like some sort of incursion from the surrounding rock/sand into the tapped-out well cavity), resulted in the formation and globbing together of gaseous bubbles of anything at all, then given the 20kPSI bottom pressure, you can see how once those bubbles started moving up inside the 5000′ pipe, they could accelerate upwards to an incredible rate, and they would be expanding dramatically on the way up to the surface as the surrounding water pressure drops. If the gas was anything volatile then sooner or later you get a huge volume of combustable gas shooting out the top with just incredible force. The tube would act as a cannon pointed upwards and right at the rig. That would seem like an Act o’ Gawd!!! alright.

    This extreme expansion of pressurized gas under water is why (for example) SCUBA divers have a decompression stop on the way up before coming all the way to the surface, otherwise the bubbles of the pressurized gasses breathed while at depth would coalesce into actual bubbles in the blood (“the bends”). It’s also similar to the way gas bubbles form, coalesce, grow in size as a lava stream in a feeder tube nears the surface, and finally drive the surface lava fountains and explosions we see.

    Gas under pressure is scarier. Pressurized gas escaping into lower pressure zones is way, way, scarier. And pressurized explosive gas… well…

    • librty says:

      And pressurized expanding explosive gas… well…

      Natural Gas Law. Up Close and Definitely Personal

        • librty says:

          Boyle would be shocked.

          Fuck Him, he was an idealist. We got no need for them stinkin idealists, we need pragmatists or at least experimentalists

      • PJEvans says:

        PV=nRT and watch out when P is starting really big and so is n. The temperature drop as it expanded out of the pipe must have been something else, too, for the probably-short time that it lasted.

    • PJEvans says:

      And being an oil well, it’s probably either methane hydrates turning to gas, or a natural gas pocket. (Chemically speaking, not much difference. As far as behavior, probably even less difference.)

  46. Jkat says:

    on the drillers blog site ..interesting to see LLoyds Register .. a personnel firm supplying contract workers to the major oil boyz put the jaw clamps on their temps as well … eh ..

    damn near an industry wide gag order .. the implied is: “you yak ..you won’t work “…

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Unsurprising, given the billions at stake directly, with billions more at risk via slumps in stock prices, the value of contracts, etc.

  47. librty says:

    Here’s an Idea. Why don’t we all call our reps and Senators. Demand the CAFE is increased to 45mpg in 18mos, followed by an increase to 50mpg in 36mos.

    Let’s see if GM can actually do some engineering and design with all that TARP money.

  48. klynn says:

    Here are some interesting things to look at. The start dates are interesting.

    This report was modified on January 10, 2010.

    And here’s some interesting technology reports.

    This gives some interesting BP info.

    Here is a report I came across on April 26th:

    BP has a 65 percent stake in the project, with partners Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui & Co. owning the remainder. The cost of the clean-up will likely be shared between the partners in line with their holdings, Nicholas said.

    The fire on the rig started on April 20 after an explosion that Geneva-based Transocean said may have been caused by a so- called blowout, an unexpected surge in pressure that ejected petroleum at the top of the well. The rig sank two days later.

    Eleven of the 126 workers on board are missing. A search for them has been suspended and their families have been notified, Landry said.

    How will the liability play out for the partners?

    I’ll post more later.

  49. klynn says:

    Sorry EW to blog wore at the end here…

    Wondering about this:

    Yesterday, Rick Outzen of Pensacola’s Independent News reported that prominent Pensacola torts attorney Mike Papantonio claims BP’s Deepwater Horizon well is deeper than the MMS permit allows:

    Papantonio also said that the Deep Horizon well was only permitted to be 18,000-ft. deep, but BP was drilling the well to 25,000-ft. “This screwed up all the permutations on how to deal with this problem,” says Papantonio. “The engineers were thinking the well was only at 18,000 ft.”

    It’s not clear from Rick’s report where Papantonio gets this information. The BP drilling application which we referenced Saturday explicitly mentions a “depth limit” for the exploratory well of “5,328 feet bml,” or below the mud line. Perhaps the actual permit was more restrictive. Or, perhaps, something was lost in translation.

    Which is what I questioned on the geo specs. Wonder if some report suggested bigger deposits deeper?

  50. fatster says:

    U.S. [Minerals Management Service, Dept of Interior] exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling from environmental impact study

    If the reports linked about the Minerals Management Service’s are true, this all fits together like hand-in-glove. But will anyone investigate–and then do something about whatever they find?


      • fatster says:

        What harpie said @ 166.

        Given what we know about MMS in Interior (mainly from the IG report as quoted in the articles linked upstream somewhere on this thread), you’d think congressional hearings would feature members of that Cheneyesque team quite prominently. You’d think that, but . . .

  51. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Here is another example of good reporting from the Guardian on the spill, its background and consequences.

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