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BP Knew of Deepwater Horizon Problems 11 Months Ago 438

Posted by Soulskill
from the confirming-the-expected dept.
jkinney3 was one of several readers to send in news of recently discovered internal documents from BP which indicate the company knew "there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week." According to the New York Times, "The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of 'well control.' And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer." Reader bezenek points out this troubling quote about BP's inconsistent risk assessments: "In April of this year, BP engineers concluded that the casing was 'unlikely to be a successful cement job,' according to a document, referring to how the casing would be sealed to prevent gases from escaping up the well. The document also says that the plan for casing the well is 'unable to fulfill M.M.S. regulations,' referring to the Minerals Management Service. A second version of the same document says 'It is possible to obtain a successful cement job' and 'It is possible to fulfill M.M.S. regulations.'"
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BP Knew of Deepwater Horizon Problems 11 Months Ago

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  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by S.O.B. (136083) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:07PM (#32398584)

    Does this really surprise anyone?

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gt_mattex (1016103) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:47PM (#32398986)

      No.

      What I would really like to see is the risk analysis report. How cautionary were the warnings of the engineers and how did the pencil pushers at the top translate this as an acceptable risk?

      • Re: Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:18PM (#32399272)

        and how did the pencil pushers at the top translate this as an acceptable risk?

        Apparently they just changed "unable" to "able".

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

        by 3dr (169908) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:21PM (#32399310)

        Oh, like this.

        First of all, the sections of pipe are joined mechanically, and sealed with O-rings. The O-rings are specified for shallow water pressures (and temperatures), and rather than use adequate deep water parts, the shallow water parts were continued to avoid mandatory Federal oversight and testing.

        On top of that, deadlines for completion were already tight, as no schedule variability was provided for unforeseen events, such as severe weather, that might hamper drilling and well conversion efforts. The conversion from an exploratory/research structure into a production well was a hard deadline, and pressure was on internally from the otherwise stagnant middle managers clamoring for achievement. There was no room for failure with a project named Deepwater Horizon.

        As engineers' warnings flowed up the chain of command, the wording changed from "grave concern" to "concern" to "noted comment" to eventually "thumbs up!". Inter-hierarchical presentations followed a strict time schedule, so power point mentality and "no bad news up" reigned.

        /satire

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

          by QRDeNameland (873957) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:10PM (#32399694)

          Oh, like this.

          First of all, the sections of pipe are joined mechanically, and sealed with O-rings. The O-rings are specified for shallow water pressures (and temperatures), and rather than use adequate deep water parts, the shallow water parts were continued to avoid mandatory Federal oversight and testing.

          On top of that, deadlines for completion were already tight, as no schedule variability was provided for unforeseen events, such as severe weather, that might hamper drilling and well conversion efforts. The conversion from an exploratory/research structure into a production well was a hard deadline, and pressure was on internally from the otherwise stagnant middle managers clamoring for achievement. There was no room for failure with a project named Deepwater Horizon.

          As engineers' warnings flowed up the chain of command, the wording changed from "grave concern" to "concern" to "noted comment" to eventually "thumbs up!". Inter-hierarchical presentations followed a strict time schedule, so power point mentality and "no bad news up" reigned.

          /satire

          That reminds me of this old classic:

          In the beginning was the Plan.

          And then came the Assumptions.

          And the Assumptions were without form.

          And the Plan was without substance.

          And darkness was upon the face of the workers.

          And they spoke among themselves, saying, "It is a crock of shit, and it stinks."

          And the workers went unto their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung, and we can't live with the smell."

          And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."

          And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying "It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide its strength."

          And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another, "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

          And the Directors went to the Vice Presidents, saying unto them, "It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."

          And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him, "This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company with powerful effects."

          And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.

          And the Plan became Policy.

          And that is how shit happens.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gknoy (899301)

          You note that as satite, but that's basically exactly what happened with the Challenger. The engineers had reliability reports and lots of testing data that showed launching in the cold was a Bad IDea... however, poorly constructed presentations didn't highlight THAT aspect of the data, and their warnings were generally misunderstood or ignored.

    • Re:Duh (Score:4, Interesting)

      Of course not. Anyone with half a brain knows that private companies are utterly amoral entities beholden to no law or regulation beyond those they set themselves; Not even the profit motive--though this is most often their creed.

      If you look at the problems seen in this spill, the financial crisis and elsewhere, you see that each and every single person involved in the poor and negligent decisions that were made acted in their own interests to the exclusion of all else. It's obvious why they did so; no-one was accountable for anything. And what happens when people can do whatever they want with no consequences?

      Forget fines. Fines on large companies count as paperwork to them. No-one cares. Who's going to jail over this. Who will have to personally pay fines? That is the only type of punishment that people, human beings will understand. If the supervisors and managers of Deepwater Horizon knew that their jobs, pensions and freedom was on the line if anything happened at that plant, you can be certain that all measures would have been taken to ensure safety. Instead, punitive measures are passed on to the company in the form of (minor) bureaucratic fines, all while bonuses are paid out to employees for illegal/dangerous behaviour. Deepwater Horizon was one disaster amid millions waiting to happen under our current corporate system.

      The problem is the corporate system, and the unnecessary and dangerous insulation it gives to individuals. Corporations and their actions are ultimately a result of the decisions and actions of individuals and those must be the people who are held to account, not some abstract entity. The science fiction cliché of mega-corporations who commit all kinds of outrageous crimes is not a fantasy so much as it is a logical extrapolation of what the corporate system will ultimately allow to happen; indeed, that is has allowed to happen.

      This is of course the whole point of corporations. There whole purpose is to shield their owners and managers from liability, financial and otherwise, while enabling them to maximise profit. The net result is incompetent oil drilling safety measures with no contingencies in the Gulf, and bankers getting paid bonuses for every dollar of other people's money they shovel out the door. The only people who are surprised when things finally go belly up are those under some kind of ridiculous delusion that the people who run corporations are "good, reasonable, upstanding businessmen". The notion of the corporate suit as anything other than a pantomime villain is rapidly becoming obsolete.

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:37PM (#32399944)

        FWIW, I believe that under law the top level executives and the board of directors ARE personally liable. But somehow the prosecutors don't find those targets appealing, and they get to choose which cases they prosecute.

        It doesn't *have* to be corruption. That's only one possibility. Personally, I think it is, but only if you give corruption a very wide interpretation. If a DA prosecutes someone powerful, whether they win or lose their career is probably over. Same for the Attorney Generals, but with a tougher criterion for powerful. And judges also, for whatever reason, tend to give favorable treatment beyond the bounds of law or reason to the more powerful.

        They *laws* are fair (in the sense recognized by François Villon: simplified"The law forbids both the rich and the poor from sleeping under the bridge."), but the enforcement isn't even fair in that sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I agree. If all countries had a 'buck stops here' type of law, with heavy jail time penalties, we wouldn't see shite like this happening. The CEO of BP should be thrown in jail for ten years without parole. Figure out a charge and make it stick. When CEO's see jail time for them as a option for bad or negligent behaviour by their company, new rules will go in to make sure bad or negligent behaviour doesn't happen. And if they do, and someone below the CEO is to blame (lies about a risk assessment for exampl
    • by arcite (661011) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:43PM (#32399508)
      Face it, your populace have turned into a bunch of overweight zombies. Bush, Obama, whats the difference? The corporations own your government and your asses. Where are the protests in the streets? Where is the outrage? Are you all just going to accept this disaster and go fill up your car with gas and go buy some more junk food (as usual)?

      Oh wait a minutes.... you guys got lawyers by the hundreds of thousands, that will SOLVE all your problems. Just sue yourselves while you're at it, you could use the Ca$h I'm sure....

      Perhaps,... just perhaps this epic MAN-MADE eco disaster will wake up enough of your patriots (are there any left anywhere in the world these days?) to take back the agenda and start acting like you deserve the moniker, Superpower...

      BTW, this isn't a flame, I'm a Canuck and I believe that the US is the greatest country on the planet...Americans are awesome, Hell, I even work for the US government (via third party)! In conclusion; Show some vision will ya? WAKE UP!

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grcumb (781340) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:59PM (#32400626) Homepage Journal

      Does this really surprise anyone?

      Yes, I am surprised. In one really important regard:

      That NYT piece [nytimes.com] is an excellent piece of reporting. It gets to the facts - some of which are decidedly uncomfortable for both the government & BP and many of which required considerable research and effort - it ties everything nicely together and, without commentary, innuendo or logical fallacy, manages to paint a compelling picture of corporate and bureaucratic laxity.

      Congratulations to Brown and Lehren for an excellent and important piece of work. This kind of journalism is exactly what we need.

  • Liability caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:07PM (#32398586)
    How does this come as a surprise since the government limits BP's liability to just a drop in the bucket for them? Yeah, they are thinking about retroactively removing it, but seriously, anytime you reduce the liability to an artificially low number, you are just asking for trouble.
    • Re:Liability caps (Score:5, Informative)

      by coredog64 (1001648) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:05PM (#32399658)
      What color is the sky on your planet? BP is subject to the federal Oil Pollution Act, which has an infinite limit for cleanup damages: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/usc.cgi?ACTION=RETRIEVE&FILE=$$xa$$busc33.wais&start=4683182&SIZE=13816&TYPE=TEXT [gpo.gov] What is limited by the OPA is Federal claims: The $75M is the easy money where plaintiffs don't have to prove that BP was careless or negligent in order to collect their money. The OPA DOES NOT preempt state laws, where there is no limit to what BP will have to pay. The only bar for plaintiffs in state court is that they have to prove that BP was careless or negligent.
  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:07PM (#32398590) Homepage Journal

    Did they not honestly believe that a disaster could occur? Did the right people not talk to each other? Or was the urge to cut corners simply so great that people ignored the risk?

    From the ABC interview with one of the survivors, the BP people were arguing with the Transocean people, insisting that it would be ok to skip some phases of sealing the well because they wanted to move the schedule up. I wonder what that BP manager was thinking.

    • by foobsr (693224) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:12PM (#32398636) Homepage Journal
      I wonder what that BP manager was thinking.

      Beyond Petroleum, of course of $$$.

      CC.
    • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:18PM (#32398712)

      Did they not honestly believe that a disaster could occur? Did the right people not talk to each other? Or was the urge to cut corners simply so great that people ignored the risk?

      From the ABC interview with one of the survivors, the BP people were arguing with the Transocean people, insisting that it would be ok to skip some phases of sealing the well because they wanted to move the schedule up. I wonder what that BP manager was thinking.

      If BP is like every other big monster multinational corporation, there were multiple departments or divisions arguing with each other and with the contractors. As far as they were concerned, they knew what was the thing to do and everyone else was a bunch of stuffed shirts and the contractors were morons.

      As far as the contractors were concerned, the BP guys were big corporate paper pushing morons that if they knew anything, would be working with the contractors.

      The 'BP' in the above statement can be searched and replaced with any big corporation and their outsource "partners".

      Don't confuse malice with corporate bureaucracy, internal fighting, politics, and the arrogance of people in the field and in the offices.

      Now, this being the typical corporate fuck up, everyone will be pointing fingers at the others stating "We told them so!" but the were: too stupid, political, arrogant, or didn't listen and therefore the disaster happened. If only they listened to us.

      The CEO will still get his hundred million dollar paycheck but the peons are probably gonna be axed without much compensation. It's good to be king - CEO.

      • by Improv (2467)

        I wouldn't suggest any malice was involved. The manager who was arguing for the schedule to be pushed up was, as far as I know, one of those killed in the initial explosion.

        I guess my original "questions" were full of hyperbole - it's just a shame when people cut corners in industry like this.

      • he won't be broke and broken, living under a bridge, but he's going away.

        the question at hand should resolve over whether BP PLC is going away. there is ample proof of negligence and recklessness over the Mondero well, so there is no cap on liability.

      • by bmo (77928) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:53PM (#32399030)

        Don't confuse malice with corporate bureaucracy,

        Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

        Now, this being the typical corporate fuck up, everyone will be pointing fingers at the others stating "We told them so!" but the were: too stupid, political, arrogant, or didn't listen and therefore the disaster happened. If only they listened to us.

        Then we need to start plugging the well with BP executives. From what we've all seen, they are largely worthless and incapable of making the decisions for which they supposedly earn their astronomical rock-star pay.

        And then we need to regulate their sorry asses. Incapable of doing the right thing? You've earned onerous regulation. BP was arguing in front of the Canadian parliament that they don't need to drill relief wells in the same season as the production wells *after* this disaster started. They are obviously fucking nuts and need to be *told* what to do - with teeth. There needs to be fines targeting not just the company but the executives themselves. Jail time would be nice too, but then the only people who really serve jail time are those who are poor or of color, so that appears to be asking for too much.

        Stop excusing BP.

        --
        BMO

      • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:34PM (#32399920)
        I don't know about that. BP Stock has dropped by about 33%. That's enough for any public company to axe the CEO. Remember, the CEO still serves the board, and the board serves their bank accounts.
        • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:20PM (#32400296)

          I don't know about that. BP Stock has dropped by about 33%. That's enough for any public company to axe the CEO. Remember, the CEO still serves the board, and the board serves their bank accounts.

          The CEO and the board both serve their bonuses, nothing less, nothing more. And they are going to get bonuses, after which the CEO - if he's going to be fired - will get a golden parachute.

          Personal responsibility is for the serfs.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:27PM (#32398800)

      20% bonus if I come in ahead of schedule. etc etc etc.

       

    • and What about the other Oil Companies, don't you think they are cutting all the same corners and their well aren't any safer ?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ummm.... no, actually. Some are, probably, but I really like living and generally prefer not to cut corners that could result in me dying, ergo, these corners are not cut on my platform. Anyone who would like to, I will run off. I also know that my bosses understand that the costs associated with a disaster of this proportion could pay for a hell of a lot of safety expenses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geoskd (321194)

      Did they not honestly believe that a disaster could occur? Did the right people not talk to each other? Or was the urge to cut corners simply so great that people ignored the risk?

      From the ABC interview with one of the survivors, the BP people were arguing with the Transocean people, insisting that it would be ok to skip some phases of sealing the well because they wanted to move the schedule up. I wonder what that BP manager was thinking.

      As someone who has found himself on both sides of this thought process, it is actually very easy to fall into the trap of making bad assumptions. People inherently underestimate risks [schneier.com]. This leads to the common belief that cutting a few corners once in a while is acceptable. 60%-80% [crunchgear.com] of Americans use a cell phone while driving on a regular basis, in spite of the fact that almost everyone agrees that this is a dangerous habit, and study after study has shown that it overwhelmingly increases your chances of be

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt&lynx,bc,ca> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:08PM (#32398594) Journal
    The more I learn about this, the more I'm inclined to think that the last thing BP ever does as a company on this planet will be cleaning up the mess.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#32398622) Journal
      You honestly think BP will face more than token consequences and maybe a name change?
      • Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:15PM (#32398680) Homepage

        You honestly think BP will face more than token consequences and maybe a name change?

        Yes.

        This incident has a lot of visibility, and the government can not afford to let it go with a slap.

        Beyond that, lawsuits arising from this will fill the courts for YEARS. The lawsuits will cost BP much more money and bad publicity that any government action.

        BP *WILL NOT* come out of this unscathed, if they come out at all.

        • Fortunately for the government, the people of our country have the attention span of a goldfish. Weeks will go by, everyone will forget about this just like they've forgotten about everything else, and the government will hand out a barely-publicized slap on the wrist.
          • by zill (1690130)
            You and I will probably forget in a year. But the thousands of fishermen who can never fish in the gulf again will never forget.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Lars T. (470328)

              You and I will probably forget in a year. But the thousands of fishermen who can never fish in the gulf again will never forget.

              Just like thousands of fishermen who can still not fish in Prince William Sound. Exxon is still the biggest publicly traded company.

        • Yes. This incident has a lot of visibility, and the government can not afford to let it go with a slap.

          If what happened to Exxon after Valdez is any indication, then there will be an initial, very large and very public fine, which they will eventually find a way to avoid paying. See here [nytimes.com]. In short: They were told just after the disaster to pay $2.5 billion, but years later the Supreme Court reduced that number to just $500 million.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

          by bmo (77928) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:23PM (#32399322)

          "HP *WILL NOT* come out of this unscathed,"

          Exxon did. Their fine was a drop in the bucket.

          --
          BMO

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          How many people care about the Exxon-Valdez incident or the last Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Ixtoc I? Yes there will be lawsuits and BP will be paying out but when you're part of the richest industry ever and can easily pass the cost onto the consumer who will forget about this why would you worry?
      • by mark-t (151149)
        Well, insurance doesn't tend to cover criminal negligence, so... yup.
      • I hope so. Obama seems to be determined to make a show out of it to prop up his own position, but, for once, this may actually be a positive thing - if only coincidentally.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:22PM (#32399314)

        and maybe a name change?

        Too bad "Gulf Oil" is already taken.

    • Incorporation is a privilege granted, rather than a certainty, or a "right". It can be revoked, although in the century since the accountants and lawyers started running things, it hasn't happened much. BP's apparent dishonesty and negligence would seem valid reasons for this action, given the outcome: Many people dead and a huge environmental / economic effect.

      After seeing this proclaimed "biggest US environmental disaster" [bbc.co.uk], I think we might consider all the other massive impacts of industrialization
    • by bazorg (911295)
      "on this planet" may be a little exaggerated, but I really don't see why the USA should honour any concession agreement with a company guilty of negligence of these proportions.
  • Old memo deja-vu (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Valacosa (863657) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:12PM (#32398634)

    From here [cnn.com]:

    BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that [President's daily briefing]?

    RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

    Was anyone else reminded of that little gem?

  • President Obama (Score:5, Interesting)

    by retech (1228598) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:20PM (#32398738)
    If you do want to "own" this disaster and take responsibility then here is a challenge for you. Take this memo and every other smoking gun a decent investigation will reveal and seize BP and all its assets. Take the assets of ALL the top level execs and board, use that to pay for the clean up. Hold those same people criminally responsible for ALL of this and imprison them. Have BP continue to run and use all of its future profits and assets to fund some proper alternative fuel projects, or just pay off the national debt.

    This is something the people would gladly see happen. It may restore some faith in us, letting us know the gov't is not completely corrupt and run by these bastards. And it would go a long way to prove you are not just a puppet who provides lip service on the news. It could show you actually give a damn.

    So, are you willing to be the change you spoke about?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by troll8901 (1397145) *

      ... seize BP and all its assets. Take the assets of ALL the top level execs and board, use that to pay for the clean up. Hold those same people criminally responsible for ALL of this and imprison them.

      Hypothetically, that sounds like what dictators of certain countries would love to do to companies and newspaper publishers that don't support them. Just find an excuse, or create one.

      You honestly think this is a correct course of action?

      • Re:President Obama (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuantumRiff (120817) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:04PM (#32399160)

        the united states used to dissolve the charters of thousands of corporations a year. Way back when, it was a valid punishment for fucking up. Then, suddenly, corporations became people too.

      • Re:President Obama (Score:5, Interesting)

        by retech (1228598) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:19PM (#32399292)
        Yes I do think it's a perfectly acceptable solution.

        If a corporation wishes to be treated as an entity then hold it responsible as such. If you or I went out drinking and slammed our car into a McD's we would be held criminally and civilly liable for those actions. The courts would imprison us, take the car and seize worldly assets to pay the damages.

        I am tired of corporations (globally now, but clearly the US set the stage) completely raping local resources (labor, infrastructure, taxation abatement, natural resources) and being patted on the back when the well runs dry. Their upper echelon walks away with well lined coffers and the local area gets shit.

        I do not care where this company is "located" they played in the Gulf, they fucked it up, they can pay for it (criminally and civilly). I highly doubt if you did something this egregious they'd (BP Execs) would want you to just walk away from it.
      • Re:President Obama (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rhizome (115711) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:09PM (#32399684) Homepage Journal

        Hypothetically, that sounds like what dictators of certain countries would love to do to companies and newspaper publishers that don't support them. Just find an excuse, or create one.

        You mean like "indefinite detention" for onetime-suspected terrorists and sex offenders? Sorry pal, but the "makin' shit up" method of justice has a fresh coat of asphalt, and the entire US government (as well as a large portion of its citizenry) is barreling along on that strategy bus. Might as well use it.

    • first intelligent suggestion I've seen in six weeks about B razen P olluters.

    • Re:President Obama (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:53PM (#32399036)

      And the legal base for this would be?

    • Re:President Obama (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:18PM (#32399264) Journal

      That is called populism, and while it might make people feel good, it doesn't have a basis in law or the constitution. Holding them financially responsible is an obvious point, but you can't seize assets of the employees (4th Amendment) nor hold them personally responsible unless you can show criminal negligence or that they broke some other law. That is entirely possible for some.

      What we can't do is knee jerk react and create new laws because of this. The problem isn't that we don't have enough laws, the problem is that the current system of laws and regulations wasn't followed. Politicians love to pass new laws when the shit hits the fan, because it makes it look like are doing something, when in fact it is a useless gesture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by melikamp (631205)

        Holding them financially responsible is an obvious point, but you can't seize assets of the employees (4th Amendment) nor hold them personally responsible unless you can show criminal negligence or that they broke some other law. That is entirely possible for some.

        It looks like firms adapted to this challenge and we may indeed need new laws. It may well be impossible to collect enough evidence to convict any single executive because the responsibility was purposefully spread as thin as possible. One guy does buying, another guy does ordering, yet another one does inspection, yet another one is responsible for personnel training, and they all have supervisors of various degree. Any fuckup, no matter how bad, can be ultimately blamed on a failure to get a message throu

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy (216950)

          The problem with rushing to create new laws is that is saying "This isn't covered under current law", which is another way to let those responsible go scot free, and undermines a real investigation and prosecution. We can make new laws that cover very specific situations like this, but common law regarding criminal negligence should suffice.

          The more detailed and specific you make a law, the more difficult it is to actually enforce.

  • Flamebait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:30PM (#32398828) Homepage Journal

    That's right, it's not the engineers who run those companies and when I point this obvious fact out it gets a 'flamebait' score. [slashdot.org]

    If it's a flamebait, then I am going for it again. ... BP, Transocean, Halliburton have not rationally considered the options and have not rationally analyzed the feasibility. They are doing exactly the same thing they have been doing for the past 30 years at least. The current oil spill is a mirror image of the Ixtoc disaster, the difference is just how deep they are drilling. They couldn't stop the spill in 50 meters of water with the blow out preventer, it did not work then, didn't work now; with the 'sombrero' = 'top hat', with the 'junk shot'= some metal balls they were throwing into the well then, they couldn't stop the leak with pumping the mud='top kill' etc.

    Engineers can take all the offense they like, but this is simply the truth. Engineers are not running BP or Transocean or Halliburton. Engineers matter only to the question 'how much more money can we dig out of the earth' and not 'how do we deal with a disaster we may cause'.

    • by Bysshe (1330263) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:03PM (#32399150)
      While the top guys are often not engineers, what you're saying isn't entirely true. They have very rationally considered the options. Here's a nice link to a technical briefing [concerts.com] from last week where they outline their options and the current situation.

      In addition Tony Hayward [wikipedia.org] is a geologist with a PhD.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roman_mir (125474)

        My point is valid that the company did not rationally considered options and did not prepare for the disaster as a coherent unit, in a way that is meaningful and that could be used. My point is valid that the technology of trying to stop the leak has not advanced since 30 years ago and probably longer than that. They are doing the same thing and failing in the same way they did before.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kabloom (755503)

      Give me a list of all offshore oil well blowouts in the last 30 years (since Ixtoc 1) and how they were capped. Just comparing two incidents, we can't possibly know whether these two events were anomalies, and sombrero/top hat, and top kill are techniques that have worked on other wells in the interim, and that could generally be expected to work.

    • Re:Flamebait (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rudisaurus (675580) on Monday May 31, 2010 @04:51AM (#32405090)

      Engineers can take all the offense they like, but this is simply the truth. Engineers are not running BP or Transocean or Halliburton. Engineers matter only to the question 'how much more money can we dig out of the earth' and not 'how do we deal with a disaster we may cause'.

      Engineers matter to the question 'what could go wrong and how do we keep it from happening?'

      I doubt that engineers would design the BOP stack with a discharged battery, or with shear rams undersized for the weight of drill-pipe in the hole. I doubt that engineers designed the well-suspension program to proceed regardless of the results of the positive and negative pressure tests on the cement job or without a retrievable bridge plug set before pulling out of the hole.

      Other people are often responsible for carrying out the plans of engineers, and the causes of accidents are often attributable to failure by others -- whether workers or management -- to follow the designs and recommendations of the engineers. Not always, of course, which is why engineers sit on boards of inquiry in an effort to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. The classic example is the Challenger accident, where management overruled the caution of the engineers with a well-known result.

      So, in short, I think your excoriation of engineers' work generally is a bit misplaced.

      DISCLAIMER: I am one.

  • Time for the CEO to do some hardtime / the chair!

  • by copponex (13876) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:35PM (#32398868) Homepage

    1953 Iranian coup d'etat [wikipedia.org]
    http://wearechangecoloradosprings.org/docs.php [wearechang...prings.org] (pdf source documents for OPERATION AJAX)

    The Persians were dissatisfied with the royalty terms of the British petroleum concession, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC), whereby Persia received 16 per cent of net profits.

    In 1921, a military coup d'état—"widely believed to be a British attempt to enforce, at least, the spirit of the Anglo-Persian agreement" effected with the "financial and logistical support of British military personnel"—permitted the political emergence of Reza Pahlavi, whom they enthroned as the "Shah of Iran" in 1925. The Shah modernized Persia to the advantage of the British; one result was the Persian Corridor railroad for British military and civil transport during World War II.

    In the 1930s, the Shah tried to terminate the APOC concession, but Britain would not allow it. The concession was renegotiated on terms again favorable to the British. On 21 March 1935, Pahlavi changed the name of the country from Persia to Iran. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was then re-named the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC)...

    The overthrow of Iran's elected government in 1953 ensured Western control of Iran's petroleum resources and prevented the Soviet Union from competing for Iranian oil. Some Iranian clerics cooperated with the western spy agencies because they were dissatisfied with Mosaddegh's secular government...

    After the 1953 coup, the Shah's government formed the SAVAK (secret police), many of whose agents were trained in the United States. The SAVAK was given a "loose leash" to torture suspected dissidents with "brute force" that, over the years, "increased dramatically".

    Another effect was sharp improvement of Iran's economy; the British-led oil embargo against Iran ended, and oil revenue increased significantly beyond the pre-nationalisation level. Despite Iran not controlling its national oil, the Shah agreed to replacing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company with a consortium—British Petroleum [40% owner] and eight European and American oil companies.

  • by stomv (80392) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:43PM (#32398938) Homepage

    Fines don't amount to much, even if they're huge -- shareholders get hurt, but the decisionmakers don't get hurt enough.

    The solution: long jail sentences, from the CEO on down to middle management. If you knew about this and were anything but a prole, you need to go to jail. A policy like this and management will consider safety far more important than they do now.

    P.S. Same goes for Massey up in West Virginia, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shadowbearer (554144)

      We put people in prison in this country because they smoke a joint, or sell a "feel good" drug to someone else who wants it, or jaywalk too many times, etc. The trials are short, for the most part (excepting celebrities).

      Greedy asshats who fuck up thousands+ lives haven't even been indicted.

      The "justice" system in the US has been bought and paid for, and those who flaunt it don't even have to hide anymore.

      The quote at the bottom of this load of the article is " If you don't

  • by dokebi (624663) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:11PM (#32399208)
    The really interesting stuff is after 1:30

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6ZN6r5-1QE
  • So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dnwq (910646) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:46PM (#32400484)
    What future disasters does someone in BP know about now?
  • by bsercombe72 (1822782) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @11:50PM (#32403464)
    Anyone who has had any experience with drilling opreations in the gulf will know that loss of drilling fluids, kicks and other well control events are common, expected and routine. Dressing them up to be problems with the well design is pure horsepuckey. If you don't know what you're talking about then STFU. Even so-called "underground blowouts" are common and can be insured by lloyds. Furthermore the phrase 'casing was unlikely to be a successful cement job' makes no sense. The article is poorly written by people who do not have a grasp of oilfield equipment and procedures and obviously could not be bothered consulting with someone who was in the rush to attempt to smear Pulitzer all over themselves. Now, this statement has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual issues which were: failure on BP and Transoceans part to identify excessive fluid flows following the cementation of the production liner AND failure (or so it seems from public information) to maintain the BOP- quite a difficult task given its located at the sea floor but any indication that it has problems should call for immediate halt and repair work. When drilling any well, your BOP is all that stands between you, catastrophe and death. /rant

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