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Earth Software Science

Modeling Software Showed BP Cement As Unstable 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the many-points-of-failure dept.
DMandPenfold writes "Advanced modeling software analyzed the cementing conditions for BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well as unstable, days before the blast that killed 11 oil rig workers and let millions of barrels of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton, the company that carried out the cement job, used its own modeling software called OptiCem, to support arguments that more stability was needed for the piping and cement. ... An OptiCem test on 15 April, five days before the blast, stipulated that from Halliburton’s point of view, 21 ‘centralizers’ needed to be added to the well bore. The centralizers are used to provide space around the oil pipe casing within the well, as cement is poured around it, and are a vital part of safe drilling. BP initially adhered to the OptiCem software test and ordered 15 extra centralizers. But when technicians on the rig received the extra centralizers they mistakenly decided the new centralizers were the incorrect type. At this point BP proceeded with the drilling anyway, with the six centralizers, deciding another known technique of injecting cement in other places would work."
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Modeling Software Showed BP Cement As Unstable

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  • by revscat (35618) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:10AM (#34206136) Journal
    So what? BP has massive amounts of money, as well as political connections out the ass. Nothing is going to happen to them, even if half of the Gulf Coast population winds up with cancer. Complain away, Slashdot. If it makes you feel better to post on the intertubes, excellent. Meanwhile, nothing gets done.
  • Re:BP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:11AM (#34206150)

    Actually I do believe

    "Thank you Captain Hindsight", is more appropriate of a comment here.

  • by Flowstone (1638793) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:12AM (#34206168)
    Translation:
    "We have concrete evidence that bp not only dropped the ball, but insisted on risking screwing themselves over. However we're not going to say it was their fault, as they're a big oil company that pays us alot of money."
    so much for biting the hand that feeds you.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:17AM (#34206198) Journal
    What I don't understand, with these "Corporation that doesn't give a fuck and has more politicians in its pocket than you ever will fucks over some more luckless saps" stories is why there isn't more extralegal violence associated with them.

    Obviously, subjecting large corporations to serious penalties under law would be unamerican, and we generally avoid it; but America is crawling with angry and well armed people, many without too much to lose, and spree-killing is something we start practicing in high school.

    Why isn't there an enraged ex-fisherman with an AR-15 lurking outside the window of every BP C-level whose name is publicly known? People get killed all the time over petty shit, why not the big stuff?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:24AM (#34206244) Journal
    Given the number of stories where people either come to work and shoot up the place after being laid off, or even murder-suicide their own families and then themselves due to economic stresses, I'm not at all sure that it is rationality saving them.

    Obviously, the rational thing is to fatalistically suck it up and try to move on, and I'd fully expect most people to do so; but an irrationality incidence of less than 1 in 1000 adds up to more than a few very dangerious people on a population level...
  • by pla (258480) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:35AM (#34206338) Journal
    Obviously, the rational thing is to fatalistically suck it up and try to move on

    That depends.

    Sometimes, the most rational course of action requires doing what little you can to send a simple, clear, and potentially bloody message of "don't do this again". In particular, when you have almost nothing left to lose, and those who destroyed you have almost no risk of seeing any meaningful penalties.

    A handful of BP execs dead at the hands of the fishermen they ruined would do a whole heap more to prevent another such catastrophe, than any monetary penalties ever could. "Companies" behave like complete sociopaths, abusing both convention and law to maximize profits; the humans running companies, however, can experience real fear.
  • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:35AM (#34206342) Homepage

    Usually those shootings are not premeditated - the guy just picks up his gun, drives back to work/home and starts shooting.

    Killing some executives requires a plan. Finding their addresses, driving hundreds of miles, etc; Plenty of time to lose the "heat of the moment" and realize the consequences of such actions.

    Also, having a company and not a person to be raged at makes it harder. They don't have such strong feelings against the particular people, they might not even know who they are.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:35AM (#34206348) Homepage Journal

    The issue isn't "omg they ignored the modeling - those bastards!"

    The issues are:

    1) Was their mistaken belief that the stabilizers were the wrong size reasonable under the circumstances, was it due to an understandable human error, or was it due to gross incompetence?

    2) Was the backup plan based on sound engineering and sound industry practices, or was it a "we think this will be okay, let's cross our fingers and drill?"

    If the mistake on the stabilizers was reasonable under the circumstances and the backup plan was based on sound engineering and sound industry practices, I don't see any blame as it relates to this particular decision.

    On the other hand, if either decision was based on incompetence, then it's easy to pin blame. If the mistake was based on something less than incompetence - say, a competent person demonstrating the reality that good human beings occasionally make mistakes and making a bad or careless decision at what would turn out to be the worst possible time - then there is blame but the punishment for that person should not be as severe as that of incompetence.

  • Re:Software? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#34206486)
    I have yet to see a single posting on Slashdot that appears to come from a real source that would even come close to being a whistleblower.

    I have seen a lot of big egos who think they're in the know but never anyone who really was in any inner circle with the real goods.
  • by The Dodger (10689) on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:52AM (#34206516) Homepage

    How about we go right back to the source of the problem and track down the bastard who issued the licence to drill in such deep water to begin with? Surely it's obvious to even the most dim-witted American politician that drilling in 5,000 feet of water is going to entail some risks?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @09:58AM (#34206578)

    It'd be a start if the blame was even being spread fairly. This US obsession with blaming BP entirely largely started by Obama as he needed to deflect political attention away from his own incompetence, but BP was only one of a few companies who deserve blame. BP was certainly the majority stakeholder, but whilst BP has from the start accepted it's fair share of the blame - it never once said it'd pay anything less than the full costs of cleanup and compensation. You can't even claim that BP were the ones raking the profits from the well and hence the ones that deserve to pay because other companies including the US oil company Anadarko, and Japanese company Mitsui also had a share in the well but to date have dodged all responsibility, and then there's the fact that companies like Transocean and Halliburton still profited from the well by being contracted to play the part they did in the first place.

    I'm amazed that so little criticism is being pushed towards Halliburton, when it seems they were in fact guilty of at least some degree of negligence - even the US panel investigating the spill is beginning to accept that now-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11648354 [bbc.co.uk]

    It's incredible that Americans seem to feel the need for a foreign bogeyman in incidents like this, that despite Halliburton's record in it's dealings regarding the Iraq war all blame is deflected away from it, and companies like Anadarko, Mitsui, and Transocean.

    Sure BP fucked up, sure they were getting the biggest slice of profits, but at least they're the one company out of all those involved who has from the start been willing to pay for the fuckup, even though it seems pretty now that BP might actually have been the company that least screwed up compared to it's partner Transocean, and compared ot Halliburton:

    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/u-s-spill-panel-examines-causes-of-bp-oil-spill-reuters_molt-7a2344c54e1b.html;_ylt=Atte73PsYsywCFWErVA85UrBXGwF;_ylu=X3oDMTE2MTRia2tlBHBvcwMxMgRzZWMDdG9wc3RvcmllcwRzbGsDdXNzcGlsbHBhbmVs?x=0 [yahoo.com]

    It's sad that the one company that takes responsibility and offers to pay full costs from the outset gets demonised, whilst those others who are responsible keep getting given a free ride by the press and public and are still to this day refusing to accept blame, or pay their share of the costs despite the mounting evidence that they were in fact more responsible for fucking up than BP themselves.

  • by stdarg (456557) on Friday November 12, 2010 @10:03AM (#34206614)

    Halliburton did the cementing, then said hey it's wrong, then BP proceeded with drilling anyway, rather than redoing the cement. Halliburton didn't do the drilling so I don't see how you can blame them.

    According to the Oil Spill Commission’s findings this week, Brian Morel, drilling engineer at BP, wrote an email to Brett Cocales, another BP engineer, as the drilling proceeded, saying: “Who cares, it’s done, end of story, we’ll probably be fine”.
    [...]
    At a hearing in July, BP’s well team leader, John Guide, explained the decision not to go with the software’s recommendations. “The model is – first of all, it’s not accurate all the time. ...I put very, very little faith in the model because it’s wrong a lot.”

    BP still drilled with “no direct indicators of cement success” and no cement evaluation log, the Oil Spill commission said. The company conducted a separate negative pressure test, an oil engineering test designed to show whether the casing and cement would hold against significant pressure, and isolate potentially dangerous hydrocarbons.

    The test was failed, but was – for an unexplained reason – deemed a “complete success” by both BP and rig owner Transocean at the time, a presentation on Monday said.

    That's pretty blatant. Halliburton warned them, BP did their own separate test, which failed. Then they're like, oh well let's do it anyway! And you find a way to blame Halliburton in that?

  • by cusco (717999) <brian...bixby@@@gmail...com> on Friday November 12, 2010 @11:54AM (#34207914)
    The Press Corps(e) wants to dumb down the news as much as possible, they can't include too many bad guys in the story without confusing the sheeple. Not many people have heard of Transocean or Mitsui (even I had never heard of Anadarko), and most only associate Haliburton with the Iraq fiasco. Everyone knows that BP is an oil company, the disaster is on an oil platform, so BP is the designated villain for this story. Sad but true.
  • by fat4eyes (1233086) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:10PM (#34208122)
    The same reason why you get charged for manslaughter if you run over someone with a rented car: you were driving.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:43PM (#34208556)
    It has nothing to do with BP being foreign. I suspect that most Americans think BP is an American company (I know at least one slashdotter wanted Congress to confiscate all of BP's assets). BP gets all of the blame because it serves the interests of several groups (much of the press, some politicians. etc) to have a single"villain".
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:57PM (#34208748) Homepage

    "Oh, shut up! It's obvious to anyone with an IQ above single digits that the constant sniping at BP is nothing but a xenophobic witch-hunt, fomented by a faltering White House to distract attention from their own failings."

    I thought you were kidding, but reading your other posts makes it clear you were being serious. I guess it's not just religious fundamentalists whose thoughts are indistinguishable from parody.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:01PM (#34211376)

    So you value money over moral or ethical actions, awesome.

    I considered it, but buying into BP would probably impact my ability to sleep at night.

    Have fun with your blood money.

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