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Earth Software Science

Modeling Software Showed BP Cement As Unstable 160

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 thijsh ( 910751 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @10:37AM (#34206372) Journal

    So what? BP has massive amounts of money, as well as political connections out the ass.

    Something did get done. Look at the graph of BP stock []. Zoom to 1 year and notice the huge dip following april 20th. They (and their stockholders) did lose money over this...
    Beside that they also (temporarily) lost political connections, to them it's all fine when it's deals in the dark, but when the spotlight is on BP no politician wants to support them.

    So their irresponsibilty caused them to lose some of the two powers they care about, money and connections. It will make them think twice before fucking up on this scale ever again, they may not care about the environment or the fishermen, but they care about losing money and connections.

  • by The Dodger ( 10689 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @11:25AM (#34206802) Homepage

    Let's take a look at the original Oil Spill commission letter reporting back to the commissioners on the findings relating to the Halliburton cement, shall we?

    "The documents provided to us by Halliburton show, among other things, that its personnel conducted at least four foam stability tests relevant to the Macondo cement slurry. The first two tests were conducted in February 2010 using different well design parameters and a slightly different slurry recipe than was finally used. Both tests indicated that this foam slurry design was unstable.

    "Halliburton provided data from one of the two February tests to BP in an email dated March 8, 2010. The data appeared in a technical report along with other information. There is no indication that Halliburton highlighted to BP the significance of the foam stability data or that BP personnel raised any questions about it. There is no indication that Halliburton provided the data from the other February test to BP.

    "Halliburton conducted two additional foam stability tests in April, this time using the actual recipe and design poured at the Macondo well. We believe that its personnel conducted the first of these two tests on or about April 13, seven days before the blowout. Lab personnel used slightly different lab protocols than they had used in February. Although there are some indications that lab personnel may have conducted this test improperly, it once again indicated that the foam slurry design was unstable. The results of this test were reported internally within Halliburton by at least April 17, though it appears that Halliburton never provided the data to BP."

    One of the four conclusions in that letter was that "Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well."

    There's plenty of blame to go 'round. People should quit the pretence that it's all BP's fault.

  • by fat4eyes ( 1233086 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#34206968)
    The problem with threatening people with death for their crimes is that they compensate by making sure that their crimes are big enough to warrant the risk of losing their life. Killing some executive does not kill the company and its drive for profit, and the one that replaces him will just commit a bigger crime that is worth the risk of being killed. And since corporations will always be driven by profit, the only real way to prevent such negligence from happening again is to make it such that such negligence that leads to damage to other people's livelihoods is _not_ profitable. Then it's in their interest not to screw up.
  • by The Dodger ( 10689 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:14PM (#34207392) Homepage

    One significant difference between the two is that BP has accepted it's responsibility and has voluntarily waived the $75m statutory limit on monetary damages (contained in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990), instead establishing a $20bn compensation fund. And that's on top of the clean-up costs.

    Meanwhile, Halliburton and Conway are keeping their heads down, desperately hoping that no one notices that it was their cement and blowout preventer that failed to, y'know, prevent the blowout from happening in the first place.

    Note that there's a difference between responsibility and blame. BP are responsible for cleaning up the spill, because they are the operator of the lease. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are to blame for what happened (although I broadly agree that the blame is probably shared between several of the parties involved).

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:19PM (#34207454) Journal
    Wait a minute. Why is BP getting blamed for all this? Sure, they operated the well, but it was all rental equipment. Why Transocean or Hyundai getting any heat? Three quarters of the incidents on oil drilling platforms are on Transocean owned platforms, even though less than half the rigs being operated are from Transocean. Oh, and guess who manufactured the blow-out preventer on the Deep-Horizon Oil Spill. You guessed it: Transocean.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:04PM (#34208056)

    If the builder says "Yeah, sure!" and goes ahead, he can't blame the developer if the wall later collapses.

    That's not how it works. I won't bother to address whether your comment is actually related to the topic at hand, but it is wrong.

    The Kansas City Hyatt Regency. There was once a suspended walkway in this building, where essentially poles came down from the ceiling and supported a few walkways stacked on top of each other. The design called for a single beam for each pole, but the contractor decided that shorter beams would be easier to make, so they decided they could just use a pole that goes down to the top level, then one that goes between that level and the next. An engineer rubber-stamped the change.

    Long story short, that pretty much doubled the stress on the attachment points of the supports that ran to the top level, the walkways came down when people were on them, and 114 died. Several people lost their engineering licenses in the engineering firm involved, and the firm itself was shut down. As far as I can tell, the contractor was never held responsible for anything.

    Moderator hints: (Score: -1, cited real world data)

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky