The Inside Skinny on Offshore Regulation
Amidst the puffing, pontificating and finger-pointing in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, two large questions loom: Who will the Feds hold accountable? How can our government assure us that a big oil spill will never happen again? Quick answers, with a caveat (I’m an engineer, not a lawyer): BP, as operator. They can’t, and we should not expect them to.
Obama’s Oil Spill Dilemma
For the last fifteen years, I’ve been the operations manager for a small Gulf of Mexico oil and gas company. I’ve had more than a few sleepless nights in that time, whether it be worrying about a problem well, a reported accident or an impending hurricane. Since Barack Obama has assumed full accountability for the outcome of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of | Read More »
Man-Made Calamity to Hit LA, Gulf Coast
It’s worse than a hurricane or an oil spill. This one’s intentional and man-made, done with the stroke of a pen. It will cripple our region. Sec. Salazar Details Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Moratorium Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters this afternoon that the Obama Administration is ordering a moratorium on all off-shore oil and gas drilling activity from floating drilling rigs until the | Read More »
MMS Chief Out: ‘Heckuva Job, Lizzie!’
President Obama, quick to criticize George W. Bush for his appointment of a lightly-qualified Michael Brown as FEMA director, apparently learned little from his predecessor’s mistake. In today’s press conference, President Obama claimed to know nothing of MMS Director Liz Birnbaum’s sudden departure. Whatever. Let’s consider Liz’s qualifications to be the head of the agency charged with regulating rigs like the Deepwater Horizon and 30% | Read More »
BP Spill Update: Top Kill Working?
This is certainly good news. There are signs that the “top kill” operations may be effective, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told NPR. He is in Houma, Louisiana, meeting with local officials and residents. “Since yesterday afternoon, British Petroleum and their subcontractors have been pumping a heavy mud down into the well bore below the blowout preventer, and over the course of the last 12 | Read More »
Acoustic Switches, Oil Spills and Wikipedia Experts
The Daily Beast’s Rick Outzen is like a dog with a bone. Rick (along with a legion of other self-imagined experts on the ‘net) is getting a lot of mileage out of the notion that an acoustic switch (see diagram below the fold) might have averted disaster on the Deepwater Horizon: We know that the Deepwater well lacked the remote-control, acoustical valve [sic] that experts | Read More »
About Those Oil Rig S.W.A.T. Teams…
With great fanfare, President Obama dispatched Interior Department “S.W.A.T Teams” to all 29 active deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Their charge: Perform a thorough, complete drilling inspection of each deepwater rig. Key on the BOP [blowout preventer] test time frame, leaks and resolution, discrepancies, and repairs. Make sure well control drills were performed as required by 30 CFR 250.462. What’s that? You | Read More »
Deepwater Well Construction 101
By any measure, the construction of a deepwater well involves “Extreme Engineering”. And like other applications of technology at the frontier of knowledge, proper operating practices are often a response to failure, and examination of lessons learned. The Deepwater Horizon disaster represents the first time deepwater drillers have experienced multiple failures of the redundant systems that are designed to keep a well from flowing uncontrollably. | Read More »
Oil Spill Reality Check, Part II
The Exxon Valdez, it ain’t. But when I say that, itseems to upset some people. Only by being rational about assessing the environmental threat from the Deepwater Horizon spill can we be prepared to deal with the consequences. Journalists, scientists, Congressmen and bureaucrats have been jockeying to see who can make the most calamitous prediction. As an engineer, I compulsively check their claims (because I | Read More »
When all you have is a hammer…
Christopher Brownfield suggests ‘Nuke the Oil Spill’ in today’s Daily Beast. Christopher Brownfield is a former nuclear submarine officer, an Iraq veteran, and a visiting scholar on nuclear policy at Columbia University. (I’ve gotta stop reading the Daily Beast. It’s driving me nuts.)
‘It’s Bush’s Oil Spill’
It’s a lie, a gross distortion or a paranoid delusion. Take your pick. In a Daily Beast article, blogger Matthew Yglesias does his best to shoehorn a few bits of truth into the Obama gang’s favorite narrative: “It’s Bush’s fault!” In making his argument that the blowout and spill resulted from lax enforcement by the Minerals Management Service, Yglesias focuses on a program known as | Read More »
Consider the Source.
Yesterday FoxNews.com carried an opinion piece written by your humble correspondent: “We Can’t Stop Drilling Off America’s Shores”. It’s sort of a rewrite of a RedState piece from a couple of weeks back: “Q: Why Was BP Drilling in 5,000 Feet of Water.” Some of the comments are a hoot.
Oh, the Humanity! Part II – Invasion of the Tarballs
Uh, there have been six so far, each about the size of a golf ball. ON THE GULF OF MEXICO — A Coast Guard official says tar balls that are believed to be from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are washing up on Dauphin Island. Coast Guard chief warrant officer Adam Wine said about a half-dozen tar balls had been collected by this afternoon on | Read More »
Oh, the Humanity! Birds, Turtles and the Oil Spill
Day #8 of wildlife rescue response to the BP oil spill, and Oiled Bird #2 has been rescued. That’s not to imply that there’s no threat to the bird population, however. It’s nesting season in the refuge. In response to the threat, the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command issued the following press release: Due to heightened interest in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, media aircraft have | Read More »
How to Stop an Oil Spill
Straight from the Gaian People’s Republic of Boulder comes this fresh idea for stopping the flow of oil from the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico: meditation! “The basic concept is to try and get as many people to visualize that the valve is actually functioning and is working and closing,” said Carl Fuermann, a staff member in the University of Colorado’s Registrar Office. | Read More »