‘Son of Moratorium’ Exposes Clueless Dem Leadership
A “new and improved” version of Secretary Salazar’s Deepwater offshore drilling ban was unveiled today. There seems to be little practical difference between this ban and the one that has been stayed by the courts as “arbitrary and capricious”. That hasn’t deterred Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) from opening his yap and exposing his utter lack of a grasp on the issue, quite a gaffe for | Read More »
All Offshore Wells Are Not Created Equal
Environmentalists and the Obama Administration consider all offshore wells to be equally risky, but it’s important to recognize the relative risk of grossly dissimilar types of wells. Congress is considering a proposal to remove liability limits for all offshore well operators. That provision would effectively limit offshore operations to those companies big enough to self-insure: BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, maybe ConocoPhillips, and the foreign national | Read More »
Obama’s Stacked Deck
When President Obama named the members of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, he left little to chance. Although the Executive Order which created the Commission allowed that its membership … shall be drawn from among distinguished individuals, and may include those with experience in or representing the scientific, engineering, and environmental communities, the oil and gas industry, | Read More »
A Little Perspective on the BP Spill
The New Orleans Superdome is pretty big. According to an article this week in the Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, LA), the amount of oil spilled from the BP Macondo well so far would fill up one-seventh (1/7th) of the volume of the Superdome. Here’s a view of the Superdome from the air, at a scale of 1:2,500. Note the bar for scale. (First four images from | Read More »
BREAKING: Judge Blocks Deepwater Drilling Moratorium
Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, hearing the case of Hornbeck v. Salazar, has blocked the President’s moratorium on all drilling in water depths greater than 500 feet. The White House is expected to appeal the ruling immediately. H/T Artie, for d’most part
BP: Observations and Ruminations
I’m no apologist for Big Oil. As a resident of South Louisiana, I’ve seen the mess that was left behind when they left for greener pastures. The simmering animosity between the “majors” and us “independents” goes back generations. They also have enough dough to carry their own water; they don’t need the help of a small fish blogger like me. That being said, the press | Read More »
Mr. Maley Goes to Washington
Colleague and occasional RS diarist Steve Maley testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on Thursday. The topic of the hearing was “The Deepwater Horizon Incident: Are the Minerals Management Service Regulations Doing the Job?” Full video of the hearing (over four hours) is available here. It featured testimony from the acting head of the MMS and the Interior Department’s Inspector General | Read More »
Drilling Moratorium Violates Panel’s Recommendation
Peer-review, schmeer-review. If Obama and Salazar wanted to cripple the domestic oil and gas industry and the very-red Gulf Coast states that depend on offshore drilling, they couldn’t find a better way to do it than to impose a six-month (at least) moratorium on all deepwater drilling, including the unprecedented step of shutting down operations on wells that were already underway. But they couldn’t just | Read More »
Deepwater Drilling Moratorium Already Kicking LA’s A$$
It will be a long time before Louisiana and the Gulf South recover from the devastation. I’m not referring to the oil spill. No, it’s the willful and senseless act of a President, desperately searching for some way to control events. It might have made sense to slow down, to reconsider safety procedures, or to step up regulatory vigilence. Instead, Obama leaped off a cliff | Read More »
What Kind of MMS Did Obama Inherit?
President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar have done their best to shift the blame of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the Bush Administration and the supposed ‘cozy relationship’ it fostered between the Minerals Management Service and the oil and gas companies it regulates. The public consciousness perceives a corrupt and incompetent agency, turning a blind eye to the shenanigans of their industry buddies. In reality: | Read More »
Oil Drilling Moratorium Blues
Thursday: Confusion was the order of the day. On Wednesday, the first new shallow-water well drilling permit was issued, to the consternation of the environmental community: “I’m outraged,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director for the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity. “How is it that shallow water drilling suddenly became safe again?” Never mind that shallow water drilling has no demonstrated problems. Since the Deepwater | Read More »
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.
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 »
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.