Latest October 9th 2010
APRIL 29th 2010
You can read and hear all about this so I will not repeat the obvious.
The sea floor where this well was drilled is very deep. The emergency
shut-down mechanisms in the heart of the well failed. It is
impossible to get at it to cap it at that depth and the violence of
the high-pressure rush of oil would make it difficult at any depth. So
regardless of any extra drilling to try to divert and control the
output, which will take a long time, there will have to be
extraordinary measures put in hand to contain the oil which will
continue to emerge.in an uncontrolled way.
is clearly aware of the seriousness of the situation and is going to
put all his nation's available intellectual, technical and financial
resources onto the job. That is what makes this a really interesting
case. We shall now see exactly what that means. George Bush would no
doubt be flying over the scene telling us somebody was doing a great
job. I think Obama has enough imagination to grasp the problem without
adding to the work and an administration sufficiently awake to assist
BP in minimizing the damage. But it will be Obama who will have to take
the decision when certain options are put to him on the possible
measures to be taken, how quickly they might be implemented, the cost
and and how it could be borne and over what period of time. Time is of
MAY 1st 2010
I have headed this "The BP Oil Leak" because it is BP who is the
big player who must organize the cleanup and the shut down. However,
the rig which blew is run a by a subcontractor, the biggest in the
world for these operations and a company with an excellent safety
The fishermen whose business is at risk would not have a business
customers, and their customers are dependent on oil, and oil comes from
where we find it - which now includes the sea where the fish are.
Life is risky, folk. We all share the risk. So don't let's start some
absurd blame game here unless there is a case of negligence. At the
moment there is no indication of what caused this accident. It is great
idea to stop the drilling of new wells of this type till they have
found out what went wrong - unless they don't find out and America
needs more oil and it can't get it elsewhere. In that case they will
drill again anyway while trying to put more precautions in place
regardless of what the actual cause of the accident was in this case.
BP shares have fallen quite a lot. That does not help anyone of course,
its the usual reaction of shareholders. But any share movement gives a
chance to those who deal to make money. They will spend it on more cars
and travel, increasing the demand for oil.....what's that you say? Well
yes, it will have to found in the Gulf because all this luxury
motoring, travelling and eating has made American youth so obese that
according to the generals they can't recruit a future army to secure
access to oil overseas even if they could pay for it.
MAY 16th 2010
Various attempts to put a coffer-dam over the major oil leaks and get
the oil up in a collected way failed due to ice or frozen methane
forming to block the system, however....
BP says latest scheme to halt US oil leak working well
MAY 17 2010
Let's face it, the situation is bloody awful.
MAY 22nd 2010
There has been some success in syphoning off at about 50% effectiveness
but progress has ceased, it seems, and problems persist.
The question is being asked by Americans, why is BP still in charge?
Short answer: nobody else wants to take the blame if they can't do any
....."Still, as simple as it may seem for the government to just
take over, the law prevents it, [Coastguard Commandant] Allen said.
After the 1989 Exxon
Valdez spill in Alaska,
MAY 26th 2010
According to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday,
employees of embattled oil giant BP plc admitted to Congress that the
company made a "fundamental
mistake" to continue drilling at its now-infamous Gulf of Mexico
site, despite knowing that something was seriously wrong within the
Here is the BP update page on what they are
The fact is BP management is very far removed from its field
operations. I remember the previous chairman saying he only had two or
three people who ever reported to him on a daily basis and given the
world-wide size of his company he wondered why John Prescott had to
have so many assistants just to run his government department of the
MAY 28th 2010
The latest attempt to block the leak has failed totally. The next
attempt will take several days more.
MAY 31 2010
David Strahan writing in The Independent:
"It is easy to understand American hostility to BP, but
it is fundamentally misplaced. Never mind that Transocean and
Halliburton were also involved and it seems there is plenty of blame to
go round. Never mind that more oil is spilled every year in the Niger
Delta, where Shell and Exxon are the big operators, and which supplies
40 per cent of US oil imports, without a peep of American protest.
Never mind that despite the hyperventilation the slick is still
relatively small by historical and international comparison. The plain
fact is BP is not uniquely culpable, just unlucky. "
Read the full article, carefully, as it is
not about bad luck or excuses but contains a lot of hard fact.
Culpability is as spread as sub-prime mortgages.
There was no single villain in the Credit Crunch and sub-prime fiasco,
and there is no single company or administrator specially to blame in
this case. A flock of sheep is a flock of sheep, moved by the classical
forces, whoever happens to be the current ram. But read the article, As Strahan
points out this is a small oil field and far from the deepest:
"It could have been so much worse. Had BP suffered a
similar accident while drilling for Tiber, a three-billion-barrel field
it discovered in the Gulf of Mexico last year under two miles of water, reservoir
pressures and oil volumes would have been far higher, and there would
be many fewer remotely operated submarines capable of working at this
JUNE 03 2010
Now it is time to dish out some advice (I assume you have read the
article linked above).
First of all I would advise all those busy selling BP shares to stop
doing that right now.
Second, I would advise all those hoping to bring down the company as an
act of revenge, to sue it into bankruptcy, not only to forget it but to
realise that BP is the source of proper compensation and the less of
this wasted on the legal profession, or on insurance companies and
their administrators, the better. Look after this company. It is part
of your salvation in the short, medium and long term.
BP is a large, coherent and responsible organization. It is the
organization that will clean up the mess and it is the company that
will look after the proper claims for damages. The most important
claimants are the small ones with no financial margin, and the critical
ones that interconnect with many other systems we rely on. In the short
term, government and local government and to the extent possible
insurance companies should act quickly, helpfully, with out holding the
weapon of 'full-and-final-settlement to the head of claimants unless
there is mutual agreement so to do. In the short, medium and long term,
BP can see it through.
There is a chance the uncontrolled spilling of oil into the Gulf of
Mexico can be stopped fairly soon if they can cap the end of the pipe
where they have finally managed to cut it (with difficulty, and
crookedly). That it will be stopped somehow is certain. Then we have to
try to collect, contain and destroy the oil that cannot be recovered
for use. That will be done by bacteria whose discovery I remember some
time in the 1950s. Since then, scientists have learned how to supply
these bacteria with sufficient nitrogen and phosphorous, which they
need as energy supply, to keep them going in a massive oil slick or
cloud. These bacteria do that, and just that. They occur naturally. All
we need to do is manage them.
I hesitate to repeat a recent UK political slogan but it is a fact, we
are all in this together. Suing each other only gives money to people
who have too much of it already and solves nothing if it harms the
company that alone has the resources and the long term income to pay
for its unfortunate accident.
Nevertheless, the Chief Executive of BP who said yesterday 'I want my
life back' should certainly be sacked for that statement alone. This IS
your life mate, get used to it. Or rather it should have been your life
but clearly wasn't. You should have asked yourself every day 'what if?'
and had plans ready. You had none. Just another greasy pole climber.
Now bugger off and
do what amuses you and don't do a Fred-the-Shred on us either.
JUNE 10th 2010
Now we have President Obama and various Americans playing the idiot.
Since it is BP that will be paying some hefty bills and organizing
cleanups of the past and funding new methods for safety in the future,
what is the point in trying deliberately to cripple the company by
frightening investors world-wide into selling their shares, so that the
only winners are some dealing-room aces. The payment of dividends to
shareholders is not what would limit BP's responsibility or ability to
do the right thing. Now would be the time for Obama, a man with a brain
and a mouth, to put them both to intelligent use. I have to say, as a
strong Obama supporter, I am staggered by his failure to give some
leadership here. This is a big mistake.
JUNE 11th 2010
I have to admit that our media and politicians have been getting it
right for a change. All that I would have said has been said. The BP
board and chairman are at fault for not planning for the worst case
scenario. Surely we are all familiar with Murphy and his law, so the
fault lies in the management structure. I already had a go at them
about this in the days of Brown (is that spelled with an 'e'?). Where
are the guys who are supposed to be thinking the unthinkable and having
5 minutes every day with the chairman and CEO if neither of these is
capable of thinking for themselves? Why was the CEO left out to
dry in the US when he was so clearly NOT the man to handle the
PR? The technical management of the crisis, while the efforts of
those doing the work has been heroic, still leaves a lot to be desired.
Any fool could have seen they would need more than one tanker to take
on the oil they collected in the event that their cap worked. Maybe
they put efforts in hand to charter one immediately and there are not
any available, but it seems to the average member of the public that
they underestimate every single issue by massive amounts.
That said, the best way forward is not the destruction or take-over of
BP but the employment of its assets, human and other, on the business
As to UK-US relations I am going to open a file on what has been called
The Special Relationship soon. It is going to define it in its current
reality once and for all. Where it now goes is important, and that
depends on understanding where it has come from and is now.
JUNE 12 2010
Er... yes... some diplomatic language was needed. It's OK for me to
people idiots but our PM has quite rightly realized that even American
Presidents can make mistakes (in fact it seems to be an occupational
hazard) and rubbing it in is not a good idea. Personally I thought when
we had seen the back of George Bush we might have also said goodbye to
'ass-kicking' and the rest of the recent dismal US rhetoric that that
would have made Harry Truman cringe. It seems once a man gets into that
oval office it really does go to his or her head. I much preferred
'speak softly and carry big stick', an old African saying quoted by Ted
Roosevelt, however, these days the big stick
is not such a good idea either as, in a globalized world, any head you
break or ass you kick turns out to be your own. [I get a nasty feeling there are some
horrible double-entendres hidden there, probably unintentional - Ed.]
It turns out there some unpleasant Texan vultures hoping to get BP's
liabilities jacked up to such a level that the share values go right
down and they will then mount a take-over, hoping that the actual
liabilities will take decades to be paid and that they can safely take
on the devalued company and the liabilities while laughing all the way
to one of those banks they run so well. In my opinion the best way
forward is still to involve as few lawyers and insurance companies as
possible and let BP pursue a profitable future from which to pay the
immediate, short and longer term costs. The fewer parasites involved,
JUNE 14th 2010
I remain an Obama supporter as the alternatives are seriously
unattractive, but what is going on in this man's head? Likening this
oil spill, hurtful though it is, to the attack on the World Trade
Centre is not only meaningless but, if were to be taken seriously,
damagingly misleading. It is a self-inflicted wound. Fortunately I note
that the US media has largely ignored this part of his address to the
nation, presumably out of embarrassment. The less said on this
additional lapse the better.
JUNE 15th 2010
That's more like it. Today Obama addressed America from the White
House. He covered the issue, and he made it clear the best brains and
all the nations resources were brought to bear on stopping the oil and
90% of the leak would be plugged in 2 weeks and the rest by August.
Meantime massive resources were being deployed to limit the damage.
Finally, BP would be putting money into a fund to be administered
independently administered to assess and pay damages and compensation.
The company would be held liable to provide the funding and an expert
committee would be set up to establish the precise causes of and
responsibility for the events which caused the initial explosion and
the failure of safety systems. There will be a six-month suspension of
deep-sea drilling while new regulations are established in the light of
a new assessment of risks and measures are agreed to ensure regulations
are enforced. Now perhaps all those involved can get on with what needs
to be done. BP will decide if suspending its dividend is more or less
helpful to meeting its cash flow liabilities to the damages fund. It
might, or might not be. Personally I hope the dividend will be paid,
not that I hold any shares myself.
The only thing wrong with the above announcement by Obama is the
6-month moratorium on deep-sea wells. That will bring a commercial
shutdown to the businesses including fishing that is dependent on the
local oil business, as well as putting the oil-men out of work. 6
months is too long.
JUNE 16th 2010
I agree with David Ignatius. Other commentators did not allow Obama
much slack or appear to feel he had taken charge. I disagree, I think
he is getting his head around the problem - which is BP in some
respects if it comes to any short-cuts they may have taken in a well
that they knew was on the limit and needed every safety precaution
possible - and in other respects his own countrymen and women. Both of
the aforementioned are also the only assets he has to deal with the
problem. So, they both need looking after, and told how to behave. In a
democracy, his countrymen have the choice of who tells them how to
behave, so they are free to get it wrong.
is one of the few to see much to
welcome in the president's remarks:
"Obama was right to say that we are drilling a mile deep in
the gulf because we are exhausting, with our voracious energy appetite,
safer sources on land or in shallow water. And he was especially right
to say that the nightmare of the Gulf oil spill won't end until we find
alternatives to our economic dependence on fossil fuels...I liked him
better Tuesday night than I have in a while - tired, beat-up
politically, but not playing to the crowd with easy put-downs of BP CEO
Tony Hayward or profit-mongering Big Oil. There's a glimmer of real
leadership there, but not yet the bright beam."
BP is to put £13.5 billion into the
Compensation Fund. That should be no problem for them, there is no need
to put it all in at once or twice as fast as it can be spent, though
the first payment of £5 billion can go in right now. It will be
interesting to see how much prestige money goes on administration fees
which no doubt the administrators will be happy to claim, as
well as on considerable administration costs which will involve a great
deal of work. Quis custodiet....etc. We are told these guys are so clever.
BP on their part have offered to set up an additional $100,000,000 fund
to help those put out of work in the gulf region as result of the leak,
and is waving the dividend to shareholders. That is for them to judge
and clearly they feel this gesture is needed, i.e. that some
shareholders should pay a penalty. Complex logic here. Shareholders to
blame for board's failings? Sharing the pain of victims?
JUNE 17th 2010
Here's a good update article on what happens next. Amongst other
actions BP is going to sell $10 billion of it's $250 billion+ assets
'as part of the deal'. I wonder what that means, if it means anything
more than a good idea, at a time when such assets are at a high value,
to raise cash.
We have now heard quite a lot of the Congressional grilling of Tony
Hayward, and I have to say it has been powerful but very fair. It may
be that some of the introductory speeches were a bit over the top, but
that remains to be seen. As far as the questions put to Hayward, who
gives his testimony under oath, they were very much to the point and
all need answers. Some of these he was able to give but, on the details
of the accident and its causes, he was not prepared to prejudge the
results of the ongoing enquiry. It is clear that although as CEO for
the last three years he had focused on safety and change many
procedures and personnel, he was not either personally involved in or
even aware of the decisions taken on the drilling of this well.
This brings me back to the criticism I made of the previous CEO and
Chairman of BP - the top of this huge company that drills hundreds of
wells every year relies on the safety and policy directives issued at
the top being followed right down the the pyramid. Decisions take at
the drilling site in this case were the outcome of meetings on the site
between the staff of BP, TransOcean and Haliburton. Plans were approved
by the Minerals Management Service of the US Government.
Much has been made in the questioning of time and money allegedly saved
by BP by making certain decisions than in hindsight appear to have
compromised safety. However, the money saved was derisory from BP's
point of view, Can it be that the money saved made was far more
important to some individuals in the subcontractors who had clauses in
their contracts than it was to BP? Is the Hayward the right man
to answer these questions? He seems to have had very little to do with
this well before it blew up. Are the people who could really answer
these questions still alive? Congress already has the answers he can
give, namely that BP will cap the well and stop the leak, clean up the
mess and pay billions in compensation; but this session is trying to
get answers about what happened and why, and only those who were
present at all the stages of planning and operations can give those
answers. Hayward was present at NONE, nor was he informed about them.
The session will resume later today.
The questioning got tougher as time went on.
On the matter on which I originally castigated BP - the lack of a plan
to put into operation immediately in the event of a blowout and a total
failure of the blowout prevention mechanism on a well this deep - we
learned that every oil company was in the same situation. The plans
they had were all identical and inadequate. This was known to them all
and to the US Government's Minerals Management Service. It was
therefore a risk accepted (no longer now) as a matter of national
policy until dependence on deep sea oil exploration ended. Bear in mind
this well was exploratory and the operation in hand was the closing of
the well for future use as and when required. However, the lack of a
plan, which I found reprehensible in the circumstances, cannot be
attributed to a failure on BP's part. They were taking part in a
government approved exploration programme with known risks, accepted by
both Republicans and Democrats in so far as they are unmoved by the
need to migrate to a new energy policy.
On the operation of the exploration and the capping of the well,
however, there are questions that BP needs to answer.
1. The Blowout Preventer being used had been given an added
modification - a 'Test Ram' if I heard correctly - at BP's specific
request. In one reading of the facts this marginally affected the
'risk profile' of the mechanism. It is not clear if this actually made
it any more likely to fail in practice, though this was assumed by the
inquisitor. It may for all we know at this stage have been a sensible
addition enhancing safety, regardless of the 'risk profile'.This
therefore has to be clarified, as do the possible 'failure modes' of
the device which were listed.
2. Tony Hayward quite rightly held that the people to take the
decisions on all technical matters involved in the drilling of the well
were the expert crew from BP, Haliburton and TransOcean who were on the
rig and had the knowledge and experience required. Members of Congress
seemed surprised that neither the CEO or those directly responsible to
him were involved in these decisions. Hayward himself was not even
aware the operations before before the accident but had been informed
when they struck oil. Normally I would support
Hayward's position, an airline pilot would not call on the CEO of an
airline or any of his minions to give advice on the operation of a
flight in progress.
September 2009, the same rig, Deepwater Horizon, had successfully
drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of
35,050 ft (10,680 m) and measured depth of 35,055 ft
It is not a given that the expert and experienced crew on the rig, when
it moved to the Macondo Prospect in February 2010, would ask for
instructions or, when decisions had to be made, would call the CEO for
However, in view of the known lack of a plan to deal with an
unstoppable blowout, a fact that should have been at the forefront of
the CEO's thinking and right in the centre of the area of management
he, not the men on the rig, should be responsible for, he should have
set up a procedure to ensure that someone who reported to him regularly
was in the loop at rig level and aware of any unusual difficulties.
There were some unusual occurrences in this case and if, as he
maintains, he was determined to make BP's safety record come up to the
highest standards, he should have appointed the right people to advise
him. He is sure he had the right people on the rig to manage the
drilling and until it is shown they made the wrong decisions he stands
by those decisions. The investigations now in course will enable us, we
hope, to reach conclusions on this and he has said that if there was
any evidence of cost-cutting to the detriment of safety he will take
The opinion of the media is that the Congressional interrogation was a
PR disaster for Hayward and BP. Well, if the media think that, then it
was. All I saw, with very few noble exceptions, was a lot of
politicians hoping their constituents were watching them grandstanding.
They claimed they were trying to get at the facts, but they will have
to wait for those. At the moment, we do not know if there are any
actions that could have been taken at the time, on the rig, more likely
to avoid a blowout. If there were not, there may need to be some
changes more than those suggested by Exxon and others that 'they would
not have done it that way'.
JUNE 18th 2010
In a paradoxical twist, one member of the congressional examiners
apologized to Hayward for what he called a 'shakedown' with respect to
the setting up of the $20 billion compensation fund. Another member had
referred to it as a 'slush fund'. But Hayward and BP have made it clear
they are not acting under duress in any way. They expect to pay for the
damage and hope to be allowed to do so by continuing their worldwide
operations. The allegation and the apology have subsequently been
JUNE 20th 2010
Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, is of the opinion that Tony
Hayward is not allowed one or two days off, the first in many weeks
since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, too see his family and his yacht
in the Isle of Wight. I can't see the logic in this. He has just handed
over management of the cleanup, and the proper management of anyone's
mental capabilities is best served by the occasional break. The only
bad PR that can arise is if someone wishes deliberately to cause harm
by implying it is bad behaviour. Rahm Emmanuel's own PR rating, and
usefulness, goes down sharply in the estimation of most people. Another
conceited American with an overblown idea of his own persona and
JUNE 22nd 2010
BP To Donate Net Revenue From MC252 Well Leak To
National Fish and Wildlife Foundatione - 22 June 2010. Today
BP announced that it will donate the net revenue it receives from the
sale of oil recovered from the MC252 spill to the National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
Does that mean the oil recovered during the crisis while it leaks, or
also all future oil from that well when it is reopened some time in the
future under proprt control? If it is the latter, the National Fish and
Wildlife foundation will bless the day Deepwater Horizon exploded.
I am still trying to find out what 'testing' the blowout preventer,
which Transocean say they did shortly before it failed, really means.
What is a 'test ram', did the fitting of it really make failure more
likely or not?
I am in favour of lifting the ban on drilling in the gulf immediately
providing some increased safety standards are set with the knowledge
gained from the Deepwater Horizon accident and others worldwide. It
will be costly and more bureaucratic and complex but all the more
reason to get on with it.
We should not forget that in the1980s BP was an early supporter of
taking serious measures to research and deal with the threats of
climate change, when virtually the whole of the US was in denial.
JUNE 24th 2010
NEW ORLEANS – Earlier this month, BP boldly predicted the
oil gushing from the bottom of the sea would be reduced to a "relative
trickle" within days, and President Barack Obama told the nation last
week that as much as 90 percent would soon be captured. But those goals
seemed wildly optimistic Thursday after yet another setback a mile
That's all we need with a potential hurricane forming out to the
A recent update on progress
JULY 12th 2010
Some better news...a new cap on the well, and a new tanker to collect
the oil should see all the escaping pollutant being captured before too
BP shares rose today, Monday, on the news
Update on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill - 12 July: Installation
Sealing Cap and Helix Producer Containment Update with Kent
Wells - 10 July: Kent Wells provides a technical update on
the installation sequence of the new sealing cap and briefly discusses
the status of the Helix Producer containment option and relief well
JULY 13th 2010
JULY 14th 2010
Today, the planned test and closure of the newly fitted cap has been
hold. US Government appointed experts have decided the risk of the rise
in pressure, even with the current piped exits to the tankers in place
to capture the proportion of oil already being recuperated daily, is
not neglible. To this end seismic readings are being taken in an
attempt to seek and analyse any weakness in the well lining. If closing
the well apart from the existing controlled exits should cause
ruptures below the sea-bed, the situation could be yet more difficult.
I think this caution is justified. Personally I would try to set up
more controlled exits using the new capping attachment if there is any
doubt and treat the well as an unstoppable source until the new relief
wells have been finished to tap in well down the vertical extent of the
path to the oil bed. However, if BP and the US experts can come to any
agreement on the next steps and the timing, that is what we must go
with. A good debate should lead to a resolution.
11:30pm BST - They are going ahead with the test with precautions. Good
JULY 14th 2010
A leak has been discovered near the new cap. This will have to be
repaired before further closing of the flow.
meantime here are some more details
JULY 15th 2010
The leak has been checked and the pressure test is going ahead.
Meantime this is the most absurd thing to come out of half-witted
Good grief, Charlie Brown. Yeah, sure, England's the enemy (according
some US politicians speaking on TV last night) - and all the time you
thought it was al Qaida.
Mind you, our patience is not completely limitless, but that will not
be put to the test. Nature's patience is not completely limitless.
Success has always been conditional on this planet. Don't get me wrong,
I still believe in sane Americans.
JULY 16 - See yesterday and the latest accusation: that BP is
responsible for getting the Lockerbie Bomber out of jail. Our Yorkshire
windbag William Hague has just agreed with
Hilary Clinton that the release of Al Magrahi was 'a mistake'. If by
that he means based on a medical error, that is possible. If he means
it was a wrong decision on other grounds, not at all. It was obvious a
long time ago that Megrahi was just a pawn in the process, with nothing
significant to do with either the planning or the execution. But
neither that, nor political pressure had anything to do with the
decision to send him home to die. I recommend Clinton listen carefully
the Scots Attorney General's decision, again. It was done on
humanitarian grounds, specifically in rebuttal of the inhuman action of
deliberately bringing down a civil airliner. The US is, as we know,
still a very Old Testament country. It was good to know Scotland has
JULY 17th 2010
So far so good on the well cap. However it would seem the pressure
built up is slightly less than was expected. We wait to be told if this
is a good or bad result. If it is not enough to pump oil through the
pipes going to the waiting tankers, but also not an indication of oil
escaping from leaks lower down below the sea-bed, it could mean BP has
the best of both worlds, with no need to keep tankers on standby
through the hurricane season, and certainly not after the relief wells
have been driven and capped with secure and operable means to take oil
off in the future after the original well has been safely stoppered
with concrete. At leasthat is my off-the-cuff guesswork as to what is
JULY 18th 2010
Here is a decent explanation of the current situation, though I wish
commentators and participants could stop thinking about anything except
the best ecological outcome and the most stable outcome in the long
term compatible with that.
JULY 19th 2010
The problem in more detail...
But....10:30pm BST it seems the methane detected is not very near or
related to the well. That's better news. The cap may be OK left in
JULY 27th 2010
27 July 2010
Last updated at 15:50
BP to emerge 'smaller and
JULY 31 2010
Preparing to seal the well http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100731/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill
AUGUST 4th 2010
a milestone, BP PLC said mud that was forced down the well was holding
back the flow of crude and it was in a "static condition."
House energy adviser Carol Browner said on morning TV talk shows that a
new assessment found that about 75 percent of the oil has either been
captured, burned off, evaporated or broken down in the Gulf.
That now leaves the perhaps tricky job of
joining the relief wells to the low part of the original shaft and
blocking it definitively with cement, and ensuring that the remaining
25% of the escaped oil is cleaned off beaches, material and vegetation
or broken down by bacteria.
AUGUST 6th 2020
Not the end, but the beginning of the end, leaving a few unknowns about
the effects of the recent diet on fish and microorganisms.
AUGUST 17th 2010
What lies beneath?
August 19th 2010
Contrary to the reports and speculation that a huge quantity of oil
remmains under the water in a large plume at depth, it now appears that
this represents a small fraction of the oil that escaped. Remarkably,
most of the oil has indeed broken down and disappeared. What is left is
breaking down more slowly but it also appears that the toxins are in
very low concentration. No cause for complacency, and everything must
be done to avoid damage, but there is reason to be hopeful that this is
really better news.
SEPTEMBER 8th 2010
The BP report on the causes for the blowout is published today.
The analysis and recommendations may be of help to the industry as a
whole. The contents of the report is roughly as expected but there are
details of actual behaviour on the rig that are not fully covered. Most
data in the report is not disputed between the parties other than one:
that the design was faulty, and that is a matter of opinion.
The operators and contractors claim they just did as asked. But the
data itself puts this in doubt. These are the key points when it comes
to attributing blame:
1. Haliburton did a substandard cement job which of itself caused the
start of the blowout. Had they done it properly, this blowout would
never have happened.
2. Transocean, Haliburton and BP employees do not appear to have
reacted for 40 minutes to pressure indications which, if acted upon
would have enabled manual and probably successful actions to operate
the blowout prevention device.
3. It is possible that the combination of the above two failures
allowed debris to interfere with the automatic function of the blowout
Conclusion: there is a share of responsibility here. The opinion of
Haliburton and Transocean that the design was faulty does not look like
a runner when it comes to absolving them of two thirds of the
responsibility and maybe very much more, even if it was true, which it
very probably isn't. That is unless they can prove that BP was
responsible also for all their bad decisions and failures, a line which
they now appear to be taking. I don't find that likely, but hey, let's
try to find out.
There is of course the argument that BP is wholly responsible in any
case as it is the company that chose the contractors and carries the
can. That overlooks a fact of life: that we subcontract to experts who
are more qualified in important areas than we are ourselves. I can
choose and accountant and a doctor and a solicitor but that does not
make me responsible for all their mistakes in operations on my behalf
unless they were acting on my explicit instructions and against
established practices which they knew to be legal standards. Regardless
of bad intentions or gross negligence, which are unlikely in this case,
back-seat drivers lacking expertise can cause accidents. No contracted
operator can blame the employer unless they can show good practice was
overruled, and in that case they need to explain why they went along.
BP immediately accepted responsibility for dealing with this mess, it
will share any proper responsibility for its cause, and so should
everyone else. Most important, BP alone is in a position to fund
compensation and will and can do so unless those unwilling to take
their proper share of blame care to see it spent on lawyers instead.
The contractors fight back:
TransOcean: "This is a self-serving report that attempts to conceal
the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo (well) incident:
BP's fatally flawed well design," the Swiss-based group said in a
Halliburton also hit back at the 193-page report.
"As we continue to review BP's internal report published earlier
today, we have noticed a number of substantial omissions and
inaccuracies in the document," it said.
"Halliburton remains confident that all the work it performed with
respect to the Macondo well was completed in accordance with BP's
specifications for its well construction plan and instructions, and
that it is fully indemnified under its contract for any of the
allegations contained in the report."
NOVEMBER 9th 2010
BP looks like coming out of this story quite well. It is back in
profit. Haliburton is taking the heat for the accident.
A US presidential commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill disaster has found no evidence to support charges that BP and its
rig partners put profits ahead of safety.The commission in its
preliminary report into the tragedy agreed with about 90pc of BP's own
findings but accused the oil giant of taking unnecessary risks in its
attempts to halt the flow of oil from the damaged well.
DECEMBER 17th 2010
Oh that's all we needed. The US Government has decided to SUE all the
companies involved in the Macondo blowout. How utterly childish. If
they want to get the maximum compensation for the people who deserve
it, this is so not the way to do it. They need strong companies to
divvy up the cash, as much and as long as is needed, by showing what is
needed and why. No doubt they think that this will stop the
buck-passing and speed up the money - I seriously doubt that. A
lawyers' bonanza and grandstanding for political bores.