[From Billlifka, posted by Ira with his permission. Image added by Ira.] Federal officials continue to act like bungling fools so much they overshadow the BP dummies. The good news about the bad guys at BP is that many will lose their jobs and their company will lose much money on spilled oil and cleanup. Let’s hope it doesn’t take so much money that the company declares bankruptcy. If that were to happen, the company could not be forced to pay claimants what they deserve. Congress and President Obama might want to keep that in mind.
It’s useful to remember how badly BP screwed up. They used the “long string” design, one of two drilling options. That option is cheaper and faster but is inherently riskier because it allows a dangerous pathway for gas to rise outside the pipe. The alternative has more places that prevent gas flowing uncontrolled. BP maintains there is nothing inherently unsafe in long string design. However, most oil exploration companies avoid using the technique except in wells that have been proven to be low pressure. The Deepwater Horizon well was exploratory and (obviously) high pressure. BP used long string design on 35% of its Gulf wells since 2003; Chevron has 15%; Shell has 8%; BHP Billiton has 4%. BP has been fined for safety violations hundreds of times more than its competitors in the Gulf, another sign of poor operating practices. As bad as that may be, BP’s continuing operations were approved by the federal government.
It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of drilling operations in the Gulf are safe and those that require rechecking are of the long string variety and especially if they’re BP’s. Obama’s action was to close down all of them for some undefined period subject to some undefined re-approval process. This exacerbates economic impact on Gulf States at a particularly bad time for America. At this writing, a federal judge has ruled against the legality of Obama’s moratorium. The Justice Department is scrambling to appeal the ruling and rephrase moratorium language that might pass legal scrutiny. Sea bottom for the Deepwater Horizon well was 5000+ feet. The moratorium was for all drilling over 500 feet.
BP and other oil drillers have been bashed for having near identical and inadequate cleanup plans in event of spillage. It has been revealed, reluctantly, that all companies were required to submit a plan that addressed, precisely, the federal model for oil leakage. It has turned out that the model is grossly in error. Each of the oil companies’ cleanup plan was approved by the feds. When all is considered, it’s hard to blame the oil companies for more than 50% of this deficiency. This is not to give the oil companies a free pass, but to criticize the popular view that federal regulatory action is the solution to problems. The most regulated industries in America are the banking and petroleum industries. We’ve had the banking failure and now this. We need more regulation?
As a typical political response, Obama has appointed a committee to investigate the disaster and recommend action. All members are academics without appropriate technical knowledge.
Information keeps leaking, along with the crude oil. At least thirteen countries offered the use of their specialized cleanup capabilities immediately after the explosion. The feds refused. A 1920 bill called the Jones Act prohibits the use of foreign vessels and crews laboring in U.S. waters. It was designed to please American Unions. Although Bush II exempted Katrina cleanup efforts from this outdated legislation, Obama’s people chose to favor the unions over the environment.
[From Billlifka, posted by Ira with his permission. Image added by Ira.]