BP to Blame Engineers for Blowout

Jim Brown
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In news leaked on Monday BP is planning on blaming its own engineers for bad decisions that led to the explosion on the Horizon. In addition to blaming their own people BP investigators are also blaming Transocean for not having the blow out preventer recertified in recent years.

The 200 page report that Mark Bly compiled, now being called the Bly Report, will say that BP engineers misinterpreted test data from a pressure test and concluded the well was safe to complete when it was actually in the process of a blowout.

The false reading on the test led engineers to begin removing the heavy drilling mud from the well and replacing it with seawater. The lighter seawater could not hold back the high pressure release of gas and oil from the bottom of the well.

A federal investigative panel has been focusing on how BP employees aboard the rig and in Houston failed to detect signals that the well was about to erupt. They are also struggling to understand why the BP team leader on the project ignored warnings of a potential blowout from Halliburton employees and why there was no test run on the casing cement job, which is supposed to prevent gas from escaping from the well and onto the rig.

The lack of a cement test is a glaring error that could have pointed to the impending blowout in time for rig workers to stop it. The chairman of the federal panel pointed out last week that five of the twelve BP managers on the rig had been on their jobs for less than six months.

BP plans to release the Bly Report within the next ten days. Mark Bly is the head of safety and operations for BP. Bly and his team spent the last three months intervewing BP vice presidents, offshore managers and engineers in the Houston office who designed the well and workers on the Horizon rig.

Several BP workers and managers have been put on "administrative" leave pending the release of the report. According to BP anyone who was implicated in the many bad decisions would be fired. Donald Vidrine, the senior manager on the project and was responsible for interpreting the test data on the well has been put on leave. I would say his future in the energy business is bleak. I hope he is on suicide watch as well.

The efforts to extract the failed blow out preventer and replace it with a new one have been put on hold for three days due to weather issues. Waves in the area are up to eight feet and are expected to continue for three days. The swap of the BOP should occur this weekend and the relief well is now scheduled to restart drilling on Labor Day.

Cameron International lost its bid on Monday to delay the removal of the BOP in order to photograph and record the current conditions of the BOP before it is removed from the well and brought to the surface. Cameron had requested a district court issue an order delaying the removal.

The "Unified Command" and the FBI were also concerned about preservation of the evidence but the judge said the concerns were secondary to securing the well in order to prevent another oil spill. The various parties are in disagreement as to where the BOP should be stored once it is removed and how it should be autopsied in order to preserve the evidence. Until such time as a procedure can be determined the BOP will be loaded on a barge and taken to the NASA facility in eastern New Orleans for temporary storage. This is the proverbial smoking gun and could solve the blame game depending on what investigator s find. This device will have more scrutiny than the remains of a plane crash since there is $20-$50 billion in damages at stake.

Jim Brown

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