Topics: Report on blowout preventer could mean design change. Blowout preventer thought to be "fail-safe" wasn't. Bob Cavnar says redesign of blowout preventer is a necessity. Chevron to drill wildcat well in Gulf. Deal between BP and Rosneft is blocked. Money changes hands between oil producers and Libya?
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #491. ROV #490 is here.
|Follow the Gulf Watchers tag by going clicking on the heart next to the Gulf Watchers tag at the bottom of this diary.||Follow the Gulf Watchers Group by going here and clicking on the heart next to where it says "Follow" in the Gulf Watchers Group profile on the right. You will have to scroll down a little to see the profile.||Bookmark this link to find the latest Gulf Watchers diaries.|
Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Monday - evening drive time
Wednesday - morning
Friday - morning
Friday Block Party - evening
Sunday - morning
Please be kind to kossacks with bandwidth issues. Please do not post images or videos. Again, many thanks for this.
The "fail-safe" device that was the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon wellhead was rendered ineffective by an off-center piece of drillpipe... according to the report from Det Norske Veritas, forensic analysts on the BOP from the well. (The report is here, if you feel the need to read.)
"As the blind shear rams closed, a portion of the drill pipe cross section became trapped between the ram block faces, preventing the blocks from fully closing and sealing," said the 551-page report from Det Norske Veritas.
Invented nearly 90 years ago, BOPs are basically giant stacks of valves installed on top of land and sea wells to help maintain control during unexpected pressure changes.
As a last line of defense against runaway wells, BOPs have been compared to air bags and seat belts that don't prevent auto crashes but can reduce injuries.
But there is overwhelming evidence that the 90-year-old technology is not sufficient for today's wells in extreme environments.
"It isn't clear from this report that blowout preventers can actually prevent major blowouts once they've started," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
"The BOPs are manufactured by a very small number of companies," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said last July. "And BOPs used across the industry tend to employ standardized components."
Satish Nagarajaiah, a civil engineering professor at Rice University, said DNV's report affirms that a "complete shut-off of the well would have been possible," if the blind shear rams had been activated when the pipe was still centered.
The failure of the shear rams in the BOP has already prompted a call for design changes in the way BOPs function, especially under extreme conditions of severe cold or mile-deep seawater.
David Pursell, head of macro research for investment bank and research firm Tudor Pickering & Holt in Houston, said the report calls into question the fundamental design of the shear rams.
A bill passed in the House but left to die in the Senate would have mandated a second set of shear rams and backup controls in the event the first set failed, but even that redundancy probably would not have stopped the Macando gusher due to the misplaced pipe.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said Wednesday's report casts doubt on whether blowout preventers can ever be counted on, leading him to call for an immediate top-to-bottom inspection of the design and effectiveness of the devices used in U.S. waters.
Problematic, you say? Check out the Chevron wildcat-well story further down the page... And those BOPs designed to handle more pressure than Macando - they are probably more expensive to install and maintain. Cut those corners anywhere you can, BP! Remember your bottom line!
Yesterday, the Department of Interior released Det Norske Veritas' (DNV) report on the forensic testing that it conducted on the blowout preventer (BOP) that failed to shut in BP's blown out Macondo well almost a year ago. I'm still going through the 500-plus page report to find answers to my many questions about the failed BOP, but I do agree with the overriding recommendation to the industry from DNV:
Cavnar states that if drilling continues without a full assessment of the weaknesses of the blowout preventers currently in use, and others to be installed, that an accident akin to the Deepwater Horizon - or greater - can easily happen.
The long-delayed DNV report is very thorough and highly technical. I've been wading through it for several hours and will write about some of their more detailed conclusions in a later post, but I wanted to make this one key point right now: The US Government is currently issuing permits to drill knowing full well that operators are using blowout preventers that are insufficiently designed to shut in blown out deepwater wells. I have been talking about this fatal flaw for months now. The industry and Gulf Coast politicians have been applying unrelenting political pressure on the government to let deepwater drillers go back to work, and it has rationalized its capitulation saying that the industry has demonstrated its ability to contain deepwater blowouts with new equipment designed to do that. That's not really true, of course, since this new equipment is untested in real life conditions. Add this to the now well documented flawed BOP design, and we have another potential catastrophe on our hands.
Read eljefebob's entire article at The Daily Hurricane.
The first exploratory (wildcat) well in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon blowout has been approved.
The fifth permit issued since the moratorium on deepwater drilling was lifted last October, Chevron's exploratory well is in an area where oil and gas has not been produced. The previous four permits were issued in areas already producing oil and gas.
Chevron is drilling an exploratory well in 6,750 feet of water at its Moccasin project in hopes of discovering oil and gas. The company is effectively making a $1 million-per-day gamble that it will discover oil at the site.
Chevron has partnered with Marine Well Containment Company to contain the well in case of a sub-sea blowout.* Regulators require "proof" that the drilling enterprise can contain a spill prior to issuance of a permit. Chevron joined three other major oil companies — Exxon Mobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips — to form the MWCC after last year’s spill. BP, Apache Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. have since joined the containment company.
If you are still filling out your oil-permit brackets, here is what is on the books so far:
* Feb. 28: Noble Energy secured a permit to drill a bypass well in its Santiago prospect about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La. (This is Mississippi Canyon Block 519).
(We all know who ExxonMobil is...)
*And for all who watched the gusher last summer, and are familiar with the equipment and layout used to try to control it, to very little avail, please go to the MWCC site and click on number 2 on the opening page photo montage. Tell me, does that collection of subsea gear look suspiciously like what we saw last summer that didn't work too well?
The deal between BP and Rosneft has been blocked. An arbitration tribunal has blocked a proposed $7.8 billion dollar share-swap deal and Arctic exploration plans between London-based BP and the Russian company OAO Rosneft. BP was attempting to lock up an agreement that would open vast areas in Russia to oil and gas exploration.
In a statement, BP said it was disappointed by the outcome of the tribunal and that it would look to find a way to “resolve its differences” with the Russian billionaire partners in its TNK-BP joint venture. It will also apply for a ruling as to whether the share swap can proceed by itself.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had encouraged the deal, which would have been a first between a state-owned operation and an international oil producer.
The deal would have opened a 48,000 square mile area around the Kara Sea, north of developed drilling areas in western Siberia. The first well was planned to be drilled in 2015, with production only commencing around 2025.
TNK-BP management, led by billionaire shareholder and interim Chief Executive Officer Mikhail Fridman, had proposed replacing BP in the planned partnership with Rosneft, an arrangement that was rejected at a March 12 meeting in Paris by BP’s four directors on the TNK-BP board.
That dispute led to Dudley's - now CEO of BP - dismissal after five years at the helm of TNK-BP.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is also Rosneft’s chairman, described the alliance with BP as a “strategic priority” and warned both BP and the billionaire shareholders of legal action if the deal were sabotaged, according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Feb. 22 and confirmed by Rosneft spokesman Rustam Kazharov.
Multinational companies operating in Libya have had to deal with many obstacles, including a government rife with corruption that often asked for what amounted to bribes.
Aah, the American Petroleum Institute... a fine, upstanding, above-board, honest, TRANSPARENT organization with only our best interests at heart. The thought of a division of API policing the safety of deepwater drilling - or any drilling, for that matter - sends cold chills up my spine...
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|3-23-11 06:00 AM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Recent Gulf Spill Culprit Found - BP Catastrophe AUV #490||peraspera|
|3-20-11 10:54 AM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Another Leaking Deepwater Rig in the Gulf? - BP Catastrophe AUV #489||Lorinda Pike|
|3-18-11 04:59 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party: Ballads||BlackSheep1|
|3-18-11 08:12 AM||Gulf Watchers Friday - We Are Royally Screwed - BP Catastrophe AUV #488||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.