Nature and Environment Archive

BP Disputes Flow Rate…I Told You So

Monday, December 6th, 2010

You’ll recall that all during the summer I talked about BP’s number one goal with its blowout well: getting it shut in without measuring the flow. They accomplished just that on July 13 when, as the Washington Post reported in August, Energy Secretary Steve Chu ordered the “well integrity test” and the well was shut in, before the elaborate containment system, that could have measured the flow, was completed. BP successfully shut in the well without measuring the total flow, and they did it on a government order. You’ll also recall that I was critical of the operation not only because the flow had never been measured, but also because their stated procedure risked further damage.

Why was this important? There are several reasons. First and foremost, to hide the flow rate, BP exceeded the safe working pressure of the wellhead, risking mechanical damage that could have caused uncontrolled, and uncontrollable flow from the well. Second, there was serious risk of an underground blowout from suspected damaged casing possibly caused by the earlier failed top kil attempted on the Memorial Day weekend. Third, by hiding the flow rate, BP could argue later argue for a lower flow rate than what the government estimated. That’s exactly what has now happened. In a draft report issued by the President’s spill commission, BP lawyers argued that the flow rate from the well was 20 to 50 percent lower than the official government flow rate, that the government estimate was inaccurate and overblown.

SInce the blowout on April 20th, BP has never publicly disclosed it’s estimate of the flow rate. In fact, in the early days of the disaster, BP representatives actually stood mute on the same platform with Coast Guard Admiral Mary Landry, as she unknowingly lied to the American public that the well was not flowing, then flowing 1,000 barrels per day, then 5,000. BP knew those assertions were completely false, since we now know that they had ROVs at the wellhead desperately trying to get the BOP shut in even as Landry was reporting that the well was not flowing. Since the EPA fines are determined by the number of barrels released into the water, BP’s problem could be increased or shrunk by billions of dollars, depending on the final flow rate determination. Since BP was successful in hiding the rate, it will now be up to the courts to make the judgment. That will take years, if not decades to accomplish, as well as millions of dollars in legal expenses. In the meantime, untold damage to the Gulf’s ecosystems remain, even as public interest has faded after a massive government effort to assure the public that all is well even though it’s not.

At the risk of saying I told you so…I told you so.

Read the original article on The Daily Hurricane.

disaster Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon.

Breaking: Terrorists Win. Idiocy Trumps Security. And Sanity.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

We’ve already seen the very well documented idiocy that has now overtaken US government policy and “security” procedures at our nation’s airports.  As of today, I can confidently say that the terrorists, without doing more than sending more than a few bumbling apprentices with underwear stuffed with explosives, have won.  They have virtually dragged down our transportation system to a snail’s pace while letting us do their dirty work for them, denying our own legal and personal freedoms to be “secure”.  The “enhanced” pat downs that TSA started this month (Is it just me who’s noticed that everything illegal is now called “enhanced”?), which does not improve our security, has now taken away the fundamental right that protects all of us from unreasonable search and seizure.

We now have poorly trained blue-shirted TSA agents feeling up people by the thousands, some  having already being subjected to nude photography without consent.  Just a few days ago in Denver, I actually witnessed one of said agents feeling up an eighty-plus year-old woman who could barely stand with a walker.  Where this agent was putting her hands, in plain view of hundreds of other travelers who’s luggage was being electronically rummaged through, was indescribable.  The real tragedy was, in order to make her flight, this woman was allowing herself to be so publicly humiliated.

Have we lost our minds?  Do we really believe that old ladies in walkers pose a threat?  Do we really believe that electronic strip searching (and now literal strip searching) really makes us safer?  Why do those who rule over us callously ignore this extreme violation of our personal rights that doesn’t make us any safer?  Why do we allow it?  Fear?  After the lawlessness of the last administration was allowed to go unchecked and un-indicted, this administration, fearing the right wing noise machine if something does happen, is now allowing what Constitutional rights that remain to be shredded like just so much “quaint” law that was ignored since 9/11.  We’re even subjecting our flight crews, who have already passed tough security screenings, to this lunacy.

Enough is enough.  There are so many other things we can do to make ourselves safer.  Screening all air freight could be a good start.  Confirming identities of those flying BEFORE they buy their ticket is a good one.  Effective training of security personnel to ask the right questions, recognize suspicious behavior, and head potential terrorists off before they get to the airport are all better procedures than what we have now.  How about we just fix the government computer system to have an up-to-date list of suspected terrorists?  Can’t we even do that?  Apparently not.

I do know one thing for sure.  Groping old ladies and kids is simply stupid, arbitrary, and ineffective.  It’s time to stop this idiocy.


Read the original article on The Daily Hurricane.

disasteronthehorizon Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

BP’s Macondo Well FINALLY Capped with Memorial

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

From my pals over at Daily Kos Gulfwatchers, who have continued their 24/7 vigil over BP’s Macondo well since it was killed in the middle of September, below is a video of the cap put in place over the collet connector early yesterday morning.   The cap memorializes the eleven men who were killed by this well on the night of April 20, 2010.  It seems unjust that, like an eternal flame, gas continues to stream from the well, even as they prepare to abandon it and the memorial to those who lost their lives.  Have a look.

As extensive work continued these last 2 months since the the media and most Americans have forgotten the well, the destruction in the vast ecosystem that is the Gulf of Mexico, and the eleven who died, the Gulf Watchers have continued their faithful vigil.  I want to thank them for their tireless work, recording for posterity every event they could see on the ROV feeds that continued over the months.
As this well is prepared for abandonment to the dark ocean depths, we at the Daily Hurricane will never forget those who lost their lives that night:
Jason Anderson, 35, toolpusher, of Midfield, Texas. He left behind his wife, Shelley, and two children.
Dale Burkeen, 37, crane operator, from outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. He left behind his wife, Rhonda, and two children.
Donald Clark, 49, assistant driller, of Newellton, Louisiana. He left behind his wife, Sheila, and four children.
Stephen Curtis, 40, assistant driller, of Georgetown, Louisiana. He left behind his wife, Nancy, and two children.
Gordon Jones, 28, mud engineer, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He left behind his pregnant wife, Michelle, and a son. Michelle gave birth to a son 24 days after the blowout.
Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, derrick man recently promoted to assistant driller, of Jonesville, Louisiana. He left behind his wife, Courtney, and two daughters.
Karl Kleppinger, 38, floor hand, of Natchez, Mississippi. He left behind his wife, Tracy, and a son.
Blair Manuel, 56, mud engineer, of St. Amant, Louisiana. He left behind his fiancée, Melinda, and three daughters.
Dewey Revette, 48, driller, of State Line, Mississippi. He left behind his wife, Sherri, and two daughters.
Shane Roshto, 22, floor hand, of Franklin County, Mississippi. He left behind his wife, Natalie, and one child.Adam Weise, 24, floor hand, of Yorktown, Texas.
When he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heav’n so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
–William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Read the original post at The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | No Comments »

The Smoking Gun in the Gulf

Monday, November 8th, 2010

A few days ago, CNN reported findings of a government research trip into the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico, close to BP’s Macondo well blowout.  The expedition, crewed by university scientists, found dead and dying coral in 4,000 feet of water southwest of the the wellsite.  Penn State University biologist Charles Fisher called the dead coral the “smoking gun”, evidence of damage to deep sea life resulting from the millions of barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf for 87 days earlier this year.

As we know, the government has been saying for several months now that the oil had dispersed, degraded, and mysteriously disappeared from the Gulf and that all is well.  The daily drumbeat that Gulf seafood is safe has kept the real news out of the front pages and off of our television screens.  Now we have evidence that these lofty proclamations just aren’t true.  Jane Lubchenco, director of NOAA admitted that the findings were “significant.”
Significant.  How about “tragic”?

Read the original post at The Daily Hurricane.
Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | No Comments »

Memo to Spill Commission: Bad Cement Does Not Equal Blowout

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Among much hoopla Thursday, the Presidential Oil Spill Commission released a letter from lawyer Fred Bartlit, Jr., saying that 3 of 4 tests that Halliburton conducted of the cement designed for BP’s Macando well were unstable.  They also published a report of tests performed by Chevron that all nine of their tests using Halliburton ingredients showed it as unstable.  One of Halliburton’s tests run prior to the actual cement job showed that formulation to be stable and work.  The letter also stated that the communication about the instability of the slurries between Halliburton and BP was unclear, and that BP may not have even read the report until after the blowout had occurred.

The media and stock market immediately jumped to the conclusion that Halliburton was at fault, and shares of the company dropped about 8% in value when the news hit.  The problem is, though, that this report issued by the commission doesn’t matter.  While interesting and demonstrative of the instability of nitrified cements, the main message here is that bad cement does not equal blowout.  Bad cement jobs in the oil and gas industry are common, and there are several ways to remediate those bad jobs after the fact. It’s very difficult to determine if a cement job is not effective, even with a bond log, especially in the early hours after a cement job has been pumped.  Bond logs are often inconclusive and the longer cement has to hydrate and gain compressive strength, the higher the likelihood of a better log.  As we all know from the Deepwater Horizon story, there were only about 16 hours from the time the cement job was pumped to the negative test, riser displacement, and the subsequent blowout.
The overriding issues here are casing design and risk management.  Relying solely on the cement job to prevent the well from coming to see them was poor decision making.  I continue to believe that their decision to run only the long string, rather than a liner/tieback combination, as well as the decisions to not wait on more centralizers or to not circulate bottoms up, was BP and Transocean’s concern about getting pipe to bottom and getting cement in place, not money.  This well had been scary difficult to drill, losing circulation, then kicking, that they just wanted to get off as quickly as possible.  This rush to get the well finished lead to the disaster.  Add that to displacing the riser with seawater with questionable well integrity was the final straw.  After the blowout, the inhibited alarms and safety shutdowns on the Transocean rig proved deadly.
This disaster was certainly preventable and caused by poor design, poor decision making, and rushing to get the well completed. The tragic consequences should be a lesson to the entire industry, but I’m not holding my breath.

Read the original post at The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | No Comments »

Sanity/Fear Rally In Washington Draws at Least 6 Million!

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was held today in Washington, DC and estimates place the number of participants at as many as 6 million, more than double those who attended President Obama’s inauguration in January, 2009.  The two rallies drew the record crowds as inspired participants from all over the country were bound and determined to put the Tea Partiers in their place as also-runs with their lame “whites-only” rallies held on April 15 every year. They also gathered for a few laughs.  Here’s a photo of the record breaking crowd (photo by Moonheid):

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Here are some of the provocative signs some of the sane protesters were carrying (photos by lisztless):
I'm Here! I'm Not Gay! But It's Okay It You Are!

Hitler Called He Wants His Hyperbole Back

UPDATE. UPDATE: Estimates now place the crowd at 8 million, and that, in fact, half of New York City’s population attended as well as all of Rhode Island!
If anyone has any breathless reports or better crowd estimates, please post a comment here!
Read the original post at The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | No Comments »

This is What Hate Speech Gets You

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Last night, a group of Rand Paul goons assaulted a Move-On supporter protesting Paul’s support of the corporatization of the Republican party.  Paul was arriving at his debate with oppponent Jack Conway in Lexington, Kentucky when Lauren Valle approached his with a sign that said “RepubliCorp Employee of the Month”.  She was either tripped or shoved to the ground by a large middle aged male supporter, who then stomped on her head before being called off by more level headed people in the mob.  He screamed at Valle to stay down. Here’s the video.

This is exactly what you get after month on month of hate, bigotry, and xenophobia pouring our of right wing media outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  Racist advertising, abusive speech, and ridiculous taunting by Tea Party candidates like Paul and O’Donnell have made it worse.  Such is the condition of our politics today.  Reasonable differences of opinion are not allowed.  Goons like this clown hover outside of every event, boiling over with hate and looking for trouble.  Last night he got it.

Once this guy is identified, he should be arrested and charged with assault.  If we don’t throw the book at guys like this, it’s only going to get worse.

Read the original post on Bob’s blog, The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | 1 Comment »

First Copies of Disaster On the Horizon In; Released Next Friday

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Late Friday, the first copies of my new book, Disaster on the Horizon, arrived.  The book will be released next Friday, October 22.  I’ll post the book signing schedule shortly.


Read the original post at The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, available now.

Posted in Nature and Environment | Comments Off

Macondo - RIP

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

A few hours ago, Admiral Allen and BP made separate announcements that the Macondo well at Mississippi Canyon Block 252, has been successfully killed from the bottom by the relief well.  After 2 months of keeping the relief well on hold while the BP/US government partnership undertook various high risk operations from the top of the well, they’ve finally completed the kill that should have be done long ago.  They also announced that they will now permanently plug and abandon all the wells involved, including the Macondo well and the two relief wells.  I would expect that BP will sell their interest in this property to another offshore operator for eventual redrilling and production of this large oil reservoir.  For the first time since this crisis started, Allen called the well “dead”.  BP said that the casing and annulus were “sealed”.

This catastrophe, lasting 152 days, killed 11 good men, spilled 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing countless sea life and costing thousands of jobs has been an odyssey for everyone involved.  BP was at all times opaque in its communication, spending tens of millions of dollars in public relations, pretending to be forthcoming when being everything but; the US government served as its enabler, even allowing BP to conceal key information including the actual flow rate of the well.

The environmental damage will take years to understand; the legal battles will also drag on for years.  In the meantime, the deepwater industry has learned a lot from this disaster; let’s hope they actually use this knowledge to make this kind of exploration safer so this never happens again.

This article appeared originally on Bob Cavnar’s blog, The Daily Hurricane.

Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon: The Deepwater Well Blowout - What Happened and Why, available in October.

Posted in Nature and Environment | Comments Off