The Oil Spill Disaster… Criminal or Accidental?

I have followed this story since the beginning, as the rest of the US has done, mostly because I am not really given a choice. It dominates the news daily, which I wouldn’t really have an issue with if I thought it was doing so for the right reasons. Obviously, that statement means that I don’t believe that it is being done for the right reasons. I will get into that shortly. What I want to start with is a serious look at the spill, the company that is in question, and the way that the entire situation is being handled in the media. British Petroleum is really being hung out to dry and I have to question whether they are being treated fairly by the powers that be. I understand that they bear some responsibility for the disaster and the events that led up to the spill, but I really find myself questioning whether they are worthy of the absolute demonization that has happened from day one of this situation. After all, it isn’t as though they intentionally caused this to happen.

Let’s first face the facts here. This is a disaster, and I certainly am not happy that we face the current situation. I don’t think anyone on the entire planet is actually happy that there are barrels and barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico and polluting our shores, killing the marine life, and basically making a huge mess of things. But for a moment, I think it is important to not focus on the outcome here. Focusing on the damage that is being caused infuses a gigantic amount of emotion into the thought process. What I want to do is discuss this from a logic and reasoning perspective, not an emotional one. Therefore, the need exists to not think about the damage that is being done. Let’s reserve the emotion for the folks in the media discussing this. You know, the ones who are supposed to be presenting us with facts and journalism, but who instead rely solely on emotional rhetoric and false appeals.

OK, the situation played out this way, at least to the best of my understanding: A natural gas bubble moved up the drilling pipe and caused the explosion and sinking of the Deep Horizon drilling rig. There were failsafes in place that were meant to close the pipe off in the event of an accident like this. The blowout preventer had several different ways to close off the pipe and stop the flow. It failed to do so. It appears that something prevented the device that shears off and seals the pipe from completely doing so (some form of obstruction). There was yet another device that could have been put in place, a remote shut off device. It was not put in place because BP felt it was redundant and unnecessary. The media has latched on to this fact.

You can also view a visualization of what happened and how the failsafes were supposed to work by looking at this PDF picture that details it all. Clicking the link will open the PDF in a new window.

The remote shut off valve that was not in place, from what I have read, would have cost BP roughly $500,000 to have put in place. The claims are that the company was too interested in saving money to use this device, which would have averted this disastrous spill. That claim holds no water in my opinion. First, $500k is nothing to BP, and they would have had the device in place if they thought it would make a difference. They lost more than $500k in oil the first day of the spill. Risk versus Reward says they would have put it in place if it would have made a difference. Additionally, everything that I am reading says that this device, had it been in place would have had zero effect. It would have remotely fired the blowout preventer, which was fired, and failed. So having another means for firing the blowout preventer that failed would have been useless. It is like saying having a run-flat tire would prevent the accident caused by the entire wheel falling off the car. It simply isn’t true. It appears, at least to me, that BP was correct in stating that the uninstalled remote device was unnecessary and redundant.

Flash forward a month since the incident, and we find that oil is gushing into the gulf at a high rate. It appears to me that it will absolutely have a negative impact on marine life, coastal ecosystems, and many gulf industries such as fishing and tourism. But the question is how much of this is really someone’s “fault” and how much of it is just an accident that is unfortunate, but really could not have been prevented easily, as the media seems to be claiming. Allow me to first say that I have watched a lot of different stuff on the MSM channels and when I apply critical thought to it, I find it lacking.

For example, I saw the 60 Minutes piece with the electrician who claimed to have overheard the “company man” telling “the rig supervisor” to disregard safety measures and standard operating procedures in order to speed up drilling and save money. First of all, this well was two days from being handed off to a different type of platform, the drilling was just about done. A different platform that focused on pumping was apparently being brought in ( I don’t know how normal that is, perhaps our resident rig expert Wasabi can shed some light). Second, most of his story sounded fishy to me, and perhaps fueled by the multi-million dollar lawsuit he has filed. Finally, how often do you think that an electrician is in the drilling room of a rig “overhearing” a “company man” telling a rig supervisor to disregard SOP or safety measures? I think a “company man”, if he were going to say it, wouldn’t have done so in front of an electrician, or anyone else for that matter. He is a “company man” because he is smarter than that. This is just one example of both the shoddy journalism and desire to spin a story that is prevalent in the vast majority of the “reporting” on this situation.

The problem, in my opinion, is that the media is far more interested in pushing an angle or assigning blame than it is on reporting what actually happened and why. The overriding sentiment in the media is that this accident was primarily greed driven. I see it pointed out continuously and without fail. Their line is that British Petroleum was a greedy and profit seeking oil company hell bent on saving every dime they could. As a result, this incident happened. It was caused by the greed. It was caused by the cost cutting and safety be damned mindset of the greedy company. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The left’s assault on any capitalism driven company that has the audacity to seek a profit is unrelenting. Wall Street, the Coal Mine, and now British Petroleum. The greed angle satisfies a public that is all too eager to place blame and assume some sort of moral high ground (as a side note, isn’t it odd that the folks claiming the moral high ground are the ones pushing the seizure of the fruits of another person’s labor while simultaneously considering a company that earns an honest profit as the devil incarnate?). The greed angle is one played well by the progressive movement. The question remains, however…..

Did greed actually have anything to do what happened on the Deep Horizon Oil Rig?

Because I have to be honest here. I don’t see anything that proves that point, or even, for that matter, begins to make that point. British Petroleum has a pretty good track record for supporting environmentally conscious groups and actions. In fact, the Nature Conservancy has had ties with BP for many years. A fact that they are now trying to downplay and distance themselves from (you can read an article on this HERE ). BP has given away millions in donations to environmental groups, including tens of millions of dollars and multiple land grants. They are a company that, at least on the surface, are interested in protecting the environment even while earning a profit taking actions that have the potential to do massive environmental damage.

And when I see folks like those at the Huffington Post lambasting Rand Paul for his comment about the BP incident, I see emotion overriding relevant discussion. For example, Harry Shearer took issue with Paul over his stating that it was an accident. He wrote:

What’s escaping public notice so far, though, is his take on a far more contemporary issue: accountability. Here’s Rand Paul on the BP oil spill:

I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.

The reason this quote isn’t inflaming debate the way Paul’s Libertarian dance around the Civil Rights Act has is simple: on this issue, Paul is not fringe-y or extremist or unusual; he’s spouting a line we’ve heard incessantly, from defenders of BP, from apologists for the US Army Corps of Engineers (in the case of the flooding of New Orleans), from architects of the Iraq War. Paul is channeling Donald Rumsfeld: “Stuff happens.” Nothing to see here, move on.

The deeper meaning of the quote is the standard Republican assault against lawyers who have the temerity to challenge, in court, established power. Just this week, the Louisiana legislature defeated a bill that would have punished the Tulane Legal Clinic for its work taking government agencies to court. The bill had the support of the Louisiana Chemical Association.

The political spin on Paul is that he’s worrisome because he’s not within the standard lines of the modern political debate. I’d suggest he’s worrisome because he is.

This is the mentality of the modern progressive pundit. They are actually concerned that the American public in general might believe something other than BP is the devil. That the majority of the American people might weigh the facts, look into what happened, and determine that something is an unfortunate accident rather than a conspiratorial plan to extract more profits, is troublesome. And this is, in my opinion, because they realize that they are losing control of the debate. Where the media at one time was able to control the flow of information, they no longer can. Because of this they cannot manipulate people into believing what they want them to believe.

Finally, all of this ignores one very stark reality. We are a world that depends on oil. It is used in nearly every aspect of our lives. While many folks are so quick to demonize the oil companies, they certainly are not doing anything other than whining and bitching. They are not giving up driving, or using plastics, or anything else that oil plays a part in. The whining environmentalist activists (who are right near the top of my list of most annoying people) are all bitching and no solving. They denounce nuclear power, despite it being used safely elsewhere. And they want oil, just not oil drilled for here, close to home. We cannot have it both ways, folks. We are either going to continue using oil, and therefore must be drilling for it off our coasts, or we are going to find another way. Or lots of other ways. And stop crying wolf on every solution that is offered. And stop claiming other solutions are really great solutions when they haven’t figured out how to make them work (like storing energy from windmills for example).

So let’s talk about the BP incident. Let’s discuss the facts, because the one thing that I am absolutely convinced about is that I don’t have all of the facts. I only have what I have found. And I obviously have my own interpretation as to what it means when I read it. Take out the emotional rhetoric. Take out the games that the media plays (and both sides play it, it is just the left on this particular issue). When we rely on oil, we are going to run the risks of accidents such as this one. It sucks, but that is the reality. So is the oil spill the result of a tragic accident, or a greed conspiracy? Should criminal charges be sought against BP? The White House is threatening them. Are they justified?


  1. Good Morning 🙂

    I been quite preoccupied as of late, but, working for the mainteneance department at a hospital, mechanical things fail. Mostly it’s just an annoyance, sometimes a costly repair and other times a major issue. A couple years ago, our main electrical feed completely exploded and melted. It took out the backup lines as well. After ten days of working on generator power, we had a new feed, and later a backup feed on a completely seperate area. Total cost was close to 100 million bucks (poor insurance company). Their was no blame assigned, anywhere, or to anybody.

    This oil spill is certainly a tragedy, and a sad one at that. But until there is absolute proof that negligence was a factor, the MSM and D.C. are just blowing smoke.



    • I’m sorry accident or no accident, when you embark on such an endeavor like this, responsibility still has to be taken no matter how you slice it. Granted more regulation woulden’t have solved this problem, but if you chooses to undertake something, and it became dangerous, that’s on you. The same thing goes with owning any buisiness. If you have a fire, whether avoidable or not, and it spreads elsewhere causing another to set fire or injuries somebody, you are liable. Accidents happen as well as negligence but it hardly matters when the outcome is the same. They decided to tap oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and they knew the risk going in. IF they werent willing to be responsible they should never have tapped it.

      I’m not saying we shoulden’t be drilling, that’s for sure, but if you’re the one doing it, it’s on you to claim resposibility. I mean after all, if you don’t have an accident you can reap the rewards instead which mind you are incredible riches. But make the mistake and pay the price.

      • southern chick says:

        Ryan –

        I have to agree with you. Accidents do happen but you must accept responsibility and take your lumps when they come your way. If you take risk and accept big payoffs, you must take your lumps as well.

        If I accidentally run over a pedestrian, I would be held accountable for my action though I certainly would not choose to do this. A lifetime of safe driving does not excuse one incident of neglect or even distraction.

        All efforts of redundancy may be costly but personally, I would rather pay for it than be caught with such a weight on my shoulders, even if it was proven to be a futile attempt.

  2. A Puritan Descendant says:

    I have always been for deregulation, but for something of this magnitude I think heads had better roll!

    • Mathius says:

      I’ve always been for regulation. But I agree that some heads will roll.

      The million dollar question: Will it be the right heads?

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      So you think there should have been more regulation here or not Puritan?

    • Head will roll.

      You don’t lose a billion and get in medal in the business marketplace.

      That only happens in government.

      • A Puritan Descendant says:

        Actually I would not mind if some or much of the blame goes to government for not putting in place “better” regulations and enforcement. This deep ocean drilling is way to serious to be careless with. We need the oil but not at the potential costs we are seeing with this screw up. A couple more disasters like this one and we will see our military in the gulf stopping drilling by other countries if need be.

        BF? In your ideal anarchy, how would something like this be either prevented or dealt with?

  3. Mathius says:

    Got about halfway through the article – will have to finish the rest as time permits. It should be a busy day. So I apologize if USW has already said what I’m about to.

    After the Exxon-Valdez, people drove past Exxon gas stations. They deliberately opted (even at slightly worse prices) to buy from companies that were not directly responsible for the largest oil spill in US history. Though I was only six at the time, I still think about the Valez whenever I hear the word Exxon. The two are inextricably linked.

    Seems to me, humble businessman that I am, that I would pay just about any price to avoid that same fate. Not only is BP losing massive, MASSIVE, amounts of money from the oil. Not oil will BP wind up paying massive, MASSIVE, amounts of money for the cleanup. But the PR damage will dwarf any damage that those can do to the company. By the time people forgive BP, it won’t matter anymore because we’ll all be riding around in solar powered flying cars.

    So, all that is a long-winded way of saying this: either their leadership is so incompetent that they could not foresee this result or it was a (nearly) unavoidable accident.

  4. This was a tragic accident. It’s a dangerous business, and please let’s not forget the families of:

    Jason Anderson, Toolpusher
    Dewey Revette, Driller
    Donald Clark, Assistant Driller
    Stephen Curtis, Assistant Driller
    Dale Burkeen, Crane Operator
    Roy Kemp, Derrick Hand
    Karl Kleppinger, Floor Hand
    Shane Roshto, Floor Hand
    Adam Weise, Floor Hand
    Gordon Jones, MI Swaco
    Blair Manuel, MI Swaco

    Thanks to Mrs. Wasabi for her research, and apologies to the families if I’ve misspelled the names.

    I have been working in this industry for 13 years. I feel it important to point out that BP is THE industry leader in safety procedures and environmental concerns. We make jokes about “Killing trees for BP”. Sometimes a simple job, that takes 30 minuted to complete, becomes a 3-hour ordeal of permits, isolations and Job Safety Analyses.

    It is not uncommon for one platform or drill ship to start up a well, leave the BOP in place and have another rig move in and handle the production activities. The BOP’s are tested routinely, but I believe that this particular incident occurred because the pressure was more than the BOP could handle.

    I live in Louisiana, and feel that jobs in my field may be adversely affected, and the seafood industry will be hurt as well. My Grand Isle oysters may not be around for very long.

    This was not anyone’s fault IMHO. I know that “S$^T happens” is a trivial statement. We must continue to safely explore for oil. Depending on other countries puts us at their mercy. It’s a shame that the greatest Nation on earth has to be so dependent on others.

    • Mathius says:

      Indeed, shit does happen.

      Hopefully, this causes entrepreneurs to double down on safer, domestic, and yes, greener fuels.

      I do not agree with taking one company out to the woodshed for an accident unless someone shows me good evidence of fraud/abuse/neglect/ect.

      Perhaps you could shed some light on something for me though. How often do fatal accidents happen on rigs? I know it’s dangerous works, but I wasn’t able to find any data. And, in your opinion, is everything being done that can reasonably be done to ensure a safe environment in terms of both worker safety and oil-spill avoidance?

      Sadly almost everything I know about drilling came from the movie Armageddon.


        Also look for Piper Alpha and the Ocean Ranger. A lot of these things happen in other regions of the world, so we don’t notice them.

        These companies are very big on safety and environmental preservation. USCG and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) are the regulatory agencies.

        Some of the safety procedures are in place to protect the companies from lawsuits, however we want every man and woman to get home safely. These boats and rigs are our homes for 3-4 weeks at a time, and these workers are our families. It hurts us all when these things happen.

        Demonizing BP is not going to get things cleaned up any faster.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        If we’re going to allow “shit happens” to enter the cause/effect nomenclature for man-made man-driven exercises wherein if shit does happen we could experience the largest ecological disaster in the history of mankind and not to mention the potential death/near-death of entire industries then we need to take a much harder look at whether to run that exercise.

        • Mathius says:

          Ray, you cannot regulate away 100% of risk. You can mitigate 99.9%, but never 100%.

          It just isn’t possible.

          At some point, getting closer to 100 (though you never reach it) is asymptotic.

          To go from 0 to 90 costs $10
          To go from 90 to 95 costs $100
          To go from 95 to 99 costs $1,000
          To go from 99 to 99.9 costs $100,000
          To go from 99.9 to 99.99 costs $1,000,000
          To go from 99.99 to 99.999 costs $10,000,000
          To go from 99.999 to 99.9999 costs $100,000,000
          And so on. At some point, the limit goes to infinity. You simply cannot get there.

          Everything – every single solitary thing – that we as human beings do goes through some sort of cost-benefit analysis. EVERYTHING. Period.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            The risk need not be ‘regulated’ down to zero Mat – it can be mitigated 100% – you just don’t drill.

            From a business risk standpoint, where the impact severity is so significantly high (your company could fold, you could permanently destroy entire sectors of the economy), there should be multiple layers of safeguards in place to reduce the inherent risk to a point at which a significant external event would have to occur to alter the safeguards (e.g. likelihood of a terrorist threat being actualized). That doesn’t mean risk gets reduced to zero, but damn near so (again – where the impact severity is so damn high). Talk to safety engineers at nuclear plants – see how they feel about mitigating for ‘shit happens’. When inherent risk is so high theoretical and practical risk mitigation need to be pretty damn close together (but not necessarily identical).

            • Mathius says:

              it can be mitigated 100% – you just don’t drill.

              Sure. And the risk of car accidents can also be mitigated in the same way.

              If we’re going to be consistent, and stop all drilling, we should also stop all driving for the same reason.

              Cars cause a lot more damage and are far riskier.

              In fact, if we all stopped driving, there probably wouldn’t be much need for offshore drilling anyway.

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Wrong example Mat. A single car accident isn’t likely to cause billions of dollars in damage. If a fully loaded fully fueled passenger airplane were to hit a nuclear reactor there would be catastrophic damage. So – we implement no-fly zones over reactors. Make sense?

              • Mathius says:

                But there are tens if not hundreds of millions of cars on the road.

                So the damage is increased by that amount. You shouldn’t look at it as an isolated one car vs one oil rig comparison.

                In the US in 2009, there were 33,963 automotive deaths (not sure how this is defined) – to say nothing of injuries and property damages. That’s 93 men, women and children per day. Every day.

                You have a 0.011% chance of being killed by a car every year.

                This oil spill won’t even come close to that kind of death toll. Yet you consider driving to be an acceptable risk and drilling for oil to be unacceptable?

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Mat – the inherent impact severity and underlying risks are not the same for the two events.

              • Mathius says:

                That’s true. It is far greater for cars.

            • Mathius says:

              there should be multiple layers of safeguards in place to reduce the inherent risk to a point at which a significant external event would have to occur to alter the safeguards

              There were safeguards. There were multiple safeguards. There were safeguards for the safeguards.

              They didn’t work.

              People thought they would. But they didn’t. We can only do our best. I’ll have to wait for the full results of the investigation to make judgment as to blame, but to claim there weren’t a lot of safeguards is simply wrong.

              They just didn’t work.

              Sometimes things don’t work.

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Mat – I’m lookin’ at the PDF USW linked – not getting a warm fuzzy that there were a lot of safeguards in place or that fail scenarios were properly accounted for.

                Yes – the investigation will hopefully tell us why the safeguards did not work – I agree with you on that.

                You seem to disagree with yourself then that “sometimes things don’t work”.

                No – I think we know that in these scenarios – “sometimes things don’t work” is usually codespeak for human error. Someone shit the bed along the way – and the lack of technology and/or risk mitigation came back to bite them.

          • Another example of shit happens, the coal mine disaster(s) … how come it’s always the worker who is killed in these accidents (reaping the least reward for the fruits of his/her labors) while those sitting on their duffs (investors) get to say, “Shit happens?”

            Sorry, that dog just won’t hunt anymore.

            Ray has it right. I was for drilling prior to this mess. Not anymore. In fact, those working “safely” (before shit happens to them) should be dismantled (although I’ll bet dollars to donuts, that was never even figured into the plan — dismantling them).

    • Thank you for reminding us of those that lost their lives.

  5. Ray Hawkins says:

    I have a couple of random thoughts on this issue and article….

    USW has stated that 500K is a drop in the bucket and BP would have been crazy not to spend it if it were the case the spend would have prevented this disaster. I’ll rely on some personal experience here – much of my consulting years were spent working with F-500/F-100/F-25 companies. BP, last list I saw was No. 4 on the F-500. Without alarming consistency, even the largest companies, when faced with the kmost obvious of safeguard measures to better manage risk, consciously decide not to spend the money. Why? Most common I would see is linkage to compensation or bonus. Even for a measly 500K (sometime more). That amount of money may seem completely trivial, but there are reasons it does not get spent.

    For as much as I read about responsibility and accountability on this site, I am utterly dismayed that USW would even seem to support a “shit happens” excuse. Sorry USW – you win the hypocrite of the day award. While I get it that the media is furiously chasing this to have someone to fry, ultimately, someone somewhere decided that the risk rubrics that showed off-the-charts impact severity was counter-balanced enough by a perceived lack of occurence likelihood equated to a “go” decision with whatever the technology implementation is – that person(s) should be annointed responsible for this disaster. In this day and age – shit doesn’t just happen – these companies have been drilling long enough to have a pretty robust understanding of the risks involved and how best to mitigate them. Too bad for the news cycles, but the truth will come out soon enough.

    Finally,lets talk more facts about oil sourcing can we? Some hard questions should be asked with respect:

    1. Maturity of methodology & technology for deep-sea drilling (the BP disaster falls in this cat);
    2. Percentage of off-shore to on-shore;
    3. Percentage of Gulf of Mexico offshore versus California and/or Alaska

    Let’s not paint a picture that the Deep Sea Gulf of Mexico oil is our primary source of oil (it is not). Some estimates place the offshore oil at less than 40% of the overall total domestically, with approx 32% being Gulf Oil – I could not find any numbers on deep sea versus shallow ( 500 meters).

    • Mathius says:

      Ray, I don’t think he’s saying that BP shouldn’t be responsible for the damage they caused – just that sometimes things actually, really, honestly, do just happen.

      Whether that is the case or not, I can’t say yet. There may have been exactly the analysis you suggest (I would be surprised if there wasn’t). But the problem Weapon and I are having is that the downside risk is so astronomical that to counterbalance it against the price, the probability of occurrence must have been beyond minuscule – something akin to buying insurance for your home to protect against damage from meteorites. And who can really blame them for that?

      But, even if you do everything right, ultimately, you have to own your actions. BP knew what they were doing and they knew (however unlikely) the risks – and even if they didn’t it would make no difference. You can drive your car safely every day, but if something goes wrong and you crash into someone’s home, you still have to pay to fix it. BP crashed their car – whether it was avoidable or not – so they should have to pay to fix it. 100%. Every penny, every drop of oil. Period.

      To that end, I think the liability cap is preposterous. Explain to me why anyone is defending it. If I crash my car into your house, there’s no logic behind a law saying that I have to fix it, but only up to $20,000 and you have to cover the rest. Why should BP have that kind of immunity?

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Oh boy – Mat and I disagreein’ – this is going to suck.

        There is little to nothing I will concede just happens – about the only thing I will attribute that to is the origin of the universe. The randomness you suggest I reject. Every effect has a cause.

        I understand the attempt to argue downside risk – but it does not work – we have experience with oil well failures, rig failures, etc – that’s why there are designed safety measures in place. Either the measures were inadequate to begin with, they weren’t implemented properly, or the variable impacts were not properly accounted for. Conversely, we don’t have experience with ‘meteors hitting the Earth’.

        As for liability cap – we do agree that is b.s. – its akin to saying too big to fail. BP should be responsible for every penny lost. Which brings me back to original point – you’re the 4th largest company in the world – I do not accept a ‘shit happens’ excuse, especially in light that your (and that have thousands of others) very economic being is in serious jeopardy. That is the off the charts impact severity Mat.

        • Mathius says:

          Oh boy – Mat and I disagreein’ – this is going to suck. True, but there’s at least one person I can think of who is even worse to get into an argument with…

          But nonetheless, here we go..

          The randomness you suggest I reject.

          Reject away. Einstein had a serious problem with this too – “God does not play dice” – but quantum mechanics says otherwise. I could deputize our resident physicist into the argument, but there’s no need. Randomness is the law of the universe.

          Every effect has a cause.

          Let’s assume that’s true. So what?

          Either the measures were inadequate to begin with, they weren’t implemented properly, or the variable impacts were not properly accounted for.

          This is a logical argument. If an effect has a cause, then one of these (ruling out conspiracy theories) is probably the cause.

          Let’s stick with the car analogy. If you have an accident, either you were being unsafe, your vehicle was unsafe, or a third-party action caused it (deer in the road / drunk driver / etc). In any of these events, you could have avoided the issue by going slower and being more cautious.

          But at some point, it becomes prohibitive to do so. If you are about to pass a blind corner, you can be sure that nothing it going to come darting out of it by getting out of your car, and peering around the corner before driving past, but if you did that every time, you would probably never get where you’re going.

          So you take risks. You define, in your mind, what you consider to be an acceptable cost/benefit. If you, god forbid, killed someone who ran out from behind that blind corner, you would have to apply analysis to what happened. Given the logic you are applying to BP, you would determine that it is your fault because you did not stop your car, get out and check before driving past – this is ridiculous.

          we have experience with oil well failures, rig failures, etc – that’s why there are designed safety measures in place.

          We have experience with people getting run over by cars. That’s why we have advanced braking systems, traction control, and speed limits. People still die. Should we outright ban driving because there is still risk of hitting pedestrians? Or should we spend trillions of dollars designing a real-time system that can monitor activity around blind corners so it never happens again? Or do we accept these risks because the cost of avoiding them entirely is prohibitive?

          onversely, we don’t have experience with ‘meteors hitting the Earth’.

          Maybe you should ask one of D13’s velociraptors about that…

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            Mat – I’d much rather you use an analogy congruent to the BP disaster – the risk metrics of a car accident as you describe are not even close to realistic – then we can debate that point appropriately. As for variability, I hold firm that if we cannot sufficiently manage and account for variability where the downside actualization is so severe then why the hell take the action to begin with? Didn’t we just learn this from credit default swaps?

            • Mathius says:

              People didn’t know what they were doing with CDS’s (they still mostly don’t).

              C/B analysis works like this:
              Cost of failure * odds of failure < reward of success * odds of success

              The bigger the reward and the lower the odds of failure, the more downside potential people are willing to take on.

              If I hand you a gun with one bullet and ask you to play Russian roulette, you will decline. If I offer you the choice of 10 guns (only one of which has a bullet), now your odds of dying are 1 in 60. You're still decline. But if I keep upping the number of guns available and keep upping the payoff to play , at some point, you will pull the trigger. What odds? What payoff? 1,000 guns with $1 billion payoff? I bet you would. I probably would.

              The downside risk is catastrophic: death (and a nasty mess for someone else to clean up). But at some point, you will take the gamble.

              You ask: then why take the action to begin with. The answer is simple and old as time: reward outweighs risk.

              • Mathius

                The formula it time tested, but the variables in the formula are dependent upon the best human judgment.

                This is the first weak link in risk assessment and B/C analysis.

                As humans we tend to overstate the benefits and/or understate the potential costs.

              • Mathius says:

                Not necessarily. As humans, some of us are risk takers and others are risk averse. (Neuroscientists have found a link between risk tolerance and a thickening of the amygdala that begins in infancy).

                Those who are risk averse, will over estimate the risks and underestimate the rewards. Risk takers will do the opposite.

                The goal is to do this in a mathematical and impartial manner to get the best results.

                But the point stands – if the payoff is sufficient (millions upon millions of gallons of oil), and the odds of failure are minuscule, people are going to take a big risk.

        • I find it funny that you will accept the idea of a random occurrence creating a universe that has no randomness in it, simply to avoid having to explain what “caused” the big bang. Either random stuff can happen, or it cannot.

          In this case, there was a cause, there was a high pressure pocket of natural gas. This is a known risk, and to prevent such an occurrence from causing a disaster, there were safeguards. In this case, unfortunately, the safeguards were either insufficient or failed to work properly. Is there a cause for that? Of course, but I am not sure yet what that is. Like Matt, I will await more information before passing judgement.

    • USWeapon says:


      Your entire premise for your post is flawed. I never once, in the entire article, employed a “shit happens” attitude. I certainly never used that statement. At no point did I argue that BP is not responsible. At no point did I say that BP should not be held accountable. What I argued was that this appears to me to be a tragic accident rather than the result of intentional negligence or unnecessary risk taking.

      In my opinion, this is just like a car accident. You come around a turn, your car blows a tire, causing you to hit another car and injure the other driver. You will be held accountable for the damage that you did. You are charged with a moving violation of some sort. But people don’t sit around and say that you intentionally sped around the corner knowing that you could hit someone. They don’t say that you intentionally ran your car on cheap tires and thus are the devil incarnate. It is an accident.

      In my opinion, this was an accident. BP will be held accountable, and they will be forced to deal with the repercussions. You didn’t see me claiming otherwise or saying that I didn’t think this should be the case. What I said was the media is doing what it always does… painting the company as the devil, stoking the flames of hatred against a company for what appears to be an accident.

      Your complete mischaracterization of my position is somewhat disturbing and disappointing.


      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Sheesh USW – where ya been? You clearly pose this as an accident – almost derisively dismissing attempts by anyone to begin looking at root cause and whom is responsible. It is utterly ridiculous for you to compare this to a car accident – please re-read the dialogue with Mat – the risk issues could not be more different. This is clearly evolving as an issue wherein deep see drilling may not have been ready for prime time, and the anecdotal stories paint an ugly picture of EVERYONE involved. Your screed in saying “we all need oil, it was an accident, stop bitching” is superficial at best.

        • USWeapon says:


          I do not at all dismiss attempts to look at root cause and who is responsible. I looked at what I could find and felt it was an accident. I don’t see anything that says otherwise at this point. So, yes, I do pose this as an accident. And the problem is that the media and pundits are immediately pushing to make this someone’s fault, BP for the most part, rather than simply figuring out what happened, holding whomever needs to be held so responsible, and making improvements to eliminate a similar mistake in the future.

          It has nothing to do with risk issues or scope when I compare it to a car accident. The CIRCUMSTANCES are the same. In the car accident, it was not someone doing something “wrong”, it was an accident. I merely submit that this may be that as well. A very large gas bubble may have been the entire cause. If so, why is that someone’s “fault”? I did not make the same comparison to a car accident that Matt made. I clearly was focusing on the intent aspect and nothing else.

          My “screed” was nothing of the sort. My point was we all need oil. We are going to have to get it somewhere. If this is an accident, then we should stop playing the childish blame game, and move on to doing it better in the future. Environmental activists are whiny bitches, so I do wish they would just shut up. But you missed the entire point of the article, and instead attempted to mischaracterize what I was saying and what the article was attempting to discuss. It seems that everyone else got it but you……


    • Ray Hawkins says:
  6. I live in Louisiana as well. From everything I have heard and read, this is indeed a tragic accident. For the MSM, sadly, it is simply fodder for their programs.

    I personally place a great deal of blame on the Federal Government. They have regulated this industry to death, and have pushed the companies to drill farther and farther off the coast. Drilling in 5,000 feet of water is inherently extremely more difficult than in shallower water and land. If for example the oil companies were allowed to drill in Anwar a disaster of this type would be tremendously easier to mitigate and control.

    This disaster will hurt fisheries and wildlife in general for decades…it is unavoidable. Had the Federal Government acted swiftly, then perhaps it could have been mitigated somewhat…perhaps not. I can only hope that a huge lesson is learned here.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Terry – how is this an accident yet you want to blame the Federal Government?

      The Feds didn’t push the drillers further offshore. There is a reason the more shallow waters were known as the “Dead Sea” – the oil was under deeper water.

      • Let me be a bit more clear. Everything I have read or heard points to this being an accident. Certainly BP did not want this to happen.

        I place some blame on the Feds because they prevent drilling in places where mitigation in instances like this would be much easier…They are not directly to blame, but have pushed these companies to explore riskier ways to obtain what could be much easier done.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Tell me what you’re reading then Terry – I’ve given up on MSM on this one.

          If the oil, the largest volumes of oil, are under deep water (specifically Mars and Thunder Horse), it matters not where in shallow water the Feds said you could or could not drill.

          • Try checking out, it is a Louisiana news website and generally has pretty up to date information on the spill.

            Unfortunately the ones who could possibly shed the most light on what happened, were remembered in a post from Wasabi. I am not saying that human mistakes were not made that led to the disaster, just that it is not intentional and the deeper we drill, the greater the difficulty and risk. There are plenty of on shore places to drill/extract oil that are not allowed…California coast, East coast, Anwar Province…

      • Ray:

        I wasn’t trying to trivialize the disaster by saying “shit happens”. Obviously I have touched a nerve here.

        If the well were closer to shore the environmental damage would be much worse. Not that it isn’t bad enough…

        So what is the solution? The amount of regulation in this industry is already ridiculous. Do we strive for a pristine environment with 30% unemployment? Or take all our cars away and ride horses and bicycles?

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          No Wasabi – we also don’t pose ridiculous responses to a problem we already knew existed. If at the point at which we thought we needed to drill in deep water the oil companies were told “not so fast, putting a rig in deep water w/o sufficient risk mitigation is akin to put a nuke reactor in downtown Dallas” they would have found a better or different solution. We’re too chicken shit to say come up with a better idea or plan.

          • Ray

            Here is the problem with your statement, at least based on what we know and don’t know.

            First you assume there was an increased risk that was ignored. Yet we have no evidence that this is true. This is where accidents can happen due to “unforeseen” risk. What we have is evidence that the risks were believed to be the same as other wells of equal depth and the same safety precautions were taken.

            Second, you assume that mitigation was not required to address this new risk. As with the prior, first you must have knowledge of a new risk to rationally expect new mitigation to be employed.

            Accidents do occasionally “just happen” but it is very rare. This usually means there was an “unforeseen” risk as opposed to a risk that was seen and ignored or considered to be lower than in reality.

            The next major cause is usually a series of events that taken separately look innocent but when accumulated cause disaster. System failure in essence.

            I suspect that may be the case here but that takes time to sort out. For example, what happened with spark protection procedures that allowed a spark to exist that ignited the gas on the platform? Did the concrete placed by Haliburton’s contractor have defects? Was the debt and chemical reactions unusual and thus miscalculations made in the mix?

            The Blow out protectors have apparently failed during testing before. Yet the regulators did not force industry to address this. Your “fail safe” mechanism should almost NEVER fail during testing.

            What I here you saying is that 0% risk is acceptable in deep ocean drilling. This means of course we must stop drilling in the ocean because we can not eliminate all risk associated with this practice. Am I correct in this assumption?

            Addition for all to consider. There are two parts to the analysis. One is the % risk, the other is the magnitude of impact caused by failure. A one in a million chance of something occurring is not bad, unless the outcome of failure is destruction of the human race. Then the odds don’t seem so good to many.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              JAC – you’re putting words in my mouth….

              “First you assume there was an increased risk that was ignored. Yet we have no evidence that this is true.”

              – Not sure where I said ignored – but for sake of argument, if the risk actualization was not properly assessed to begin with, implemented safeguard measures would not be aligned to properly mitigate the risk. In that light – yes – the increased risk could have been ignored.

              “This is where accidents can happen due to “unforeseen” risk.”

              No JAC – you’re referring to unforeseen threats. Not the same thing.

              “What we have is evidence that the risks were believed to be the same as other wells of equal depth and the same safety precautions were taken.”

              – I do not know we can say the same precautions were taken – the same design may have been in place while execution more likely was different.

              “Second, you assume that mitigation was not required to address this new risk.”

              – What do mean “not required”?

              “As with the prior, first you must have knowledge of a new risk to rationally expect new mitigation to be employed.”

              – No JAC – you are confusing threats with risks.

              “Accidents do occasionally “just happen” but it is very rare.” This usually means there was an “unforeseen” risk as opposed to a risk that was seen and ignored or considered to be lower than in reality.”

              – No JAC – it is usually a new or evolved threat, not an unforseen or new risk. In that case I believe it to be less an accident than poor risk management.

              “The next major cause is usually a series of events that taken separately look innocent but when accumulated cause disaster. System failure in essence.”

              – No JAC – that is called “chaining” – good risk managers assess those “innocent events” together as part of risk management.

              • Ray

                I think we are saying the same thing. Apparently in your profession you call them threats. In mine we call the Total effect a risk with various parts also called risk.

                Risk = chance of occurrence + magnitude of impact

                By system I was referring to the Risk assessment system not the physical system.

                Another factor to consider is that we rarely evaluate our successes in as much detail as our failures. Thus we miss little things like cracks in O rings that “Almost” caused a failure but since it didn’t we assumed our safety margin was good enough.

                I was not trying to put words in your mouth but explain what I thought you were saying.

          • But still nothing is 100% safe. We don’t close an airport for 20+ years because one plane crashes. Analogy to Santa Barbara oil spill in the 60’s in case you missed it.

            I do see your point, however nothing is 100%. Kind of like a bank robbery, “Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt”.

            The only ones who never make mistakes are those who don’t try. What would you suggest? How can we make things safer?

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              Wasabi – for this? We will not know how to make it safer until we know why the event happened. And then hopefully calmer cooler heads prevail and there is a solution. I’m not unaware that at least short term we need that Gulf oil.

  7. Ray Hawkins says:

    I have an idea – we’ll attribute everything that happens under the admin of Obama as, you guessed it, shit happens.

    Shit does not just happen.

    • See, you’re just being sarcastic and that won’t solve anything. This is way bigger than Talking points of either side. We at SUFA are supposed to propose solutions, not just bitch and argue.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Wasabi – my point was that while I agree 100% that the media flaming this will not help solve it sooner – chalking it up to shit happens is not any more responsible – esp for a site that carps about responsibility and accountability.

        • Ray the point seems to be more that the media and government are jumping the gun and trying to blame this on a purposely calculated risk by the company-an ignoring or purposeful evasion of the regulations-instead of human error, or equipment failure, or whatever else is considered an accident-not purposely done, not legally negligent. You keep stating it doesn’t fit the “shit happens” term based on there aren’t enough regulations. Which quite frankly seems like a different point all together.

        • Agreed.

  8. Looks accidental to me. I am with Paul on this one, we have “gotta blame someone” attitude in this country. We need to stop trying to “feel better” or find a place for our anger and just get over stuff.

    Also, we must keep drilling here as much as possible. We must also seek alternate fuels. We must also utilize other energy we already know how to make, like nuclear. All this fuss just gets in the way of real life.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @Jon – maybe I’m just stupid – how do you know this was or was not an accident? Until that question can be answered why the hell would you suggest we drill EVEN MORE in the SAME PLACE?

      • We can’t always know everything.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          But we can know enough Wasabi to make better decisions. Its called responsibility.

          • Mathius says:

            We do know enough to make good decisions. That doesn’t always mean we come out ahead.

            The best laid plans of mice and men go oft askew..

      • Oh so now it’s sabotage? I try to be respectful to everyone but not sure what to say here.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Sabotage? Not sure where I said that.

          • Just to suggest that BP ignored safety for profit leads to the assumption that this was just allowed to happen. Again, in keeping with the spirit of SUFA, what can be done

      • By “here” I meant “The US”, not necessarily the exact same spot. Altho, its obviously a rich deposit.

        If this was an accident, then we need better prevention, a backup for the shut off mechanism itself, perhaps, not just a backup trigger.

        If this was sabotage, then there is no reason to stop either, just to increase security. Find the punks that caused the problem and shut them down.

        If this was unavoidable and we just do not have the technology to stop it, then why has it not happened before?

  9. The 60 Minutes interview pointed out that the project was costing $1M/d and was weeks late. Yes they achieved their goal. Th BP execs overrode the rig owners on the very last cement plugging operation and opted to pull the drill head and with it the drilling mud before injecting the last cement plug. Since 2 plugs were already in place, this should have been ok but obviously they failed. The blowout occurred when the drill head was raised.
    Disasters such as this are the result of multiple failures, mechanical, operational, and management. Blame should wait until after the well is sealed and the investigation is over. Unfortunately the press, politicians and lawyers won’t wait. Oil patch accidents are always investigated. The oil companies take safety seriously but like other things it has to fight for its place in budgets.
    The environment will recover. It will take a decade. Dozens of tankers were sunk off our coasts during WWII. The Gulf of Alaska fisheries are fine.
    Why did the government not have the equipment in place for burning off the spill?

    Off to work now.

    • T-Ray

      As I understand it, the industry should have had the rigs for burning off the oil. Not the government.

      The law requires the companies to be 100% responsible. If that is the case the govt should have required the industry to have the rigs available.

      This means BOTH govt and industry failed on this one point.

      • The point is that the Govt wants to regulate everything. The safety rules are overkill. Now they can so something to help but they just want to bitch and blame.

    • T-Ray

      I will disagree with your comment that the oceans will be OK.

      I fear they will not but for the cause of truth I will say that we have nothing to base our assumptions one way or the other.

      Those tankers didn’t all spill everything or at once or at the same locations.

      The volume of oil spilled appears to be far greater than is being reported.

      There is a large layer of oil forming underwater, around 4000 ft I believe.

      We are talking about the Gulf, not necessarily the open Atlantic or Pacific.

      We don’t know for sure that past spills may not be causing some of the problems in our ocean ecosystems.

      I think the impacts of this will go much longer than 10 years as the estuaries, wetlands and shallow ocean habitat become impacted.

      One thing for sure. We ARE going to know the answer in a few years.

      • Many of those tankers were sunk within site of our shores. Yes, tankers were much smaller than. But the oceans did clean themselves up. They will do so again in the Gulf. It will take time, at least a decade. The oil that is leaking is LA light crude. It contains a lot of light ends that will evaporate on reaching the surface. Also some of it will be absorbed into the water and dispersed that way. The heavy oils and asphaltenes are what washes up on shore or sinks to the bottom. There are natural bacteria that will attack these and eventurally consume them. Oil is constantly washing up on SoCal beaches from natural seeps.

        We can abandon drilling in the Gulf and other offshore locations but outside of our territorial waters, we will not be able to stop China, Russia, Venezuela, etc. from tapping these sources. Hell we might even loan them money to do it like we loaned to the Brazilians.

  10. I don’t think I would label this as “shit happens”. “Accident” may not be the proper word either. Perhaps a better description could be a mistake. What I mean is that somewhere along the way in the well design there is a possibility that a calculation was done improperly.

    Someone did the geographic ananlysis on the well. Someone calculated the theoretical pressures that the equipment would see. Someone sized the equipment for these pressures. Someone supplied the equipment. Someone calculated what type and mixture of mud to use. Someone then had to mix and apply this mud properly (I believe this would have been the reason the MiSwaco hands were on the rig floor) Someone calculated what type and mixture of cement to use. Someone then had to mix and apply the cement properly. (probably Halliburton) And on and on and on…

    There are hundreds of places where a simple mistake in calculations and design could have happened. Add to this a random change in well conditions and you’ve got a very dangerous situation.

    • Very true. A series of relatively small errors can erupt into catastrophe vary quickly. I’m sure there are highly paid engineers working to make things work better.

      Wow, this is hard work, I usually put in my 2 cents and let everyone else do the work.

  11. The space shuttle Challenger exploded..the shuttle program stayed alive

    Three mile island disaster..we still strive for nuclear energy.

    Shit happens. Unfortunately.

    Or we could just quit drilling and rely on foreign sources of oil. That makes sense.

    Ray, don’t even bother.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Anita – you’re being ridiculous.

      Challenger, Three Mile Island – there were specific reasons those disasters occurred.

      They were anything but random unexplained events.

      Try again.

      • Ray

        For the sake of keeping you two from yelling past each other, I think you missed the point.

        It wasn’t that they were random, it was that the catastrophes did NOT stop the programs.

        She is saying that this disaster is no reason to STOP off shore drilling.

        Study, analyze, make adjustments and move on is I believe the message.


        • 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Then lets be crystal clear JAC – neither case was a “shit happens” case.

          • Ray

            Depends on your definition of “shit happens”. 🙂

            In my case I use it to describe the unforeseen or unexpected, or the accumulated series of apparently innocent events into a catastrophe.

            Negligence is a cause.

            Ignorance is a cause.

            Mistakes or unknown factors are a cause.

            The latter two we often chalk up to “shit happens” but that doesn’t mean we just ignore it and keep doing the same thing. It means that despite our best of intentions something failed. Now we study, analyze and adjust our practices.

            Maybe I am wrong but I think you are over reacting to the use of the term. I think…..

      • SK Trynosky Sr says:

        Unfortunately we are not God. Mistakes were made, mostly through overconfidence or complacency. When everything goes right for such a long time, it is common to start overlooking the basics. About a week before the Gulf blowout, I was arguing for more offshore drilling and using the North Sea operations (30 years old I believe as examples of drilling in horrible waters and not having a problem.

        Yup, complacency it is.

        • TMI was a human/training failure. A thermocouple was producing a high temperature which the operator did not believe so assumed it was faulty. Unfortunately TCs never fail high so it was a bad assumption. Had he believed his instruments, proper, timely corrective action could have been taken. The leason is know the fundamentals of your equipment.

          Challenger was a mechanical failure that was allowed to happen because of complacency, over confidence and politcal pressure. NASA got sloppy in many things hence the “accident”.

          Shortly after the Valdez incident, the Exxon Bayway, NJ refinery leaked 500,000 gallons of fuel oil into NY harbor. A pipe line under the bay had been fractured by another ship causing the leak. There were flow meters on each end of the pipe with a difference calculation tied to an alarm. The alarm sounded but since it frequently sounded because the difference between to large numbers is very close to zero and often below the noise in the signal. So the operator routinely shut off the alarm. Had he looked at the numbers, he would have realized the difference was much larger than the noise, hence real. Nothing like having a spill in the front yard of the NY media. Routines numb operators to the real warnings.

  12. Ray

    What is your point? Are you arguing accidents can’t happen or that we just shouldn’t drill in the ocean because of the fact that no matter what we do accidents can happen?

    • Mathius says:

      I think he’s advocating for more and better safeguards. I think that Ray thinks we have an unacceptable level of risk and that we should either stop drilling entirely or do so with a level of security that makes it all but impossible to have a leak. Ever.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        I’m not quick enough I guess….

        To be more specific – deep water drilling is inherently riskier – because of the elevated impact severity in the event a vulnerability is exercised by a threat source. In this case, the safeguards should be commensurate with the risk level else we have a potential fubar scenario.

        Also – I do not agree that this is just an accident or shit happens scenario. These failures happen because of a breakdown in the process, or by people or by technology or a combination. The media throwing gasoline on this fire, which MAY preclude or complicate deep root cause analysis and remedy. But to dismiss it as something random that we may just not ever would have been able to control or manage is nuts.

        • Now that I understand-I think the “shit happens” comment is based more on the trying to find a scapegoat to blame-not as a reason to not find out why it happened-two different things in my mind. An accident can happen because of lack of knowledge-we must always learn from these disasters-it is the only way to not make the same mistakes at least for the same reason.

        • Mathius says:

          I assure you, Ray, regardless of whatever becomes public, the oil companies will make sure that they know full well the root cause. They do not like it when this happens to their rigs and they are going to make sure that whatever caused this specific failure does not happen again.

          They never repeat their big mistakes. They just make new ones.

        • I’m definitely NOT dismissing anything. We have been drilling in the Gulf for over 30 years. How many of these incidents have occurred? I go back to the plane crash analogy. They don’t happen too often, but when they do a lot of people die. Should we shut down air traffic until we are able to prevent all plane crashes? Should we take away cars so they never crash? Should we cut off tree branches so our kids don’t climb trees and risk injury?

          It’s a risky world and we can’t prevent everything. The most qualified people are working to prevent another disaster.

        • Ray,

          – deep water drilling is inherently riskier –

          So why aren’t we drilling in ANWAR?

  13. SK Trynosky Sr says:

    Anita, there are no new Nuke plants since 3 mile island. There will be no more offshore drilling (by us). While an accident, it played right into the hands of the no new drilling crowd. The media, because of their flagrant, obvious biases, will hype this one to the max. Ergo, no new drilling. Nothing but oily bird stories for the next year.

    Having said that, triple redundancy is the only way to go.

    I wonder how we will stop the Russians and Chinese from drilling in the Gulf? Perhaps a strongly worded editorial in the NY Times?

    Maybe if we were allowed to tap that monstrous formation in the Dakotas, we woulkd not be drilling offshore? While we are on the subject how much oil can be accessed from the Indian reservations? An opportunity for them to make more money than with casinos and an opportunity to demonstrate what can be accomplished safely, in an ecologically sound manner, with modern extraction technology. This, after a few years could be rubbed into the faces of the anti crowd. .

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @SK – clarification sir…..please correct your statement

      In five seconds I ID’d at least three that have gone online since TMI (Wolf Creek, Perry and Watts Bar).

      • SK Trynosky Sr says:


        Thank you for the correction, If I have time. I will check them out. I would be interested to see when they were first proposed.

        I use the claim I made because it echos a friend of mine who works for GE. I will have to flog him tonight for misinforming me. Being a native New Yorker, I am also somewhat biased after Gov. Cuomo, soon to be known as the elder, shut down and had holes drilled rendering the containment building permanently useless at Shoreham, right before it was to become operational.

        With all the dither though over energy shortages, energy independence and such I would have thought that in the 31 years since Three mile island and “the China Syndrome” there would have been more plants built unless their development was affected by the event and movie. .

        It seems that the French have some 59 plants currently operating with 56 of these having been built after the 1973 oil embargo. It begs the question, Why?

        Once again, I stand corrected. Thanks for the info.

        • SK Trynosky Sr says:

          Well, there may actually be more than three. Apparently we are all guilty of accidentally passing on bad info. My friend says that the issue is actually the fact that so few licenses have been granted in so large a country and the reasons have little to do with facts and a lot to do with bad publicity leading to NIMBY. He asks why the media for example is so enamored with health care in Europe which they claim works and so quiet about the French Nuke system which we know works. An interesting question.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            Good point SK – sorry for being snarky. I actually thought the same was correct regarding new facilities – perhaps no new ones have been proposed since then (although I think TVA may be changing that soon).

            As for Euro – was interesting article in Sunday NYT front page on how many in EU are rethinking the social services (amount of) in light of all the budget issues so many of them are having. Pretty compelling stuff.

    • Good point-do we actually make decisions about how and where we drill based on safety. Does the conflict over whether to drill at all move the importance of safety to a secondary position behind political considerations?

      • SK Trynosky Sr says:


        I don’t know whether we will or can ever be totally “safe”. Mathius pointed that out earlier.

        Back after the 1973 embargo, there were alarmists pointing out all the time that we were running out of oil. These were the same people who were telling us we were facing global disaster with climate change (cooling at that time). Neither of these proved correct. Apparently there is a whole lot of oil out there. Lord only knows what is available in Russia or the Dakotas. So, I would say that up to this time the drilling that we Americans have been allowed to do has been based primarily on alleged safety issues.

        I do not think that the US Government ever would have allowed an operation with the risks of the North Sea field to go through off our shores.

        So, for the life of me, unless it is the enviroreligion, I cannot understand why we don’t look for oil where it is, why we don’t develop the resources we have and why we take no pride at all in the tremendous progress we have made in cleaning up after ourselves and reducing the damage,if any, of using fossil fuels.

        Political considerations are in the ascendancy. Just look at Governor Arnold’s response after the blowout. However, the considerations being pushed make safety moot since we ain’t gonna drill no more. I would however just love to see how we are going to stop the Chinese and Russians from drilling off Cuba and Venezuela.

        Let’s take the politics a step further. It is now 33 days into the catastrophe, the Pres. is still not being held accountable, neither are his Department heads. If this had been four years ago, and a certain Geo. Bush had been at the helm, do you think the press response would have been: A. The same, B. weaker or C. Calling for his impeachment over Cheny’s links to Haliburton?.

  14. The greed angle satisfies a public that is all too eager to place blame and assume some sort of moral high ground (as a side note, isn’t it odd that the folks claiming the moral high ground are the ones pushing the seizure of the fruits of another person’s labor while simultaneously considering a company that earns an honest profit as the devil incarnate?). The greed angle is one played well by the progressive movement.

    And here I find it odd that “the fruits of another person’s labor doesn’t take into account the 11 killed on the rig weren’t shareholders sitting on their duffs (so much for the sweat of their brow argument) collecting on an investment (not actual physical work—an investment). USW, you’re as biased (and emotional) as the progressives are. It is BP’s rig and while I agree they didn’t want this to happen, it did happen. It is their responsibility. I was all for offshore oil drilling until this. I don’t know the real story behind this mess, but the consequences are devastating to nature and local and global economies. I don’t care whether BP is demonized or not, but they can’t put a price tag on what this will cost (already has cost) and as far as I’m concerned, BP’s assets should be seized until this mess is dealt with to a satisfactory level.

    I also wouldn’t be so sure BP (or any oil conglomerate) earns “honest” profits. There has been some documented dirty dealing known to have gone on in the world of big business … from time to time.

    • Transocean’s rig hired by BP.

      • Translation = law suits that go nowhere.

        BP keeps its assets, the family of the 11 dead from the rig explosion get compensated in dollars 10 years from now (unless they settle) and all that toil the shareholders went through pumping that oil is rewarded at the pump unabated.

        The fruits of their labor (those hard working shareholders) remain ripe …

  15. Cyndi P says:

    posting for comments

  16. Can we call it a SNAFU ?

    • Maybe-maybe not-what does it mean?

      • Situation normal all fouled up. First acronym I ever learned.

        • Mathius says:

          I’m not so sure “fouled” is the right word…

          Try “Fraked”.. it’s closer. But this is a civilized blog, and we need not go any further 🙂

  17. Short article with some good info, clean-up efforts may do more harm than good.

    I heard Bobby Jindal for two weeks, has been asking daily for permission to erect sand bars in front of costal wetlands, and cannot get permission from the Army corps of Engineers(wouldn’t Obama have some influence there?)
    Also remember something about FEDERAL LAW requires the US or states to maintain stockpiles of fire booms, which is the standard way of containing oil spills. So who broke the law? My thought, government buracrats are never held responsible. They have a large amount of standard booms at staging areas, that has not been deployed. Maybe they are waiting on it to get “bad”?

    Have heard a plan to set off a nuke above the leak, and fuse it closed. Have not heard how deep below ground the gas/oil is, worries me they might cause a collasps, releasing all the gas/oil at once.

    • SK Trynosky Sr says:

      That nuke idea is a humdinger. Sort of reminds me of the proposal in the ’70 to cover the arctic and antarctic with charcoal dust to increase heat absorption and prevent global cooling.

    • SK Trynosky Sr says:

      Jindal ought to just do it and take the heat. Somebody has to be willing to stand up to Uncle Sugar someday.

  18. Taking a little break here. Thanks JAC for your support. Ray I’m not trying to “win” anything here. Your points are valid. I work in this industry and the deepwater drilling is good for me because ROV’s will always be working. USW this is harder than I thought but it’s good to be engaged.

  19. Cyndi P says:
  20. Highjack, from the Bobo Files/Red State Progressive

    I just wanted to send out this plea on behalf of this great city in which I reside. We need your help and support. Nashville, and surrounding areas, are drying out but the water is the least of our concerns now. We have thousands of people without homes, without clothes and without hope. Homes can be replaced and clothes can be washed but hope is harder to come by.

    You see, we all watched as America spent hundreds of hours and millions of dollars helping a third would island recover from a devastating earthquake. While necessary and hugely important, many people lamented that our country was more concerned with others than our own. Yet, we here in Nashville watched our rivers rise and our creeks overflow as the national media was focusing their attention elsewhere. We watched homes flood and people die while NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox ignored our increasingly dire situation.

    Yes, the oil spill is important. I’m from Pensacola and still have family in Louisiana. Yes, the car bomb in Times Square was important. I have visited that very area and watch the ball drop every New Years. Yes, Arizona is acting foolishly with regards to their stance on immigration. I was born in Mesa and still have relatives there. I get all of those things and they all affect me too. But none of them were urgent. The oil spilled, the bomb was disarmed and the law was passed. Yet Nashville still sat, ignored, forgotten, flooded.

    The national news focused on things that didn’t happen and ignored the thing that did.

    We need your help. If you can’t come here to haul trash, or sweep up or hold hands, then donate. Donate money to the Nashville Red Cross or Hands on Nashville. If you can’t donate money, donate things. I know we all have extra clothes, shoes, toys, books, toiletries to send. If you don’t know where to send them, send them to me. I will take them to the places that need them. If you can’t send things, then tell people. Tell your friends, tell your schools, tell your churches or synagogues or community centers. Tell your book club, your tennis club or your car club. Tell your work, your coworkers, your clients, your family. Tell anyone. Tell EVERYONE!

    We need you right now. Show us that we aren’t alone and that we all learned a lesson from Katrina and what happened in New Orleans. Prove to us that America takes care of it’s own. Don’t let us down. We can’t afford for you to do that.

    I give you my permission to publish this on blogs, send it to your friends, send it to your newspapers, send it via carrier pigeon to the farthest reaches of the world. I give my permission for you to help.

    Red Cross:

    Hands on Nashville:

    My address: 784 1st Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37201

    My cell: 615.852.5262

    With kindest regards and crossed fingers,

    Jana Mitchell
    Resident of Nashville, TN via FL, GA, AL, MS, AZ, HI, and AK

  21. Question for all of you…..

    How much offshore drilling is actually done by the USA? Anyone know? What if the rigs owned by..ummmm…China. How do you expect to hold them responsible? Do you honestly think that China will “belly up to the bar” if they had a blow out? Do you really have any confidence in world courts? (I do not at all and if I were President, I would be out of the world courts so fast, the world would stop spinning on its axis).

    It is BP’s rig. They are responsible. They have the whole responsibility regardless of subcontractor negligence or whatever….or regardless of “shit happens”. If a sub contractor did something wrong, it is BP’s responsibility to go after them in what ever venue they wish.

    So, ok USA, ban all offshore drilling. Become more dependent upon foreign oil. Go friggin’ green….it is not going to stop anything and offshore drilling is going to continue to happen. Do you think that other countries are going to stop drilling in our waters? They are not. So, where are we then?

    • “our waters” defined as off our coast. A spill off our coast will still spell ecological disaster…no matter who does the damn drilling. This witch hunt is ridiculous.

      • SK Trynosky Sr says:


      • SK Trynosky Sr says:

        Yes it is but the politicians think that it gets them votes and they are probably right. First “create” a crisis, then offer a “cure”.

  22. Nuclear power plants are safer, more economical and more reliable than any other source of mass electrical generation on this planet. Yet they have been demonized by Hollywood as far back as I can remember. However, the U.S. Navy has developed and used nuclear reactors on its submarines and aircraft carriers since the early 1950’s, and to my knowledge, there has not been a single incident of any sailors glowing in the dark or having monstrous looking offspring as Hollywood would have you believe happens when people live and work around a nuclear generating plant.

    Petroleum has turned out to be so useful in so many things that it is now being used to terrify the people into believing that it will someday run out while simultaneously destroying the entire planet if we don’t stop driving our cars immediately.

    On the other hand, I had an uncle who worked on one of those newfangled drilling rigs way back in the 1950’s out of Galveston, Texas. As I recall he once told me that the shrimp boaters were originally dead set against drilling in the gulf because they thought that the rigs would scare away the shrimp. As it turned out, much to the shrimpers delight, it seems that the shrimp used the rigs legs as a breeding ground of sorts and actually increased the population of the shrimp.

    I suppose that the point I am trying to make is that not all that we humans do is bad, unless we believe the people who make their living playing make-believe in Hollywood.

    This oil spill in the gulf will teach us something new about deep water drilling, just like the Exxon Valdez wreck taught us that we do in fact need to have double hulled tankers, and it will most likely turn out for the best in the long run. This planet, after all, is nothing but a continuous recycle machine. Nothing stays the same, everything is renewable – from the air we breath to the dirt at our feet, no matter what happens, it all gets recycled.

    Life is a constant learning process.

    • Murphy's Law says:

      I’ve read the article and most of what has been posted today, and I think you have said it best so far. I agree completely….


    • SK Trynosky Sr says:


      Very nicely put. Heinlein posited, before we had nuclear energy that we would have it and that it should be run by a Navy type organization where there would be absolute accountability. I assume that navy reactors are all about the same and that information about defects found in one would be immediately communicated to the staff monitoring the others. Not so sure that this is the civilian model.

      My son a Merchant Marine Academy (yes it is s US service academy)grad was telling me a few months back that the mission of the Academy is so badly compromised by the lack of American Flag shipping that they are thinking of alternative missions. One is a Federal Nuclear Power School. I would assume that all grads would have a Naval Reserve commission. This makes a lot of sense to me. Never did see any big news about heads rolling at 3 Mile Island.

      • The problem with U.S. nuclear reactors is that no two are alike, thanks to the Hollywood types who think we would all glow in the dark. I was stationed at the northern end of Camp Pendleton for many years and my family lived at the San Onofre housing area, and nope – we do not glow in the dark for having resided less than a half mile from the reactors. I honestly believe that they could hit that place with a 100 megaton nuke and it wouldn’t even crack the concrete it is so thick, thanks be to the earthquake doomsayers.

        I understand that the country of France did a comprehensive study and an extensive testing program to find out which design would be the most reliable and safest to operate and then dictated that all of that countries reactors be built alike. France has never had a serious problem with any of their reactors and I think that they have the most of any country. On top of that France refurbishes all of its spent fuel rods and reuses them thereby drastically reducing the nuclear waste storage problem. That is not done here in the U.S. since no two reactors are alike . . . . . 😦

        • SK Trynosky Sr/. says:

          Interesting to speculate on why no two are alike, is it that capitalism has run amok because each plant is run by a different power entity or that we are just being stupid.

          Ray got me looking at French power plants with his comment topside ( I love the internet, just Google: French Nuclear Power Plants). They are not all exactly alike but that is their goal. Right now, 34 of the 59 are identical. The remaining 15 are of only three other types. There now seems to be a new RFP out for new designs which will govern the 21st century. France has one Nuke power agency but there is nothing stopping the NRC or DOE from picking a prototype. If it is designed by Westinghouse and we are afraid that we could creatre a monopoly, require them to sub it out every now and then or license it. There is always a way. Why don’t people realize that?

          Reminds me of my dad bitching and moaning one day that there seemed to be 3,257 different automobile radiator caps, when they all served the same purpose!

          • The reason no two are alike is simple = EPA. I believe that it is dictated that each and every nuke power plant submit a complete and detailed EIR(environmental impact report) to include any and all possible disasters that could conceivably occur. These things are nothing but a pain in the butt. I have seen one for a golf course in SO CAL and it totaled seven volumes(the course was denied the final nine holes because of a rodent that just happened to be in the area temporarily).

            The EPA has made it way too expensive to build and operate any new nuke power plants in the U.S., and now Obama’s cap&trade ideas will make it way too expensive to have any electrical power generating plants at all.

            Welcome to the dark ages, revisited.

  23. TexasChem says:

    Mechanical failure and human error both contributed to this event.
    It is obvious the cause and effects of the situation.That is as long as everything the public is being made aware of is absolute truth.Which I doubt.I am confident that some information is being with-held.But, that is only my opinion.

    The Feds and BP both should just tighten their belts and deal with the situation.The Hollywood dramatization being portrayed by the mainstream media (along with the Feds approval) is sickening.

    I believe the incident is being used by “greenies” as an example to further their initiatives.Perhaps someone should research and follow the money trail to see who would actually benefit from a disaster like this to attempt to prove or disprove the allegations of criminal or accidental USW.

  24. Really rough week!

    Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel ” pick up your shovel, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the promised land”.

    Nearly 75 years ago, Roosevelt said, “Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a camel, this is the promised land”.

    Now Obama has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of camels, and mortgaged the promised land!

    Furthermore, I was so depressed last night thinking about Health Care Plans, the economy, the wars, lost jobs, savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc…

    I called Lifeline, the suicide help line. Got a freakin’ call center in Pakistan . I told them I was suicidal.

    They all got excited and asked if I could drive a truck…

  25. TexasChem says:

    Blatant important hijack:

    Anyone wondering at the motives of the Brazillian/Turkey pledge to enrich Irans’ Uranium should read this article.

  26. Judy Sabatini says:
  27. Judy Sabatini says:

    United Nations To Pass “The Small Arms Treaty”

    Obama – Hillary & UN Destroy Second Amendment

    Hillary Clinton and her anti-constitution cronies are partnering up with the anti-Second Amendment collaborators of the United Nations to pass “The Small Arms Treaty.” If this treaty is passed YOUR firearms rights will be compromised and the Second Amendment will be obliterated. “The Small Arms Treaty” is being touted by liberal gun-grabbers as a treaty that will help fight against “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “international crime rings.” The treaty is merely a façade to seize control of ALL FIREARMS owned by law abiding American citizens.


    The treaty calls for tougher licensing requirements. That means everyday, law-abiding Americans will be subjected to even more bogus bureaucracy to obtain a firearm. It is unfathomable that regular citizens would be treated just like the criminals the treaty claims to protect us from. “The Small Arms Treaty” will hijack and destroy all weapons that are classified “unauthorized.” What exactly classifies a firearm as “unauthorized” is up to the liberal gun-haters. The treaty will ban the trade, sale, and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons. Clinton, Obama and their anti-liberty commission are also calling for an INTERNATIONAL GUN REGISTRY that would pave the way to eventually disarming every American citizen.


    The globalist gun agenda ultimately seeks to take away not only your individual liberties, but also more importantly, your complete autonomy. Obama, Hilary and the United Nations conspirators believe that every single American is not capable of making their own decisions so they want to make them for us. Just like Obamacare, again big bureaucrats want to take away your right to live freely without the government breathing down your neck.

  28. Cyndi P says:

    Question for Black Flag,

    Do you think the International
    Emergency Economic Powers Act will come into play when the SHTF? Do you think gold and silver will be confiscated again? I was reading this and it got me wondering…

    Click to access confiscation2006.pdf

    • Cyndi,

      No, I do not believe confiscation is at all part of any plan.

      It’s possible – yes, but very, very unlikely.

      Question 1: “Why would they?” Gold or silver are not money – haven’t been since 1932 for normal mundane folks like you, and since 1978 for the elite.

      Next, where is most of the gold? … in India and China. And they have a culture rooted in gold and any attempt of those governments to seize it would be the end of those governments.

      Next, the amount of gold held outside of central banks – in private hand not India or China is est. 1,700 tonnes, total. @$39,000/kilo, that’s only $66,000,000,000 or $66 billion – or about two weeks worth of the budget of the USA.

      Double that for gold held in coin in private hands world wide, and you have a month’s worth of the US budget.

      Will they put restrictions on the sale? Maybe…but how can they enforce that? So you don’t sell to a government agent… you sell privately.

      In other words, the amount of gold outside of central banks and India/China that they can seize is small. The moment they tried, the price would explode through the roof, the national currency would end, the rest of the world’s nations would immediately demand withdrawal and repatriation of their stores and the global economy would stop.

      This is not 1932 where you had $20 gold coins in your pocket. This in 2010 where you have nickel and tin and paper in your pocket.

      • Cyndi P says:

        Thanks. That makes perfect sense. Too bad half the crap the regime does doesn’t make sense unless you believe it’s trying destroy the current system. I’m really begining to believe that is what’s being done.

        • Cyndi,

          I do not think this is part of any plan.

          The destruction of the status quo is opposite of the desire of the elite.

          Currently, he game is heavily in their favor as it has been for the last 200 or more years.

          They want the game to go on forever.

          But the game is a contradiction in the eyes of the Universe, so it must come to an end.

          The elite are losing control – not gaining control.

          We, the little peon mundane people, see the world falling “out of control”.

          Step up one stair and then look down.

          It was NOT in YOUR control in the first place.

          It was under the control of the Elite, and they are tripping and falling – NOT YOU.

          Don’t see the messy business as an attack against you – us mundanes lost two centuries ago.

          This is the collapse of elites. They are fighting like hell to stop it.

          They are trying to MAKE IT YOUR PROBLEM. Do not accept it.

          Step back, and watch the fireworks – the mighty are falling and it will make a lot dust and noise.

          As a pundit said:
          “When you see a semi-trailer in your lane, don’t crash into a ditch. Simply change lanes.”

  29. Now that reports are surfacing about how BP and others in the industry were writing their own reports and bribing regulators (or were those just “gifts”), perhaps there will be a better understanding about the demonization issue; we all know it happens and the gov’t and the regulating committees (like the SEC, those in charge of oil regulation were too busy watching porn) are corrupt, but that doesn’t lessen BP and their ilk’s responsibility in a) the bribing and b) the shortcuts that are killing an entire ecosystem.

    One day I feel the way BF does (because the gov’t can’t seem to do anything right) and the next day private industry proves themselves too irresponsible (I call it greedy) to leave unchecked.

    • Charlie –

      The difference is, that BP will pay for its damage, one way or the other (as long as government doesn’t step in and “cap” it).

      When does the government ever pay for the damage it does? You would have a hell of a time even convincing them that any damage was inflicted at all, or that they were ever responsible.

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