Oil Update: Saturday

Update: Jail time, it seems to me…

WASHINGTON — Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon far earlier than those the company described to Congress this week.

The problems involved the well casing and the blowout preventer, which are considered key pieces in the chain of events that led to the disaster on that rig.

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, the company was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.

On June 22, 2009, for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal well casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst case scenario,” warned Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.” NY Times: Urbina

The plume shown in the PBS live cam looks black again, not muddy brown. Not good news, though interpretation of what is visible is disputed by those with experience in the field.

BP PLC spokesman John Curry said operations for the “top kill fix” continued Saturday, but he said he could not give a timetable for when the maneuver might be declared a success or failure. Engineers may not know until at least Sunday if the fix is successful… NOLA

BP engineers failed again to plug the gushing oil well on Saturday, a technician working on the project said, representing yet another setback in a series of unsuccessful procedures the company has tried a mile under the sea to stem the flow spreading into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP made a third attempt at what is termed the “junk shot” Friday night, a procedure that involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-story safety device atop the well. The maneuver is complementary to the heavily scrutinized effort known as a “top kill,”which began four days ago… NYT


It’s become obvious from BP’s doublespeak and moving of the goalposts that the “top kill” hasn’t worked. I’m beginning to believe exactly that; that BP knows the top kill has failed, but that they are continuing to pump mud out on the ocean floor rather than admit it. Typically, you know pretty quickly if a top kill works. BP has been pumping the kill since Wednesday, trying a number of tactics, including junk shots. Their announcement last night that it would be at least through the weekend before if they know the results of the kill doesn’t ring true to me. Certainly they know a lot more than what they are saying. HuffPo: Cavnar


Bob Herbert

“Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on Thursday, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”

With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios.

These are not Little Lord Fauntleroys who can be trusted to abide by some fanciful honor system. These are greedy merchant armies drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the seas while at the same time doing all they can to stifle the government oversight that is necessary to protect human lives and preserve the integrity of the environment.

President Obama knows that. He knows — or should know — that the biggest, most powerful companies do not have the best interests of the American people in mind when they are closing in on the kinds of profits that ancient kingdoms could only envy. BP’s profits are counted in the billions annually. They are like stacks and stacks of gold glittering beneath a brilliant sun. You don’t want to know what people will do for that kind of money. read on…

The Big Oil Fairy Tale

I suppose one can construct a scenario where the administration managed to prevent BP from drilling this well in the first place — a mere two months after taking office and while Republicans were scheming to obstruct and block its moves. Short of that, though, it’s clear that the blame for the disaster rests with BP, Big Oil, the Bush-Cheney administration (which larded the government with Big Oil stooges), and the industry’s strong-arm supporters in Congress (which enacted the voluntary, “trust us,” self-regulation we have today).

The president has failed to explain to the public how unbridled greed and self-regulation allowed the Goldman Sachses of the world to destroy the financial system, and with it the economy. Instead, people are angry at government for how it tried (and succeeded at) fixing the problem. He has failed in the same way when it comes to Big Oil.

As president, Obama bought into Big Oil’s story that new technology meant that a big blowout disaster was impossible. And so he embraced offshore drilling a few months ago and even now has been slow to stop defending it. Thus, the questions that all Americans should be asking their president isn’t whether he’s plugged the leak yet. It’s, “Why did you believe Big Oil and its right-wing allies?”

I guess the president has never told his daughter the story of how conservatives keep weakening all government regulation, how they demagogue any effort to oversee the private sector, and how when the inevitable disasters come, they blame the victim and demand to be put in charge. Joe Romm at Climate Progress

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