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How guilty is BP?

Robert Peston | 12:15 UK time, Friday, 3 September 2010

How important will be BP's report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which is due to be published in the coming week or so?

Deepwater Horizon oil rig

Well it certainly won't be the last word on the subject: BP faces official investigations and court cases galore on how 11 rig workers lost their lives in April and why so much oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.

And some will refuse to believe any analysis by BP, on the basis that it can't help but be tendentious.

But even if you see the report as the case for the defence, it still matters - partly because it is the first detailed evaluation of what went wrong.

And (call me naive) but I don't see how it can be an utter whitewash. It is imperative for BP's owners - its shareholders - to understand the risks their company runs when drilling in deep waters: any attempt to disguise those risks would not be tolerated by them (surely); it would be seen as grotesque negligence on the part of BP's executives.

So I would expect a long, detailed, technical evaluation - which, even if it's not the final word on BP's culpability, will have implications for how oil companies endeavour to extract hydrocarbons from fields deep below the ocean.

In that sense, it should matter to more than just investors in BP. It should influence estimates of how much more tappable oil exists in the world - and what kind of price (direct financial, environmental) will have to be paid to tap it.

The investigation for BP was carried out by Mark Bly, BP's Group Vice President for Safety and Operations, and a team of more than 70 engineers, technical specialists and business people, some from outside the company.

For what it's worth, he has assured colleagues that he has felt no pressure from senior BP executives to cover anything up or deliver a particular verdict. And he feels he has had the resources to do the job (or so I'm told).

That said, he hasn't had all the relevant data he requested from the important contractors, viz Transocean, which owned and operated the Deepwater rig on behalf of BP, and Halliburton, which cemented the well. So he has been forced to make some assumptions in reaching his conclusions.

What has he found?

Well we know he has not concluded that BP produced a shoddy design for the well or forced its contractors to cut corners in a significant way.

How so?

Well BP's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said in July - when BP was announcing its second quarter results - that he was confident BP won't be found guilty of gross negligence.

Now it's impossible to know whether he'll be proved right as and when BP's culpability under the Clean Water Act is finally determined. But he couldn't possibly have made the claim if his own colleague, Mark Bly, had uncovered proof of grotesque dereliction of duty.

That said, any report which doesn't raise questions about safety practices would not be believable.

So as the named party on the relevant oil lease - for Mississippi Canyon Block 252 - BP (which owns 65% of property) will be embarrassed (at the very least) by its own investigation.

Even if there turned out to be important errors by employees of Transocean as operator of the platform, that would not absolve BP of blame: regulators and BP's owners (and presumably the rest of us) would expect BP to assess, monitor and correct the quality of its contractors' performance.

In a perverse way, the best that BP can hope for is that Bly has found systemic safety failures. Because it is unlikely those systemic problems would apply only to BP's management of this one new well.

If questions are raised about the quality of safety kit, or the robustness of procedures for monitoring performance or about the skills of employees, these would probably be questions for the oil industry in general when drilling in deeper water, not just for BP.

One lesson from the debacle is that the catastrophic potential of drilling in deep water is (arguably) only marginally less than what can happen when a plane falls out of the sky or a nuclear power plant goes badly wrong.

Are the safety practices in oil on a par with standard practice in nuclear generation or the airline industry? I would be very surprised if that reassuring conclusion will be drawn from Mr Bly's report.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.


    So many words, so little said.
    Actions speak louder than words.

    Not particularly directed at you Mr Peston, just the state of the world as I see it. Fairly meaningless is usually the destination of hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for your thoughtful blog and for moving the debate away from banks and pensions, the health of many of your regular contributors will improve. I'd like to see all stakeholders in this debacle, including Halliburton, admit all their contributions to this disaster. That way lessons can be learnt and future drilling, if there is any appetite for it, can continue. BP, like the English banks, needs to learn the lessons of it's past mistakes to emerge a stronger company. That will benefit all.

    P.S. There's still no revolution afoot.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's in Halliburton and Transocean's interests to "muddy the waters" for the BP investigation. Long way to go. It's a shame Hayward's not on the scene.

  • Comment number 4.

    Robert

    You have ignored the elephant in the room!

    The American propensity to use a disproportionately large share of the planet's oil. Combined with their inability to understand that they must live with everyone on the planet and fairly share its resources. [And to understand the real limitations of their 'power'] This caused the USA to propel oil exploration into very difficult physical (and costly) environments so that corners had to be cut. All of these operating companies are just doing what the government and the American people forced them to do!

    By ignoring this you are playing the administration's game of blaming someone else when the reality is that the Nation and its people are to blame.

  • Comment number 5.

    "And (call me naive) but I don't see how it can be an utter whitewash. It is imperative for BP's owners - its shareholders - to understand the risks their company runs when drilling in deep waters: any attempt to disguise those risks would not be tolerated by them (surely); it would be seen as grotesque negligence on the part of BP's executives."

    I don't want to call you naive Robert - but isn't it imperative that bank owners and shareholders understand the risks their company takes in all it's business decisions?

    - look how that turned out.

    The revolution has begun in everywhere except Hendon.

  • Comment number 6.

    Meanwhile the FTSE and the DOW will shoot up today because the rise in unempoloyment in the states wasn't as bad as expected.

    You couldn't make it up - more jobs lost and the markets think this is a positive sign.

    It's a reflection of how far we've come - when 'not so bad news' is greeted with cheers and ticker tape.

  • Comment number 7.

    John, I most strongly disagree with the portion of your statement where you say "...so that corners had to be cut". This is simply not true, and I am totally confident that the BP investigation will confirm this. There is no question in my mind but that we will find that safety was compromised at several different steps in the well drilling process.

    However, we will also find that none of those safety compromises were necessary to the drilling of the well and that no single cause created this disaster. A number of poor decisions were made, most but not all by BP, which happened to combine in this well to create an absolute catastrophe. No one, certainly not BP or it's contractors, anticipated this outcome, as all of these poor decisions had been made before on other wells without such severe results.

    Different reasonable, cost-effective decisions at multiple points during this project could have avoided this disaster and new procedures should result making this combination of decisions highly unlikely in the future.

  • Comment number 8.

    A report can be spot on. Correct in every way.

    But worthless if its readers know diddly squat about the technology and points raised.

    And if those readers have their own agenda?

  • Comment number 9.

    #2 Sam_From_Hendon wrote

    That way lessons can be learnt and future drilling, if there is any appetite for it, can continue. BP, like the English banks, needs to learn the lessons of it's past mistakes to emerge a stronger company. That will benefit all.

    P.S. There's still no revolution afoot.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Do you mean, like how the banks learn't the lessons from the collapse of Barings Bank (Their board admitted they had no idea how Nick Leeson made so much money for them) just as how their modern counterparts drove their business to the edge of extinction, before being bailed out.

    There is a revolution, it just might not take the form you expect and that could prove to be more far-reaching than you could imagine.Who knows it might just make the Swiss adjust their welcome to outsiders from Hendon.

  • Comment number 10.

    "I'd like to see all stakeholders in this debacle, including Halliburton, admit all their contributions to this disaster."

    Oh look, there's a pig!

    Although even if Halli and Transocean did provide everything, it won't change anything in the big picture.

    BP is forever tarnished, and held 100% responsible by America, no matter what the report, and future reports, will say. The real positive is, as Willem said, new procedures should emerge. But for "the flower of British industry" as Robert calls it, nothing good will come out of it.

    Indeed, this is yet another impending PR disaster for BP.

  • Comment number 11.

    Robert your question ;

    Are the safety practices in oil on a par with standard practice in nuclear generation or the airline industry? I would be very surprised if that reassuring conclusion will be drawn from Mr Bly's report.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Are you fogetting Chernobyl? How many people died as a result.
    Have you forgotten how many people have died in aircraft failure?(as opposed to human error).
    I am amazed that the lessons from history are over looked so easily.You could argue that it is human nature for mistakes to made,but if you insist on putting your hand in the fire?

  • Comment number 12.

    Sam, although Hendon appears to be safe - it does appear that the rest of the UK has descended into anarchy. See link:

    http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/news/Wheelie-bin-set-pushed-house-wall/article-2581647-detail/article.html

    Also, in Scotland they are introducing a minimum price per unit of booze which will probably bring the proles out onto the streets.

    I have phoned home and there are no signs of any sans-culottes in Geneva and there aren't any here in NY but the UK is rife with revolutionary fervour.

  • Comment number 13.

    The leak of the rig is never the story - whilst an environmental catastrophe it's not unusual for corporations (affiliated to any nation) to wreak havoc and destruction in pursuit of their profits (well we've already seen Capitalists claim on this very blog that you have to do what it takes in order to turn a profit)

    The real story is the alingnment of corporate and Government interests. I didn't realise (until after I saw the Hurricane Katrina program recently) that any oil drilling over a certain distance from the shore is exempt from state tax collection. The tax revenue from such drilling goes to central Government and not the people who have to put up with the risks.

    Mussolini described this situation as Fascism - and it's no less true today.

    BP may or may not be at fault - but who is certainly at fault is the US Government who are allowing their states to bear all the risk of drilling without a single penny in benefit.

    I'm sure that the states will be asking for independence again soon if this continues to be the new status quo.

  • Comment number 14.

    How important will be BP's report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which is due to be published in the coming week or so?

    I'm sure folk will run around waving it in joy or horror. Who cares about what BP have got to say? It is an irrelevance, you don't ask an arsonist (suspected of) to investigate their actions, after all.

    What I'll be watching out for is the legal action taken by people like Robert F Kennedy Jnr, an expert lawyer and highly esteemed Professor.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/sex-lies-and-oil-spills_b_564163.html

    I really like the idea of Evo Morales - http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/bolivia-pushes-for-climate-crimes-tribunal-2/

  • Comment number 15.

    6. At 1:51pm on 03 Sep 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    Meanwhile the FTSE and the DOW will shoot up today because the rise in unempoloyment in the states wasn't as bad as expected.

    You couldn't make it up - more jobs lost and the markets think this is a positive sign.

    It's a reflection of how far we've come - when 'not so bad news' is greeted with cheers and ticker tape.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Markets tend to discount bad news and when it turns out to be not so bad, they move accordingly. Not sure it's worth getting too excited until the L-SE FTSE breaks out, in either direction, of the 4900-5400 band. It's been wobbling between those extremes all year.

    It's not just banks going on making money. Last thing brokers want is a static, lacklustre market.

    But getting back to BP. There will be a lot of people who will never believe their report, and probably, never believe a report from the most independent investigator into the incident on the planet. Purely because oil is involved.

  • Comment number 16.

    12. At 2:49pm on 03 Sep 2010, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    "I have phoned home and there are no signs of any sans-culottes in Geneva and there aren't any here in NY but the UK is rife with revolutionary fervour."

    Is that how you assess the state of the world - a few phone calls?
    No wonder you're out of the loop.

    The revolution will not be conducted down the phone - you're wasting your time.

  • Comment number 17.

    #7. Willem wrote:

    "John, I most strongly disagree with the portion of your statement where you say "...so that corners had to be cut"."

    I strongly suspect the the corners that were cut were at the regulatory level. The federal government's regulation did appear to permit non-functional blow-out preventers and other equipment and system so far as I understand things they were well aware of the condition of the equipment - were they not?

  • Comment number 18.

    13. At 2:55pm on 03 Sep 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    I'm sure that the states will be asking for independence again soon if this continues to be the new status quo.
    -----------------------------------------
    The ever larger globalist corporations are Rockin All Over The World.

  • Comment number 19.

    This article was written by someone with over 30 years experience of the oil and gas industry and a good understanding of what makes BP tick. I recommend you all read it and that includes you Robert.

    http://energy.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1840160/

  • Comment number 20.

    I would like to believe that the fault was not with BP, that something went wrong with Halliburton and Transocean's part of the operation, they were on site when this tragedy happened, not BP executives.

    BP have, as far as I can see, acted above the call of duty in shouldering the responsibility (so far) for this disaster.

    It does not help when the American president jumps on the bandwagon 'slinging mud' at BP. Probably all of America now hates BP (British Petroleum) because of what Obama has said, even the American people who have huge investments in the company.

    I would like to see BP cleared of any wrong-doing and congratulated for their efforts, and then for them to pull out of the USA completely.

    (Just so you know, I do not have any shares or involvement with BP apart from being British.)

  • Comment number 21.

    The final point about comparison with other industries is great. Will President Obama close US airspace for 6 months if a plane crashes killing 250 people vs 11 on Deepwater Horizon?

  • Comment number 22.

    How rich is BP?

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 3:46pm on 03 Sep 2010, ruddyfarmer wrote:

    "The final point about comparison with other industries is great. Will President Obama close US airspace for 6 months if a plane crashes killing 250 people vs 11 on Deepwater Horizon?"

    ...except it's not a true comparison, there are thousands of flights every day with a relatively small number of accidents. There isn't the same scale of deep water drill rigs and they have a much worse accident rate.

    Secondly you may have stumbled across the real priority of Government - if a plane crashes it's only people who die - but when an oil rig blows up precious 'profit making' oil is lost.

    The US will always put it's Economy before it's people - surely Hurricane Katrina has taught you that?

    Finally, when a plane crashes - apart from the tragic loss of life (well tragic to humans, not Governments) - it's all cleaned up quite quickly.
    ....the same cannot be said of oil spills - unless you believe the fairytale that it all 'evaporated' in a few days - a real breach of the laws of Chemistry and yet the media lapped it all up like dosy wasps on a summers day.

  • Comment number 24.

    20. At 3:40pm on 03 Sep 2010, jeffcrowe wrote:

    "(Just so you know, I do not have any shares or involvement with BP apart from being British.)"

    Jeff, Don't be fooled by the name, there is nothing British about BP. It avoids taxes just as any other corporation does.

    The only tie to this company we have is if it goes down - so do our pensions - however we also lose out on the upside as they do not contribute as much to our Economy as they extract in profit from UK customers.

  • Comment number 25.

    #19 Wee-Scamp

    Essentially there is a correct way of doing things.
    Once money enters the equation that way goes out of the window.

    Some people understand this.
    Others don't. They hold the purse strings.

    You don't get ahead by doing things right.

  • Comment number 26.

    Robert,

    you are being naive, extremely so, to the point of stereotypical Britishness, fair play and truth will out what what.

    As you point out this event is now mired in the legal machine of the US - as such there seems no better guarantee that the full truth will remain unknown and whatever finally emerges as the truth will be indelibly tainted and open to question.

    In case you had missed it the legal systems in the US and UK are adversarial - i.e. finding the truth is not actually the purpose of the legal process , it is all about winning the case however that is achieved within the letter of the law (sure that concept has cropped up elsewhere which all went horribly wrong too????).

    Why BP are producing a report at all for publication given the legal situation is frankly bizarre - there seems almost no upside to this, it may well be an accurate reflection of BPs side but since the companies who actually did all the work have not contributed to it (surely on counsels advice), it cannot be a full investigation and so at best is a pathetic attempt at the moral high ground.
    However given this is mired in politics the moral high ground only ensures you are silhouetted against the sun for the opponents snipers.

    They tried the moral high ground of accepting liability before and got shot to pieces, why on earth are they incapable of learning their lessons???

  • Comment number 27.

    16. At 3:27pm on 03 Sep 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:

    12. At 2:49pm on 03 Sep 2010, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    "I have phoned home and there are no signs of any sans-culottes in Geneva and there aren't any here in NY but the UK is rife with revolutionary fervour."

    Is that how you assess the state of the world - a few phone calls?
    No wonder you're out of the loop.

    The revolution will not be conducted down the phone - you're wasting your time.


    -Not a few phone calls. Only one. I love the fact that you don't know you're wasting your time. Why don't you daub some graffiti saying "Romans Go Home" on the side of the Houses of Parliament? Or set fire to some bins? Or put up a poster of Che Guevara? Why won't you lead the charge comrade?

    You never rebutted Sam's Chewbacca defence.

  • Comment number 28.

    If i may follow on from point 5

    shouldn't it have been imperative pre spill too.

    I too would like to see an honest appraisal of any Halliburton or Transocean failings, or even for that matter US regulation without hiding under the BP had the project managers role get outs. Having said that the more i read the more the established practice was that responsibility lies with the oil co

  • Comment number 29.

    Sometimes I think there really is not hope for mankind. Judging by many of the comments some posters have no experience and no imagination.

    1. Sometimes an accident happens and it's not really anybody's 'fault'. Accidents happen in the construction industy, I know, I used to work in it. There is an issue of diminishing returns. Let's take a very very simple example. At height you can work from a ladder, or erect a scaffold. If you are working with heavy tools, especially, for instance, a core drill, it's dangerous to do so on a ladder, because it is a great deal more likely that you will overbalance, and you probably have one less hand to hold on with (in fact only a madman would try core drilling on a ladder). But what if you only need to do some quick painting? At maybe only 5 feet from the ground? You can still fall, and if the area isn't clear there will be plenty of things to cause injury, and perhaps death, when you fall. So erect a scaffold for everything. But the process of erecting a scaffold is ITSELF dangerous, and how do you get onto the scaffold? Guess what, via a ladder!! And of course it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom (as the old joke goes). So inflated mats should surround any area where people are working at height.

    There comes a point where money spent on extra safety PROBABLY won't save injury or death, or prevent an accident.

    How much extra are you willing to pay for your house to ensure NOBODY is ever injured in the process of building it?

    Now use you imagination and magnify all that sort of accident prevention work a thousand times, at the bottom of the ocean, drilling into rock where you can't even be sure what the rock formation is or what lies below it. It amazes me there aren't a lot more accidents in deep sea oil drilling. Yet the world and his dog is jumping up and down that it's all the nasty oil companies' fault, as though they never actually think about safety and this accident was very easy to prevent, if BP just hadn't been such nasty evil capitalists. It's childish nonsense to talk like that.

    2. To those posters who are saying that 'capitalism doesn't care' you might like to remember that the world's biggest nuclear accident happened in the Soviet Union, that East Germany was riddled with industrial pollution at unification, and that the submariners on the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk were never rescued. It doesn't look to me as though Communism did any better in the prevention of industrial and other accidents. And spare me the 'oh, that was Stalinism, not real Communism' nonsense.

    Of course 'Communism' or any totalitian system does have one great advantage. It doesn't have to worry about keeping every whinging bleater with a complaint happy. I agree with Churchill, and even then only just.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    28. At 4:30pm on 03 Sep 2010, Kudospeter

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/sex-lies-and-oil-spills_b_564163.html


    Read the huffington post article. You'll see the oil companies were in no way alone - it doesn't just apply to gulf oil, it applies to numerous industries.

  • Comment number 32.

    It needs to be plainly set out that deep drilling is a consequence of the massive energy consumption of the USA. When Obama allowed this in the Gulf I think he failed to realise that the procedures and safety precautions required were nearer those of NASA than the existing oil industry. Drilling deep is just as risky as going into space and the World needs to realise that winning deep oil safely is going to be a very costly business and is so different from finding oil on land that it is almost another industry where expertise so far is limited. However I do think that the Senate Committee who appeared to be trying to bad mouth BP by linking it with Lockerbie were on a Witch hunt that seemed to have the objective of making some extreme action against BP, such as seizure of assets by the Government, to be publicly acceptable, and in my personal opinion this was a piece of dirty politics that brought the Senate into disrepute.
    Oil is becoming scarce. The claimed remaining resources look to be a fantasy and,in my view,what this disaster has highlighted is that the search for oil has become so desperate that the possibility of the sudden failure of availability of supply without warning is very high and this is a far greater risk to the world economy than anything that might happen to BP.

  • Comment number 33.

    29. At 4:58pm on 03 Sep 2010, NetherWallop

    So what has falling off a ladder got to do with destroying an ecosystem and 'Estimated costs of the oil spill to Gulf Coast residents are now upward of $14 billion to gulf state communities..
    Here is the link, just one more time.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/sex-lies-and-oil-spills_b_564163.html

    Yeah, diminishing returns of using the same remote safety valve require in Brazillian oil fields, Norway etc, and used here.
    Yeah, diminishing costs or displaced costs?

    Watch the CNN clip http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/ or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDWJTFsuRT8, where RFK Jnr spells out exactly what the costs are.

    The problem with using just your imagination, is that facts get ignored. Without facts, you are in Peter Pan land, or perhaps dependent on the PR industry for a salary!

  • Comment number 34.

    The real issue is that 11 men have been killed at work. You don't go to work to get killed.

    There is little point in BP trying to hold anything back as a corporate body for the simple reason this will only make matters worse. They are in for a kicking and they might as well enjoy it.

    This is the price of putting work out to third parties: they could just be a group of men in tall hats on horses headed by the usual pack of be-suited smoothies with a PC full of compliance literature.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am a retired offshore engineer who does not pretend to yet know the reasons for the blowout.However I do know that the successful top kill and associated pressure tests could not have happened if most the Waxman initial criticisms had been valid.The Senate committee jumped the gun without waiting for even the basic initial facts to emerge. As a result of this Hayward was forced to resign and the whole BP organisation was put under pressure - which must have been a tremendous burden when they should have been totally focussed on resolving the problem.
    I would hold Obama and his Senate colleagues responsible for several hundred thousands of the oil spill with their vote catching actions.

  • Comment number 36.

    Once the dust, and the oil, settles after this awful "incident" there should be some attempt put the pollution of the G.o.M into context. Terrible as the BP spill has been, it is a one-off event, from which there will be recovery. Oil seepage is a natural, geological feature of the seabed of the G.o.M. Marine organisms have evolved to deal with the long-term diluted consequences. This cannot be said of the ongoing, continuous pollution of inshore waters of the G.o.M. by river outflows carrying millions of tons of chemical pollutants per annum. Such pollutants as agricultural fertilisers and industrial wastes are an insidious threat that the natural environment has not evolved to cope with. If BP can be made responsible for its contribution, then the US authorities should be imposing multi-billion costs on their own land based industries to clean up their acts of eco-vandalism.

  • Comment number 37.

    36. At 6:40pm on 03 Sep 2010, trevst
    Terrible as the BP spill has been, it is a one-off event, from which there will be recovery.

    Niger Delta, the ocean off Timor, Alaska, Peru, the Caspian Sea.... The Caspian Sea had something like 3 million tons of oil leak and burn! That's 3 000 000 tons!

    http://www.gregpalast.com/oil-and-indians-dont-mix/
    http://www.gregpalast.com/smart-pig-bps-other-spill-this-week/
    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/timor-sea-oil-spill-forcing-ntt-fishermen-to-migrate/382331
    http://www.payvand.com/news/10/may/1266.html

    The list is as long as an oil slick. Definitely not a one off! I mean how can anyone forget Exxon Valdez - you didn't have to be a keen watcher of what is going on in the world rather than just the cricket score news to catch that one!

    And recovery? Dead dolphins don't revive. Dead cities don't always revive when their main source of industry goes away. Those gulf towns depend on fishing, tourism. You can't sell poisoned prawns. You can't fish for dead prawns. And you can't hang around for decades hoping for a recovery in the marine life, not when the kids are hungry or you simply need to pay the electricity bill.

  • Comment number 38.

    #37 copperDolomite

    "You can't sell poisoned prawns."

    You just haven't found the right hedge fund.

  • Comment number 39.

    17. At 3:28pm on 03 Sep 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    I strongly suspect the the corners that were cut were at the regulatory level. The federal government's regulation did appear to permit non-functional blow-out preventers and other equipment and system so far as I understand things they were well aware of the condition of the equipment - were they not?

    --------------------------------------

    I agree that corners were cut at the regulatory level, as inspections were essentially non-existent, but regulations absolutely did not permit non-functional blow-out preventers (BOP). Some of the specific problems that I have heard about on this well include:

    1. A BOP with major modifications that were not adequately documented, so the first response of the drilling crew which might have succeeded with a standard BOP had no chance to work with the actual BOP in service (first-level rams replaced with test rams) - can be fixed by a rigorous documentation policy, IMO TransOcean (TO) failure;

    2. A leak in the hydraulic connection to the BOP itself, such that even if the BOP had not been modified it would not have functioned. Had a monitoring/testing system for the hydraulic power system been in place, this failure could have been detected and repaired (it was repaired for the unsuccessful top-kill effort) - can be fixed by a testing/monitoring system, IMO TO failure;

    3. Decision to proceed with temporary plug and abandon (TP&A) procedure despite ambiguous test results from the cementing job - can be fixed by more rigorous testing requirements, IMO BP failure;

    4. Decision to replace drilling mud with seawater in the final stages of the TP&A process - can be fixed by more rigorous operating procedures, IMO BP failure.

    Again in my opinion, none of these were individually fatal errors - in fact there is testimony that the TO personnel did not agree with BP's decision on #4 and accepted it only with the idea that they could rely on the BOP. There are no doubt other factors involved as well, but had both #1 and #2 been corrected or #3 or #4 not been done, this disaster would (again in my opinion only) have been much less likely to occur.

    Had government regulations included inspection and effective function testing of the equipment (BOP), #1 might have been caught. But unless #2 were also caught and resolved, the BOP would still have been useless. A comprehensive recognition the high-risk nature of this drilling (which numerous past successes had numbed) and some procedural changes for all deep-water drilling is our best hope to avoid such future tragedies.

    By the way, I do not work for any firm involved in this disaster (I work on solid ground in western Texas), but I have many friends with BP who have been deeply saddened by these events. The only good likely to come of this will be the renewed appreciation of the risks in deep-water drilling and steps to lessen these risks as much as we can.

  • Comment number 40.

    36. At 6:40pm on 03 Sep 2010, trevst wrote:

    If BP can be made responsible for its contribution, then the US authorities should be imposing multi-billion costs on their own land based industries to clean up their acts of eco-vandalism.

    ----------

    While no one can debate the justice of your statement, the problem with it is that the G.o.M. oil release had a single, identifiable point source. The pollution issues you raise have many, many sources, none of which are so easy to identify and quantify. Should a tax be levied on every pound of fertilizer, since some portion of it ends up in the Mississippi or some other river? If so, how much? And what should be done with the proceeds from any such tax?

    And we'd need to add taxes on pork products, as waste from hog farms is part of the problem. And the industrial pollution - another tax here, right? And let's not kid ourselves - any such taxes will be paid by the consumers, not some abstract 'company'.

    Sorry, BP (which as I recognize is a multinational firm that has 'British' in its name and origin but is not solely a British operation) made a big, easily identified major disaster on one of its projects. Blame may well be shared among several participants to some degree, but the operation was under the BP banner and, baring some very unexpected disclosures, BP will properly bear the brunt of the responsibility.

  • Comment number 41.

    40. At 8:37pm on 03 Sep 2010, Willem

    Yes that's right, tax will be paid by consumers. So, consumers will walk away from environmentally damaging pork producing companies and instead use cheaper, less polluting foods.

    Same with energy, banking and any other industry that relies on externalising their costs to society.

  • Comment number 42.

    38. At 8:00pm on 03 Sep 2010, prudeboy wrote:
    #37 copperDolomite

    "You can't sell poisoned prawns."

    You just haven't found the right hedge fund.


    Didn't look. Gambling isn't something that occurs to me!

  • Comment number 43.

    #31 CopperDolomite thanks, an interesting read. I suspect we are going to get closer to an understanding of the causes from the contributers to this blog than the report itself

  • Comment number 44.

    I expect the party that should carry the greatest burden of guilt, the regulator, is going to get away with it.

    Blame will be given, costs will be claimed and, just like the banking and finance disaster, most of life will go back to how it was.

    The consequence is that safety in the Gulf of Mexico will not improve. Expect more disasters.

    Do you expect Federal Government to admit, even under a different president, to being wrong? Or to concede that they might be able to learn something about safety from northern Europeans?

  • Comment number 45.

    43. At 9:10pm on 03 Sep 2010, Kudospeter wrote:
    #31 CopperDolomite thanks, an interesting read. I suspect we are going to get closer to an understanding of the causes from the contributers to this blog than the report itself


    I think that possibility wasn't 'invisible' to some decision makers when these reporter blogs were created! So watch out for the cuts and the subsequent difficulties in learning, thinking, understanding, and uncovering. It's difficult enough to avoid the nonsense and deliberately whipped up hysterias smoke screens etc, but the BBC needs to do more and do it better, not less and cheap 'n cheerful.

    I know I've learned a lot from the reporters and the comment-makers too.

    This is my news fix for the weekend, though on a different subject (but it almost certainly will touch on similar issues) given it has Scahill on http://fora.tv/2010/06/07/Blueprint_for_Accountability



  • Comment number 46.

    43. At 9:10pm on 03 Sep 2010, Kudospeter wrote:
    #31 CopperDolomite thanks, an interesting read. I suspect we are going to get closer to an understanding of the causes from the contributers to this blog than the report itself

    Agreed. We've got some great contributors. Great links.

  • Comment number 47.

    The oil industry is a throw back to a time of yore, still mainly driven by American regulation and influence. When I first joined the industry in the 70's, experience amongst the drill crew could be measured by their remaining fingers. Never have I seen an industry prepared to accept such high degrees of personal injury or risk in the name of profit.

    Things have changed markedly, but there is still a big difference upon what would be acceptable in the North Sea compared to other cowboy influenced operations. I have worked for BP many times and they have always been one of the better companies safety wise, but there are differences influenced by the local environment and personnel. If BP can do this in the gulf, there are a boat load of others who could do the same or worse.

    Without getting into the details of what actually happened (apart from those sequences would not happen over here), you will get accidents. The preparations and resources BP had in place for such an eventuality is no different to any other company operating in the gulf, with the exception that most would not have come up to BP's response. This is something Obama is now addressing by regulation, but this horse will be long gone by the time he gets that barn door fixed.

    If America had devoted more resources to regulation and control, I really doubt this would have occurred. But the oil lobby in the USA has been very powerful and successful in defending it's interest. It's just when you get something like this happen they all wake up and realise this may not be the best interest for the country as a whole. I have a lot of sympathy for those affected directly by this disaster, but it's a bit late to be crying foul now, when you have had so many previous opportunities to ensure this never happened.

  • Comment number 48.

    One lesson from the debacle is that the catastrophic potential of drilling in deep water is (arguably) only marginally less than what can happen when a plane falls out of the sky or a nuclear power plant goes badly wrong.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Little real long lasting environmental damage appears to have been done. Moaning environmentalists seem happy to make a mountain out of a molehill - and the media seem happy to go along with the environmentalists agenda. With this oil leak most of the Oil soon degraded, with a nuclear disaster the fallout can lost for thousands of years.

  • Comment number 49.

    @NetherWallop - The way I have always expressed it is that "Once in a blue moon everybody drops the sugar bowl when they are handing it across the table".

    You do what you can to prevent these things, but...

    In any case disasters never have one single cause, it is always a series of things which go wrong, any single one of which would have stopped it if it didn't.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    BP’S internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster will have to lay at least some blame on the company - at least for the mistakes made when finishing the oil well, especially in misreading pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent.
    BP officials supposedly checked the Macondo well’s stability on April 20 and decided the well was in good shape. This confirmation cleared the way for riggers to begin replacing drilling fluid in the well. Drill fluid is heavier than oil and natural gas.
    The seawater was too light to prevent natural gas from surging up the pipe to the rig where it exploded killing 11 workers. Thereafter, the damaged well spewed a debated amount of oil into the sea – at least enough for two supertankers.
    Attorneys representing BP have already sought to transfer some of the blame to Transocean and Halliburton (which mixed and poured the cement). Transocean and Halliburton have tried to transfer that blame right back by saying that they had only been following BP’s designs.
    Hung Nguyen, Co-chair of the panel, criticized BP for the convoluted management structure that has made it difficult to know who was responsible for what. Panel member Jason Mathews pointed out that 5 of the 12 BP managers assigned to the $140 million well had been assigned for less than 6 months.
    The US Justice Departmentis also are conducting investigations. Under an agreement brokered with the Obama Administration, BP agreed to set aside $20B to cover claims and damages, though I felt this was a rather paltry sum when compared to the damage that had been done.
    BP intends to announce the findings next week. Scott Dean, a US-based spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the report’s contents. Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Transocean, also declined comment.
    The eight-member Coast Guard-Interior Department has asked BP to turn over a copy of the Bly report asap. The panel has been relying on notes with employees involved in the Macondo well, including Donald Vidrine, the senior manager overseeing the project aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Vidrine, who was one of the managers in charge of interpreting the test data on the well. He has been placed on administrative leave. Other workers also have been put on leave, but no one has been fired.
    Federal offshore drilling regulators are considering tougher safety measires to prevent future accidents. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore drilling, is weighing rules that would set procedures in the event of irregular well tests.
    Do you really mean to tell me that these rules that are being "weighed" do not already exist?

  • Comment number 52.

    @12 Also, in Scotland they are introducing a minimum price per unit of booze which will probably bring the proles out onto the streets.

    Aha - now you reveal your true character! You may sneer, but it is "proles" who are and will be losing their jobs and homes, because of the credit crunch caused by non-proles. People don't understand exactly what's going on, but they know that the media are "economical with the truth", and that they are being shafted. There may not be a revolution, but I confidently predict riots (like the Poll Tax riots) and civil disobedience like the fuel protests. For a number of years there has been an ugly mood simmering under the surface in Britain. People often direct their anger in the wrong direction, but it is there.

    Whilst their former employees lose everything, business leaders continue to be rewarded for failure. They may retire to their country estates in Scotland or wherever, but they are not forgotten. They are hated and despised, as are the new political class, whose privileged education gives them a vocation to boss other people about before they've proved themselves by doing anything genuinely useful.

    I realise I'm slightly flying off at a tangent, but you may wonder why the old political class wasn't equally despised? I believe that the answer is that many of them had seen active service with the "proles" in WWII, or WWI, or in some other way had actually shared the hardships of those they aspired to rule. This was certainly true of leaders such as Edward Heath, Willie Whitelaw, Denis Healey, Tony Benn and Barbara Castle amongst others. Few modern politicians of note are similarly qualified.

  • Comment number 53.

    51. At 10:30pm on 04 Sep 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    Under an agreement brokered with the Obama Administration, BP agreed to set aside $20B to cover claims and damages, though I felt this was a rather paltry sum when compared to the damage that had been done.


    Is that in an Escrow account?

  • Comment number 54.

    copperDolomite:

    The problem with using just your imagination, is that facts get ignored.

    Yes. And you, like so many have already decided who is to blame, when you don't have the facts. Because the BOP isn't on the surface yet.

    Still, let's not stop you deciding who is to blame (nasty BP) and claiming that 'an ecosystem' has been destroyed. Which is hasn't.

    Let's face it, this has been nothing like the disaster you claim. In a few months the pollution will have disappeared, and is already dwarfed by the agricultural pollution that spews out of the mouth of the Mississippi all the time.

    But, you know best. It's a terrible terrible disaster, and it's all BPs fault.

    Give me a reply - tell me what industry you work in, what aspects of safety you are responsible for. And tell me that your business has never has an accident. Or are you just one of those people who loves to point the finger, but never has any responsibility themselves.

  • Comment number 55.

    Back to BP. I have the impression that the use of subcontractors (and sub-subcontractors etc) has increased in all walks of life. In Britain, companies like Amec have a relatively low profile, but perform vital services for all branches of the energy industry.

    In the field of technology, major companies like HP and Canon no longer design and manufacture for themselves as they used to. This real work is subcontracted to companies in China and elsewhere (eg Thailand). The laws of limited liability are exploited to decrease the risks to the high-profile companies at the top of the chain. But it also decreases the expertise inside these companies. Instead of getting technical help you get public relations. Also, of necessity, this kind of structure is bound to increase the ratio of managers to productive employees, and the total proportion of the rewards of the business going to the non-productive.

    All this makes me think of governmental structure in feudal Japan before it collapsed. Over a long period of time, firstly the emperor was usurped by the Shogun, but remained in office if not in power. But then the Shogun also became a figurehead, losing power to the Tairo and other senior officials of the bakufu (administration). In the end, the government became so top-heavy that the ordinary samurai were reduced to being so poor that they had little to lose by revolting. (Though, arguably, in the end they lost the little they had left.)

  • Comment number 56.

    I guess BP are trying to define the argument by getting in there first, however its doubtful it will do them much good with them not being seen as American and not having the lobbying power of the likes of Halliburton (now there's a company with some "interesting" recent history).

    The US wants someone to blame and BP in initially taking responsibility put itself totally in the firing line (while others were notable only in the fact that they kept a low profile).

  • Comment number 57.

    Interestingly just about 2000 or so a couple of designs were produced by small UK tech companies for a seabed based exploration drilling unit. The idea was driven by a need to reduce costs and make exploration drilling systems easier/cheaper to operate which it was hoped would encourage more exploration in all depths of water.

    Although at least two very detailed and succesful engineering feasibility studies were funded both by the old DTI and a couple of major oil companies inc BP neither they never got beyond that stage. This is despite the fact that all the oil companies involved accepted the idea would achieve its aims.

    The reason they gave for not continuing with the projects was that they now believed it was up to the offshore drilling industry to support them.

    This is the offshore drilling industry which had invested hundreds of millions in floating rig systems such as the Deepwater Horizon so the likelihood of it funding a technology that could make all that expensive hardware redundant was never going to happen.

    Interestingly though and of no surprise whatsover to the UK industry the Norwegians are now developing such a system. In fact I think they're now building two designs supported of course by their part state owned oil company Statoil.

    It must be really gratifying to have a company that works so closely with its Govt, its industry and its financial institutions to help develop and grow Norwegian industry.

  • Comment number 58.

    Looking for someone to blame serves mainly for obtaining compensation. Is this just going to be a money trail for the lawyers? And, as I’ve written before, Federal Government will never accept its past failures to set a functional regulatory system and establish sound legal and societal attitudes to safety.

    What would really count would be to learn from this experience and change the system to improve safety in offshore activities (and other areas). If the British were capable of learning from Piper Alpha and making major changes to their whole safety regime, surely the US can learn from Deepwater Horizon.

    Absolute safety doesn’t exist. Accidents happen. We can make them much less likely to happen. I don’t believe Deepwater Horizon would have occurred in Norwegian or UK waters.

  • Comment number 59.

    @57 Wee-Scamp

    I quite agree. This was the intention when Tony Benn (I think it was him as Energy Sectretary) set up the British National Oil Corporation. But of course, Tory ideology was against a public corporation working for the general good, so it was privatised, eventually being gobbled up by BP. I don't blame BP for this - can you blame a wolf for being a wolf? I blame Mrs T and her government.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 60.

    @59 Trying again with the broken url:

    Click Here

  • Comment number 61.

    Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    Back to BP. I have the impression that the use of subcontractors (and sub-subcontractors etc) has increased in all walks of life. In Britain, companies like Amec have a relatively low profile, but perform vital services for all branches of the energy industry.
    ...........................................................................

    The oil industry has always been nigh totally dependent upon contractors. Most of the expertise lies with the contractors rather than the operators. In most US land wells, the client is only at the rig site for expensive or important operations, only coming to the rig should there be problems and getting all his information from the daily rig reports.

    In some cases the contractor will be guiding the client as to the way forward. It's up to the client to understand what the contractors capabilities are, decide and monitor accordingly. It's not rare for the contractor to have a better understanding of what is going on and the consequences.

  • Comment number 62.

    52. At 11:33pm on 04 Sep 2010, Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    “Aha - now you reveal your true character! You may sneer, but it is "proles" who are and will be losing their jobs and homes, because of the credit crunch caused by non-proles. People don't understand exactly what's going on, but they know that the media are "economical with the truth", and that they are being shafted. There may not be a revolution, but I confidently predict riots (like the Poll Tax riots) and civil disobedience like the fuel protests. For a number of years there has been an ugly mood simmering under the surface in Britain. People often direct their anger in the wrong direction, but it is there.”

    Panem et circenses. Keep the proles quiet and revolution is avoided – they are after all happy if they have a job (the miners went on strike to protect their children’s future to work underground in the dark), beer and Sky +. You’ll find they’re more bothered about who will win the X Factor this year than who is in government.

    If there is any hope, then it lies in the proles.
    It doesn’t lie in the proles
    Therefore, there isn’t any hope.

    Bit of modus tollens for you.


  • Comment number 63.

    33, 60, 61....and those contractors did not have a strong lobby with the previous US administration, they were the previous administration.

  • Comment number 64.

    To all the Hendonistas

    I went about Hendon yesterday. No sign of revolution nor of drilling for oil.

    Hendon Central was revolting as usual and Brent Street seemed lost in the parallel universe it has inhabited since they built the flats behind Bell Lane.

    I think that suburbs like that are all over the country: private wealth with public squalor. Even the poshest road in my day, Downage, had a distinct down-at-heel feel to it. Vivian Avenue, once a street of very smart shops, almost feels like Sixties Tyneside close to the junction with Station Road.

    I could not help reflecting if this a pastiche of our general economic predicament. A once prosperous town on the edge of London, with all the relevant communications possessed a very squalid feel.

  • Comment number 65.

    #61 TheRBman

    Subcontractors.

    I can confirm that companies, some really big, continue to subcontract out design and build work. Some of this is highly technical. Way beyond the skill level of those doing the subcontracting.
    Their excuse is that technology changes. It may well do so but the subcontractors, if they are any good, change with it. The out sourcing companies don't. They have lost the plot.

    Behind any big tech company stand myriads of individual doers.
    Very few are employed by the company itself.

    Those myriads know the value of their knowledge and despite the best endeavors of the city and government try to keep it in the UK.

  • Comment number 66.

    Is Robert shorting BP by any chance? I've always thought journalists can throw doubt into the minds of shareholders in a bid to benefit from a bearish market. Investigations and court cases galore happens with any potential serious misconduct but if anyone is prepared to defend themselves, it is BP. Lets look at this another way.

    BP now have the knowledge (knowledge is king) and experience in tackling the most difficult drills in the world, where others are now afraid. You have to be in it to win it, and what doesn't kill us, certainly makes us stronger. BP have the good times ahead

  • Comment number 67.

    @62 Madam - you reply to a point I wasn't making. I wasn't suggesting that "hope lies with the proles".

    However, there much to fear from them when they are disaffected - as many are now, and will be in greater numbers as unemployment increases. (Informally, that's modus ponens for you).

    Britain will be more difficult to govern, and there will be more support for nationalists, Islamic extremists and groups like the BNP. This brave new world might even diminish the quality of life in Hendon.

    As for your contemptible comment "(the miners went on strike to protect their children’s future to work underground in the dark)"; you just reveal your ignorance. I have lived and worked in a mining community - it was exactly that: a community, full of decent people who cared for and supported each other. There was more to them than bread and circuses: there were libraries, bands, choirs etc supported by the unions, the chapels and organisations like the working men's education association. The strike was a doomed attempt to protect the communities and the dignity of the people in them.

    It would certainly be better if no-one had to pay "the price of coal" (or oil for that matter). However, miners in China and elsewhere still do, on a regular basis, in order to provide the energy to make cheap consumer goods for YOU. Can't you smell the blood? Happy dreams!

  • Comment number 68.

    Blatant obfuscation ... move along ...nothing to see here. I would rather BBC economists blog about the imminent calamitous event of the dollar going to the wall and following its zimbabwean namesake.
    We are on the lip of economic armegeddon, US debt can NEVER be paid back, the Japanese will not be able to loan and so prop up the falling US much longer. The criminal cartel known as the Fed is about to embark on the mother of all quantative easing strategy. We are past 'peak oil' the point in modern industrial history where it will not be cost effective to suck out what oil remains. The chinese are approaching power crisis as well as buying up all the copper in the world ..and of course we all live by a financial system that is fundamentally flawed .. and you want to blog about one of the supermajors foul ups ...

    there is a bigger picture Peston.

    Too many trees for you? how far down are you in the editor's food chain?

  • Comment number 69.

    @68 Under certain conditions, Quantitative Easing makes sense when the amount of money (including credit) in an economy does not match its productive capacity. There is a history of QE in America going back to colonial times. Obviously if it goes too far money will become worthless, as in, for example, the Rhode Island case. But in Maryliand, done with more moderation, it was rather successful, (source Galbraith: Money, Whence It Came, Where It Went).

    The US war of independence was paid for by the inflated Continental. In recent times, where there has been hyper inflation it has been due to the productive capacity of a country's economy falling far below the level needed to meet its needs. This was true in Zimbabwe and in post WWI Germany.

    At the moment the US economy has over-capacity, so QE is unlikely to lead to hyper-inflation. I would guess that some of the money "created" will be used to buy back federal debt, so easing the future interest payment burden on the Administration. If QE does cause a fall in the value of the dollar, that will help reduce the US trade deficit by making imports more expensive and US exports cheaper.

    These days when tariff barriers are against international rules, this kind of monetary policy may be the only way to rebalance an economy, not only by fiscal stimulus, but also by a bit of back-door protectionism?

  • Comment number 70.

    #66

    So what you're saying is that now BP have almost destroyed themselves and damaged the entire industry we should let them do it again.

    I don't think so somehow!

  • Comment number 71.

    67. At 5:40pm on 05 Sep 2010, Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    “As for your contemptible comment "(the miners went on strike to protect their children’s future to work underground in the dark)"; you just reveal your ignorance.”

    You just revealed your ignorance. If you are going to accuse someone of being ignorant at least have the common decency to do it correct grammatically.

    I’m glad the mining community has gone, coal is a dirty fuel which cause climate change. Problems caused by the bankers can and will be put right. The pollution caused by the miners (they supplied the drug after all) is potentially irreversible.

    I don’t live in Hendon any more. However, I’m thinking of moving back as I’ve been told that there is no revolution there unlike everywhere else. This can only be a good thing for property prices in Hendon.

  • Comment number 72.

    PS If anyone is interested in economics, but tooking for some light relief, I would strongly recommend Terry Pratchett's excellent and hilarious "Making Money".

    It's actually very thought provoking too. One totally brilliant crackpot idea is "The Glooper", an hydraulic (rather than computer) model of the Discworld economy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_of_the_Discworld#Glooper

    That's it from me for a few days - got an OU deadline to meet. Happy blogging! :-)

  • Comment number 73.

    > How important will be BP's report into the
    > causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster,
    > which is due to be published in the coming week or so?

    It's unimportasnt. The leaks been plugged, and the story's over.

  • Comment number 74.

    BP plans to replace the Blowout Preventer with a new one before proceeding with the final bottom kill procedure. The Blow-Out Preventer has pieces of broken pipe, which may have caused the device to fail.
    There have been accusations of stall tactics against BP because of the potential for another uncontrolled leak.
    Soon after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the US Coast Guard & BP told the public that the Macondo well would be killed via relief wells by mid August. Well, mid August has come and gone. It’s becoming very difficult to find out what’s going on. BP, the Coast Guard and the US Government just seem to keep spinning day-by-day, stalling day-by-day.
    Since capping on July 15th & adding cement in early August, BP seems to have gone into delay strategy. When this so-called “static kill” stopped the uncontrolled flow, BP has said there is no need for the relief well. So how come, Incident Commander, Thad Allen continues to insist that the bottom kill through the relief is still on target?
    Is it possible that persons-in-the-know fear new leaks, or the revelation of current leaks? Thad Allen wasn’t specific about what might cause another uncontrolled leak, but reports of hitting gas pockets were never ruled out. What about the condition of the casing (which still has not been clarified).
    Then there’s those pesky scientisits that are beginning to come forward with evidence. After the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, BP began pumping chemical dispersants into the Gulf waters – over 1.8M gallons. Scientists are raising serious questions about environmental damage - prolonged environmental damage.
    There is concern about negative impacts that the dispersant/crude oil mix will have on both the marine ecosystem as well as human health. This has prompted leading ocean scientists to issue a joint statement that all further dispersants must stop.
    Has BP been trying to hide scientific evidence that could be used against them in litigation?
    Just days after the explosion on the Deepwater rig, a scientist was allegedly approached by BP with a contract to ‘buy’ his silence. The lucrative contract which would prohibit the scientist from publishing his findings was also allegedly offered to scientists at Louisiana State University, Alabama University, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Southern Alabama, and apparently independent researchers.
    Scientists believe the worst impacts of the disaster are yet to come. Full public disclosure of all available data could provide information (and perhaps a plan of action) for what could otherwise be thousands of unexplained cases of disease, cancer, reproductive problems, etc. with both marine life and human life.

  • Comment number 75.

    71. At 7:17pm on 05 Sep 2010, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    I’m glad the mining community has gone, coal is a dirty fuel which cause climate change. Problems caused by the bankers can and will be put right. The pollution caused by the miners (they supplied the drug after all) is potentially irreversible.

    ========================================================================

    Get your own grammar right for a start, in a post where you have criticized someone's grammar. You have, however, won my award for the most ludicrous post of the week, so many congratulations.

  • Comment number 76.

    #75

    This could go on for ever.

    Instead of ", so many congratulations."

    Didn't you mean to write:

    ". So many congratulations."?

  • Comment number 77.

    # 71. At 7:17pm on 05 Sep 2010, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    "I’m glad the mining community has gone, coal is a dirty fuel which cause climate change. Problems caused by the bankers can and will be put right. The pollution caused by the miners (they supplied the drug after all) is potentially irreversible. "

    ----------------

    Coal is seen as dirty, but what of clean coal technology?
    What price to have more of our energy resources under our own control, rather than being dependent on imports from often unstable parts of the world?

    As has been said, communities were entirely dependent on mining; that total dependence, combined with a lack of flexibility in thinking and holding on to the past resulted in desperation.
    The fact is, others couldn't be expected to subsidise pits that couldn't produce at a competitive cost; the all or nothing approach of the NUM probably hastened the demise of British mining, after all who would want to take on a business where any change to try to save it would be likely to be resisted?

  • Comment number 78.

    #76
    Your suggestion ". So many congratulations."? is incorrect because you have punctuated a phrase as if it were a sentence.

    Going back to the main subject 'How guilty is BP?' The answer is, 'it depends who the jury is'. The strange thing is that Obama is trying to blame the oil companies and the regieme of regulation set up by the Republican administration, but if he fails it is the Republicans who will get increased political power. I am under the impression that the Republicans are more pro-oil and less for regulation. The result over the next few years (after a suitable period of talking about higher standards) could be more oil exploration less well regulated.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 71. At 7:17pm on 05 Sep 2010, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    > Problems caused by the bankers can and will be put right.

    Yeah, and pigs might fly. There's absoutely no sign that the problems would be put right by the bankers themselves without our "help".

    That's why we are so harsh on them, and it's why we have to tax them 'til the pips squeak. They have to know who's boss.

  • Comment number 80.

    1. Deep water drilling is extremely risky
    2. BP is the industry leader in deep water drilling
    3. BP takes these risks to make profit from their product
    4. Governments allow them to take these risks to earn money from taxes
    5. Governments held back green technology to protect the oil industry
    6. People DEMAND oil without considering the risk
    7. Governments are elected by the people
    8. People are apathetic and politically negligent

    THIS OIL SPILL, LIKE ALL OIL SPILLS, IS YOUR FAULT!
    QUIT BLEATING AND TAKE AN INTEREST IN WHAT YOUR GOVERNMENT IS DOING!

  • Comment number 81.

    @ Bluesberry

    There is a very good reason why things have gone quiet. I have heard several strong rumours that what the investigation has uncovered is that the blowout preventer failed due to poor maintenance prior to installation. Given that this was the responsibilty of Transocean, not BP, if it is proven all Obama'a BP bashing is going to make him look a bit silly to say the least. Hence why it's all being tidied up 'quietly'.

  • Comment number 82.

    Us Brits should get wiser to reacting and compensating disasters. The Americans seem to have sussed it out a while ago. Anyone remember Bhopal?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/31/india-reopens-bhopal-case

  • Comment number 83.

    @69
    "..
    At the moment the US economy has over-capacity, so QE is unlikely to lead to hyper-inflation. I would guess that some of the money "created" will be used to buy back federal debt, so easing the future interest payment burden on the Administration. If QE does cause a fall in the value of the dollar, that will help reduce the US trade deficit by making imports more expensive and US exports cheaper.
    .."
    I appreciate your enthusiasm but your knowledge of US history and economic policy appears to be a little fractured.. and certainly your perception of the current state of affairs. "Buy back federal debt" you say. Do you really have any comprehension of the debt I am talking about? and do you understand it is growing exponentially at a rate that is impossible to repay? yes I am talking about the hockey stick graph.

    No offence intended but you sound like an economics student and everyone knows you will never get two economists to agree on anything and will gladly sit on the fence and spout off with theory.

  • Comment number 84.

    #70

    Who said anything about letting them do it again? As a nation, and even a race, we learn, we improve, we move on. If every time a mistake was made, the culprit was summoned to the pits of hell never to innovate again, we would still be living in the primitive hut.

  • Comment number 85.

    #81

    While I fully agree that the examination will confirm more than one failure on the part of TransOcean with the BOP (see Points 1 and 2 in #39 above) there are still ample points (3 and 4 for example) that are BP's sole responsibility in this matter. Had the BOP been unmodified and the hydraulic power connected properly, the BOP might have avoided this disaster. But had BP not proceeded despite questionable cementing test results and changed out the drilling mud for sea water, the need for BOP activation might have been avoided.

    Here, the BOP is rather like the parachute a pilot might take into an aircraft - the pilot has absolutely no intent or expectation to use it, but he takes it along 'just in case'. That the BOP may well not have been in proper condition to save the situation when called upon is certainly a failure, but hardly a defense for the creation of the hazard to begin with.

    Like many serious accidents, a through review will likely identify several points where more care and better decisions (often 'better' from hindsight) could have avoided this incident or very greatly reduced the impact. None of the major participants will emerge with a clean report, but I believe BP's copybook will bear the most serious bad marks, and justifiably so. I expect BP's own report to support this conclusion - we shall see Wednesday.

 

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