Monday, June 21, 2010

BP spills coffee; Times reveals 'lapses'

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 4:52 PM

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Yep, the name pretty much says it all: If you haven't seen the "BP Spills Coffee" video by the Upright Citizens Brigade, a New York City comedy group, it's pretty hilarious in that Homer Simpson "It's funny because it's true" way.

Less amusing by far is a disconcerting front-page investigative piece in today's New York Times, which uncovers new findings about what went wrong in the gulf.

Here's an excerpt about lapses in the emergency fail-safe system that employs pincher-like blades to slice through the drill pipe and then seal off the well. It's the last line of defense, unless of course you have another one installed as a backup.

And, as you've no doubt guessed, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig did not.

While no guarantee against disaster, drilling experts said, two blind shear rams give an extra measure of reliability, especially if one shear ram hits on a joint connecting two drill pipes.

“It’s kind of like a parachute — it’s nice to have a backup,” said Dan Albers, a drilling engineer who is part of an independent investigation of the disaster.
But neither Transocean nor BP took steps to outfit the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer with two blind shear rams. In a statement, BP pointed to the need for the rig to carry its blowout preventer from well to well.

BP said space limitations on the Deepwater Horizon would have prohibited the company from adding a second blind shear ram to the existing configuration on the blowout preventer. But other experts told The Times that a second blind shear ram could have been swapped in for some other component.

In a statement, Transocean said BP would have been responsible for deciding whether the blowout preventer was equipped with one or two blind shear rams; BP said both companies would have been involved.

Whatever the reasoning, the result was that the Deepwater Horizon was left with just one blind shear ram to contain a blowout.

Speaking only for myself and Joe Barton, I'd just like to apologize to BP for its critical safety lapses.

Anyway, enjoy the video. (And don't forget to read our cover story, Ten things you need (but don't want) to know about the BP oil spill, in the current Indy.)

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