BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Some Less Technical Issues - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6687.

Storm watch update Friday, 11:30 am from Chuck Watson:

Meteorologists are watching a low pressure system that has formed off the tail end of a front that passed through the Southeastern US (this is the same system that pushed Alex into Mexico). The low has a small chance of forming a tropical storm (the National Hurricane Center says 10%). The bad news is that it looks like it will pass directly over the Gulf coast from east to west, right over the spill area. The winds and embedded thunderstorms will disrupt the booms and make skimming difficult or impossible. The good news is that it looks like a wet system, and offshore winds ahead of the storm may help blow oil offshore and disperse/dilute the oil. We really don't have a good model for how storms interact with a spill of this size, so we will learn a lot from the Gulf's pain. - Chuck

Gail's Post:

It is easy to blame BP for all of the problems relating to the oil spill, and I am sure that at least part of the problem lies with BP. In fact, we are now reading that criminal charges many be placed against BP. But what are some of the other issues?

Clearly one of the issues is the role profitability plays in decision making, given our capitalistic approach to running businesses. When profits are being squeezed, as they were with the drop in oil prices from $147 to half that amount, it is especially easy to cut corners, to keep projects close to profitable. If profitability is a company's number one goal, it can lead to all kinds of bad decisions, no matter what the field. For oil and natural gas, it can mean cutting corners on safety. For health care, it can mean over treatment of those who can pay for it, and under treatment of those who cannot. In the food industry, it can means unhealthy over-processed foods based on cheap ingredients are the primary ones that reach the market.

For almost 30 years, since Ronald Regan became president in 1981, the push has been for smaller government and lower taxes. This has meant closer to unfettered growth of companies seeking profits, with little concern for the long-term benefit to the public. And of course, our other institutions have come to depend on these profits. Without the profits of BP and many other public companies, our pension plans would have no hope of paying out the benefits that they have promised. So there is a real need for continued profits, and in fact growing profits, to make the financial system "work" as it was intended. When these pressures, and the lack of regulation are put together, we have a system that is almost certainly headed for problems. (And not just in the oil and gas industry!)

Minerals Management Service (MMS) was supposed to be regulating BP. But in fact, evidence shows they were doing a pretty poor job of regulation.

One of the issues for regulators is that in a very technical industry like oil and gas drilling, MMS employees really need to have worked recently in the industry, to be up to date on what the technology is. Another issue is that with technology constantly changing, and the types of wells being drilled constantly changing (deeper for example), a very bureaucratic approach to regulation doesn't work very well. Another issue is that government employees tend to be paid much less well than people in high paid industries --for example, oil company geologists and physicians in private practice. This is likely to mean that it is difficult for MMS to attract the best employees, and that there will be a lot of turnover among the employees who are there. According to the WSJ:

Ms. Kendall says the MMS has only 60 inspectors for the Gulf of Mexico region to cover nearly 4,000 facilities. The agency also has trouble recruiting inspectors, according to her prepared remarks, because oil and gas companies pay "considerably" more than the agency. When inspectors can be recruited, she adds, they receive primarily on-the-job training, using guidelines and instructions that "appear to be considerably out of date" and developed between 1984 and 1991.

Ms. Kendall says the agency's regulations governing accident investigations are also sparse, limited to "five brief paragraphs."

BP, and the oil industry in general, very much under-planned for the possibility of a huge spill hitting land. But this lack of planning seems to have been encouraged by a mandated approach to analyzing the possibility of oil spills that the MMS (or a contractor) developed. According to the WSJ:

BP Relied on Faulty U.S. Data

BP PLC and other big oil companies based their plans for responding to a big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on U.S. government projections that gave very low odds of oil hitting shore, even in the case of a spill much larger than the current one.

The government models, which oil companies are required to use but have not been updated since 2004, assumed that most of the oil would rapidly evaporate or get broken up by waves or weather. In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank, real life has proven these models, prepared by the Interior Department's Mineral Management Service, wrong.

The model in question is OSRA, an acronym for "oil spill risk analysis." According to the same WSJ article:

That model projected that a spill of oil on the surface in the Mississippi Canyon area, located 68 miles offshore, would have just an 11% chance of making landfall in Plaquemines Parish, La., after 30 days. In reality, Plaquemines, the area hardest hit by the current spill, got its first tar balls 22 days after the explosion.

At least part of the problem is that the MMS is assuming that oil slicks will dissipate within 10 days, because of evaporation and natural weathering. When this assumption is included in models, it means that the chance of oil slicks hitting shore will be very low.

We don't know how such poor models were developed and disseminated. In yesterday's thread, we tried to look a bit at what information is available. Apparently most of the work on the model since 2000 was done by MMS employees, rather than outside contractors. The analyses were presented at International Oil Spill Conferences.

There are a lot of questions remaining to be resolved. I have only been able to touch on a few issues in this thread. It is clear, though, that part of the problems lay outside of BP.

new stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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My thought on the Whale. Place 1 mile of the heavy boom in two layers to each side acompanied by tenders. Little no forward speed and placed for optmium area in stream close as possible to spill site. Eventually you would have a head that would make use of the equipment. Otherwise think syrup on a table and running your finger over it. You get a taste on your finger, but the table is still a mess.

How about squeegee man in a boat? Sorry but I have a point. Underway multi-vessel boom collection sounds dangerous and hard to do. God bless you.

We've seen many pictures of boats dragging boom between and a third boat slurping once oils accumulates.

Seems to be one of their standard ongoing procedures.

Sure, on a more modest scale, attaching two 150' towed booms to A-Whale sounds feasible and might roughly double its efficiency, but only in calm seas. But it's still not going to "clean up the Gulf of Mexico." The lack of critical thinking in media accounts is stupefying. All they can do is repeat claims of the ownership and then wander off into the red tape theme.

Seas are down to 4.5' in the area today; I wonder if the Coast Guard will take the Whale for a test drive. It seems like that much wave action would interfere considerably with the slot collection system.

For those who would like to sustain a discussion of skimming issues, I suggest you post on this thread. Yesterday's thread, now closed, is here:


It is interrupted by a long irrelevant discussion near the top, so do a find on "skim" to find where the discussion resumes. My post further down has links to the previous day's thread.

A Whale is underway at cruising speed and headed apparently for the well site. When it is being tested it will slow to 1-2 knots.

Seacor Washington is still at Port Fourchon, surprising since the Dutch-armed ships are supposed to work in rough seas and conditions today are not particularly bad.

I'll make my daily plea for a journalist to find out how much actual oil these ships are collecting and compare that to the 30,000 bbl/day claimed capacity..

Data mining to infer the size of Macondo. I posted this on today's Drumbeat
Berman tried to deduce the size in a TOD post a few days ago but didn't take the analysis far enough.

If I may, I'd like to ask again for people's observations on Paul Noel's analysis two weeks ago:

If this has already been discussed, could someone please help me find the discussion?

Short answer: BS.

He brings up about every red herring that anyone has fished out of the Gulf, many of which have been addressed on earlier threads.

And some of what he says is just incoherent, like this:

More specifically the sea floor will collapse. The collapse is absolutely certain. The only question is how it will collapse....

I would not want anyone to think that I am projecting this as a certain event. It is a possible event.

Or this:

The temperature at the sea floor is about -4 C. At 2,500 PSI this is equivalent as far as the temperature and pressure effects on matter of about 2,000 C. Oil rising through this depth distills in the saltwater column and this is what has given rise to the plumes.

Thanks for that, Cheryl.
I noticed the contradiction (your first quote) as well and was certainly puzzled by Paul's second statement.

On the other hand, Paul's info on other topics (methane hydrates, the Gulf marine climate, etc) seemed sensible to a novice like myself.
But that is why I wanted observations from you folks at TOD... many of you have scientific & technical training and first-hand experience in industry.

So capitalism is bad, and government regulars are bad, and BP is bad.

I beg to differ.

Capitalism is what creates job, thus prosperity. It is what stimulates innovation and efficiency. Capitalism is the engine for human advancement. Of course it needs to be regulated, both by government and the concerns of its own shareholders. However, government is always the least efficient mechanism to get things done, although often the only mechanism available. Beef up the regulatory muscle, get better folks in positions of regulators oversight, and insist that the companies drilling for oil have adequate plans for spills.

If it is not profitable to drill, they won’t.

Capitalism evolved. Folks like Benjamin Disraeli formed theories about free markets and reductions of impediments to business. Pure capitalism sounds great, but the minute you get two folks together, you have to setup up rules beyond the economic. Otherwise, I pull out a gun and rob you and pretend I never saw you. The problem with going strictly with profits is, who's profits are supreme? Today, BP's attempt at profits has caused great loss to others. Monkeying with free markets is manipulative and costs money. However, it cannot work any other way.

> Pure capitalism sounds great, but... I pull out a gun and rob you

Yes, markets - based on the voluntary exchange of goods - are disrupted when people commit thefts and murders. No one will disagree with you there.

Though, honestly, being mugged by you on the street doesn't sound so bad. It would be better than having 30% of my paycheck be stolen.

>The problem with going strictly with profits is, who's profits are supreme? Today, BP's attempt at profits has caused great loss to others.

BP should be concerned first and foremost with BP's profits. But they may find it unprofitable to commit the civil wrongs of dumping toxic waste all over other people's property.

Perhaps, great counter. Are you one of those original Doctors of Philosophy in Philosophy? But you can argue that this goes on all the time and folks get away with it. It seems logical that this is the pattern of market corruption that BP followed. It was not a path where they knew the well would blow, but thought they could still profit overall. It was a path of, I will corrupt the system, because in the past the free market auditors allowed me to and thus I maximize profits.

Capitalism might create jobs, but it doesn't care to pay living wages. Certainly not US living wages. Imported workers and exported jobs — wage arbitrage — is one of the injuries deregulated Capitalism has inflicted on the US for the past 30 years.

Hell, slavery is the ultimate capitalist use of manpower (what Capitalist wouldn’t want to own its human resources?), and it created jobs, too. When slavery was off the table, child labor took its place. While child labor may be verboten in the US nowadays, don’t think that an 8 year old had nothing to do with the shoes and shirt you’re wearing.

Unchecked capitalism is unchecked greed.

guess you have never started a business Pete. I have started a number of them. I treated employees better then myself sometimes.

Capitalism is the method of channelling human creativity in the economic sphere.

Anyway, this discussion is slightly OT, so no more from me (I know, I started it!).

Hi Bob, Your statements leaves me with a lot of questions. Why would you treat employees better then yourself? Is that how Capitalism works in your mind? How did you treat your employees better? Did you pay them more than yourself? Did you clean the bathroom so they didn't have too? Just why were you such a giving guy? Why do you assume others never started a business and do you think you are more educated because you have started a number of them? Why have you started so many? Why not just one? Why would you start the discussion with large open statements and quit? Is this why you have started many business? But here is the question I wish you would really come back and answer. In your world of capitalism, do you think it is standard pratice for CEO's of companies to treat thier employees better than themself? And if not, why did you make such a statement?

Just wondering,

perhaps you should read the context of my comment: the previous post which indicated that capitalism is akin to slavery.

I, like many many start-up ventures, made sure the employees were paid first. That is just basic 'how to start a business' 101.

I am defending capitalism as the best economic structure around. Perfect? Nope. Requiring regulation? Of course. Any civilized society requires rule of law.

Captialism is an extention of basic human freedom.

The idea of a singularly free person is myth. People are social animals. You’d die without the group, and membership the group has rules. Always has, always will.

So if I understand you correctly, you are proud of yourself because you made an agreement with people to be your employees and that you payed them while you where at risk of failure of your business. That's what you consitor treating your employees better than yourself. I'm sorry but that doesn't cut it for me.

One more question. If "capitalism is akin to slavery" why are you defending it and not trying to direct your energy to making a better system? Why not move forward?

you don't understand me correctly.

Cookie can't spell either.

Down, I'm not surprised you're down to your last cookie with your attitude. I'll talk about my experience. I worked for a major corporation and regularly put in 80 hour weeks over 4+ years. At no time did my management REQUIRE this of me, I was simply a very hard worker with a lot that I wanted to accomplish. I did not make one penny of overtime being an "exempt" employee. Then I quit and formed my own corporation, because I figured if I was going to work this hard I may as well work for myself. I had about 20 employees eventually, EVERY one of them made more than me because I drew NO salary for the entire first year plus invested a substantial portion of my net worth. Not ONE employee worked 1/2 as hard as I did, I had several who took "sick" leave when they were perfectly healthy to go skiing and when one of my customers saw them on the slopes and sent me pictures (he actually thought is was a company outing) the employees were COMPLETELY ambivalent about lying to me. I didn't fire them, didn't do anything at all, just told them I was disappointed, which I was. They would be right up your alley I suppose Down.

After I'd built up the company (by then I was only drawing about $40K per year, most of my employees made much more) and sold it, I did in fact become a millionaire. I did in fact earn every penny. All of those same employees who couldn't be bothered to regularly come into work received generous stock options and every one of them made at least $100K from it, some more. However that STILL didn't stop one of the "skiers" from getting in my face saying he should have gotten more. I asked him how much overtime he worked (none), how many nights he'd stayed up worrying about the company (zero), whether he'd really put is all into doing his job (never), whether he'd looked around for things that needed doing even if they weren't his responsibility and taken care of them anyway (fat chance). He readily admitted that he had done none of the above but STILL believed he DESERVED more money, because. His quote was incredibly reminiscent of Obama's on the campaign trail, "Why don't you just share the wealth?". He sacrificed nothing, gambled nothing and still was lucky to be a part of something successful, but demanded more, just because. He was right up your alley Downer, you both belong with the Bolsheviks. BTW, if you wonder why communism doesn't work, that's easy. There is no point in working your A$$ off or taking risks if any rewards you receive are to be shared and shared alike. Might as well coast as much as possible and wait for some other fool to work HIS butt off so you can just take the rewards.

WidelyRed, First of all, DownToTheLastCookie refers to the world energy crisis, not me thank you. Second, I'm sorry to hear that it took you 4+ year before you figured out that a major corporation had used you as a slave. Third, just because you paid your employees more than you took as a draw doesn't mean you were better to them than yourself. Fourth, if one of your employees was a "skiers" and not adding any benefit to your company by your standards, why was he there? Fifth, if "There is no point in working your A$$ off or taking risks if any rewards you receive are to be shared and shared alike" why did you stay with a major corporation for so long? And sixth, I can assure you I would never work for you and you will never have that "skiers" problem from me.

Peace and I'm glad you have become so successful in life.

Quote: "And sixth, I can assure you I would never work for you" is a fact. I wouldn't hire you. As for your first points, you've proven every opinion I had about you from the beginning. You're lazy, you're opinionated and you're a Bolshevik. As a matter of fact, I CHOSE to work hard for that company and for myself, something you cannot comprehend. It is a lesson you will never learn, the idea of doing MORE than is required is alien to your selfish mindset. You bemoan corporations for their greed mentality when you exhibit the EXACT SAME THING in your every post. You are an all about ME person, instead of an all about US team player. That's why I'd never have you working for me.

The "skier" took several of the staff with him, they all called in sick and it was a pain. On the other hand, he WAS good at building camaraderie and coworkers liked him. My ultimate problem with him I described, he was like you, jealous, lazy and felt he "deserved" more than he got. He was productive, but not one ounce more than was required.

Long before the "Survivor" series, there was another show on cable with a similar theme. They took random people and put them in a situation where they had to live like frontier folk for an entire year. I can't remember the name of it, but was struck by observing that the wealthiest person by far on the show, also was the hardest worker and most successful as a "frontiersman". Right up until the last day of the shoot, even though he knew he was leaving he continued to make improvements to the log cabin and the fields he had made. This is what the anti-business, anti-corporatists don't understand, there are ALWAYS people who are going to succeed by dint of hard work, determination and smarts. I'm not talking about wealthy people who inherited everything like Robert Kennedy Jr. He means nothing to me, he earned nothing and would have lost what he had if Grandpa Joe hadn't done such an excellent job of establishing family trusts to take care of his progeny. This website has an Arabic saying at the top that goes something like this, "My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flies a jet, his son will ride a camel". The Chinese have a similar saying to the effect that wealth is gone in 3 generations. Only lawyers and rock solid trusts keep that from happening today, but the entrepreneurial spirit isn't inherited as far as I can see.

WidelyRed, I am a lawyer as was another commenter. I have been in business for myself for thirty years. Personally, I think everyone of us should be in business for ourselves and that none of us should be employees.

And if that were the case, business would soon learn that they can not grow without employees, even "bad" employees.

For most of my legal career I had no employees. None. Not even secretarial help for most of my career. For most of my career, I did everything myself and what I couldn't do myself I joint ventured with other lawyers.

So I can tell you it is a hard row when you do everything by yourself. You may think that you were responsible for the success of your business. But you really were not. Your business would not have been worth jack if your employees had not built it.

Imagine what your business would have been worth, if when you sold it, it was only you and what you had done.

If your employees got about $100,000 in stock when the business was sold and you worked twice as hard as they did, you should have got $200,000 and perhaps something for deferring salary. But not a million bucks. You didn't earn it.

That is what is wrong with capitalism today. People like you think they really deserve far more than the people who made them what they are.

I think you are so right, " I think everyone of us should be in business for ourselves and that none of us should be employees". I see that trend now in our national labs using all contract employees. The sad part is most have no access to health care, considering the cost of competition lowering wages.
You as others have some very interesting ideas on future employment. This evolution takes employment back in time when most of us worked in agriculture?
That explains why we will return to ag as main employment when oil production falls even further. Remember the last 10% is worth more than the previous 90%!

Perhaps, WidelyRed, if you created an employee stock ownership plan so that your employees might have benefited on the upside, you might have gotten a greater commitment from them. Why should they have "worked their butts off" to increase the rewards that only YOU received from the sale of YOUR business?

I know you think you were a really nice guy to your employees, but I wonder what your employees actually thought of you... Did you pay them more than market for their services, or did you make sure you got away with paying them the lowest salary you could possibly get away with?

I've started two businesses (well, law firms, actually) and I likely (depending on the full story) would have fired an employee who called in "sick" to go skiing. But that's just me. (By the way, I paid my employees a bonus on one of the matters for which my firm was successful. Did you ever think of doing that??)

There is no point in working your A$$ off or taking risks if any rewards you receive are to be shared and shared alike.



What about so many of the great discoveries in science? Were they not shared?

What about the inventions of Ben Franklin? Franklin refused to patent the lightening rod, despite the urgings of his friends. Think about that one. An invention that most of the world had a need for and he didn't make a dime off it. The same for everything he invented.

Franklin said he made a good living off his printing business and there was no need to profit from inventions meant to help humanity.

Gee since you all three jumped on me I may as well answer all in the same post.

First I'm not convinced I EVER need to take advice on running ANYTHING from lawyers, although I must admit, lawyers did a FINE job telling ENRON how to run things (with everyone who went to jail after ENRON's collapse, why were none of their law firms indicted?). I have a low opinion of lawyers and it is well deserved. As I've said before 99% of them give the rest a bad name. I'm sure you're all going to tell me how EVERY dollar you earned was somehow on pro-bono work and you NEVER defended a single guilty party. Poppycock.

I am further certain that both you lawyers would have had NO problem sharing your earnings 50-50 with for instance a secretary with a high school diploma. I mean all those years you spent working your A$$ off in law school was just for fun anyhow, it didn't actually CONTRIBUTE to your ability to charge $250/hr now did it? Whoops!

gmf, I can tell you for a fact that I contributed immensely to the IETF, and in fact things you and EVERYONE on this site are using right now are a direct result of the UNCOMPENSATED work I did. I could have (and perhaps should have as far as shareholder value creation is concerned) patented any number of business inventions that I personally came up with, not my employees but ME. I can tell you that several of the things I did went on to become part of billion dollar companies, like AKAMAI and a few others I can't name without losing my anonymity here. I paid well, treated well and was not treated well in return, and since you know NOTHING about me, you have no clue whether I EARNED my payout whatsoever.

zelDUH, how do you think they had options in the FIRST PLACE? I HAD setup an employee stock ownership plan, that was where the $100K (and up, 100K was the bottom) came from. But what about initial contributions? Did a SINGLE employee offer to forgo wages to get more stock, or offer to invest their life's savings into the company? You both are too naive for words, but I'm happy that your vote cancels mine. Like the recent survey just proved, liberals have NO CLUE about economics, what with your pie in the sky thinking and lack of understanding of real world mechanisms.

Nobody get's what they deserve.

For one, who is worth more, a down's syndrome patient or a wheelchair bound genius?

How do you establish their relative worth, and how do you remunerate them according to that worth?

What if an employee is really bad at working but essential for the morale of the other employees?

What of the person who is losing his capabilities after 20+ years of loyal service, but still wants or needs to work?

How about the nincompoop who dearly wants to get everything right, but...?

Consider a football field, a thousand people, chosen at random from all over the world, gathered at one end of the field. From the other end, it is clear that most are of medium height, with more exceptions visible on the tall side. And even on the tall side, more than 2.3 meters is an exception.
By an extraordinary chance, Bill Gates is in your sample. Now measure revenue, replace height with revenue.
For one, you'll get a much more lively landscape. This does not look like dwarfs at 70 cm and giants at 2m3O, but it has large deep flats with few and high mountains. As a matter of fact, Bill Gates is shooting for the stars, as the other 999 together have less than 0.01% of the 1000 together.

Do not even try to convince me that this is just. It can't be, whatever kind of politics you like to call your own.

Nobody deserves that his dreams for his children become lies. Yet this is a truth that awaits most of us.


re: "Nobody deserves that his dreams for his children become lies. Yet this is a truth that awaits most of us."

This strikes a deep chord. And it's true for humanity with the tragedy of the machines who soon will not have enough to eat, and all the people who already suffer in this way.

I want to find a way to take the essence of those who loved us as best they could and make it real, make it something people can find at every moment - a sense of safety and care.

There must be a way to make it right.

you have 100% of my vote
as to the critical speaking lawyers -- the words are "ipsi dixit": value accordingly...


My first degree is in FINANCE AND BUSINESS ECONOMICS. My first economics instructor was Arthur Laffer, whom you might recall as the architect of Ronald Reagan's monetary policy (Remember the "trickle down theory," "supply side economics," and the "Laffer Curve?" Yeah, him.)

I worked for CitiBank in NYC after business school, then Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles. I worked as a corporate banker for over 7 years (I went to law school at night the last 4 years of my banking career.)

So, yeah, I think I can generally grok economic principles.

BTW - Liberals are smarter than conservatives!

And liberals are still not sure of 'what the meaning of IS is'.

Also dumb as to disposal of/handle semen stained bimbo dresses.

Liberals MIGHT be smarter than greased owl shit but I doubt it.

Tit for Tat you see.

Suggestions for your book shelf: "The Portable Conservative"

Liberalism is a quite recent ideology. This country was founded on what later was termed Conservative beliefs/principles.

Would lawyers and corporations destroy it? Yes. With vim and vigor.
We (my ancestors) left that type world(despots and rulers) and came to this to find independence.

With Obama et.al. we are right back to depots and rulers.

Your post(s) are just so much arrogant piffle, but I did want to make one or two observations:

1. I doubt seriously you started your company without thoughts of possibly selling it one day.

2. You without doubt set up any stock options to leave yourself the vast majority of the profit. Hardly Mother Theresa. (But, then, neither was she.)

3. Anyone who thinks economics is anything more than voodoo (i.e., sociology/psychology dressed up in mathematics) is sadly under-educated on the nature of the beast.



...But what is not widely known is that these now legendary economists... developed their theories by adapting equations from 19th-century physics that eventually became obsolete. ...The theory is based on unscientific assumptions...

The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd—they substituted economic variables for physical ones...

* The market system is a closed circular flow between production and consumption, with no inlets or outlets.
* Natural resources exist in a domain that is separate and distinct from a closed market system, and the economic value of these resources can be determined only by the dynamics that operate within this system.
* The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.
* The external resources of nature are largely inexhaustible, and those that are not can be replaced by other resources or by technologies that minimize the use of the exhaustible resources or that rely on other resources.
* There are no biophysical limits to the growth of market systems.

...this theory can no longer be regarded as useful even in pragmatic or utilitarian terms because it fails to meet what must now be viewed as a fundamental requirement of any economic theory—the extent to which this theory allows economic activities to be coordinated in environmentally responsible ways on a worldwide scale.

You don't know as much as you think you do. And what you do know is sui-genocidal.

Good luck with that.


this makes no sense... what you describe yourself doing is not capitalism...

congrats on your millionare status...

but... why would you keep people on the payroll... so generously compensated... while at the same time so uninterested in the success of the business... while you worked so long and hard...

why it doesn't make sense is... why would you risk your hard work and effort to some others... they could have brought the whole thing crashing down... making all your hard work and effort moot... worse off than your were in corporate employment...

the only comparison i can make is a real estate agent... or entertainment star... who IS the company... hiring on a bunch of support people... that are replaceable commodities...

bill gates worked long after he reached unimaginable wealth... and fought like hell regarding his internet explorer for years in court... it wasn't the money...

paul allen... his original partner left many years prior...

sounds like a personal issue...

this might put me at odds with many on this site, widelyred, but I'm inspired by your story. I know folks who ran successful businesses, and I can think of at least one example who is far and above one of the most ethical, generous people I've had the good fortune to know. Something many of the internet critics probably wouldn't understand.

Myself, I'm not all that successful yet, but I've poured my heart into companies I believed in, and never asked more than a day's pay for a day's work. Some of it was out of love for the people I worked with, some of it was knowing that I was developing skills that I had/have faith will pay off some day somehow. Some of the work was just to pay the rent, but I feel even that has value beyond a paycheck. I've been on the bottom rung of a lot of different fields, and I'm not saying I don't resent some of my former employers, but there's enough of the ones I truly admired and was inspired by to offset the ones who I didn't feel I got a fair shake from.

In any event, thanks for sharing your experience.

They call it a free market because the contribution of the natural economy is free. That only works on the way up, Cap'n. Think about it.

I hope you're hanging in there, Tin. Make your mental and physical health your first priority.

I am about to go see today's wave of death. Please support me and join my site, no ads, no contribution button yet. http://gcn01.com .


Checked your website. Nice.

As to the gulf coast. I spend several months at Kessler AFB in Biloxi back in the run up to the Cold War and Nam, in school there on the APS-20 radar and ancillary systems.

Great time on the beachs and back bay , fishing and enjoying the 'Gold Coast' , as it was called back then.

I have only visited it once since my discharge and with my children in tow. It was spoiled much by the appearance of gambling casinos and fast food. Not like I recall.

But now it appears to be 'totaled out' fer sure.

Best to you and your man. I also dig Apocalypse Now and rerun it ocassionally at home.

While you were growing old enough to watch a movie on it me and my flight crews were living it and the run up to it. My aircraft also did hard duty in Nam flying surveillance and intel missions.

We lost some good men in those days back then. The first aircraft I climbed aboard blew up and burned on the flight apron. 30 minutes later I boarded another for our mission was critical. Later I watched another burn with 24 hands on board as it hit the sea wall on landing. Another lost right landing gear on takeoff and so it went...back in the ye oldense dayse of men who gave their lives for this country and the girls and family back home(in the world).

Down the road I am going to pick up a set of cultivators for my IH 140 from an ex-marine. To this day those Nam vets still wear their proud 'colors' of that war and we share memories aplenty when meeting. Marines NEVER forget. As a naval aviator I never forget either. When men next to you die for home and country you simply never forget.

Semper Fi


As a small business owner, and as a person who has worked for many other companies (big and small) over the years, I both understand and applaud your ethics. Too many people start companies without a clue of what it takes to make a company work: IT HAS TO MAKE MONEY! Without a reasonable plan you would have never been able to pay your employees regularly and even with that, cash flow and unexpected events make it tough to keep in the black.
Anybody I know who ever started a business because they wanted to be altruistic is either in deep debt or is out of business.

Hello Greateful,

I find your statements hard to understand. As a business owner you applaud CaptBob on his ethics of paying his employees because it's "business 101". When it fact, it's the law that he must pay his employees. I think "business 101" should be "IT HAS TO MAKE MONEY!". Let's not set the standard of todays small business owners to low.

In addition, CaptBob's statement about treating his employees better than himself doesn't exactly agree with your statement about "Anybody I know who ever stared a business because they wanted to be altruistic is either in deep debt or out of business".

Hey Cookie, sounds like you need to move down to Cuba. You will probably find out the grass is not greener. Otherwise, if you like it, stay down there.

And the price of tea in China is how much today? Do you care to explain. Last I knew, this is America with 300 million different opionons. Do you hope to live here by yourself?

I can't speak for Cap'n Bob, but I know at least one person who lists her occupation as "Philanthropist" who I would consider highly successful in reaching her goals, much to the benefit of some extremely grateful people.

I was a business owner (now semi-retired and working on a consultant basis). I employed a small number of people directly and many indirectly in a professional services capacity (FWIW, I sold my business for a healthy sum of money). While I am entrepreneurial, my be all and end all has never been money for the sake of money, as is implied by the term "capitalist." I don’t subscribe to the "greed is good," Randian philosophy. I understand that the law mandates compensation in this country, and that businesses have ignored the laws, found work-arounds (such as the move from employee to contractor status, or placing someone in a "management" position that cannot be classified as such under the law), hired illegal workers, and generally (and sometimes due to competitive pressures) enabled the decline in wages over the past 30 years. Offshore child-labor employed by American and multinational corporations is a fact. Capitalism, apparently, has no conscience.

Making a comfortable living and putting something away for the future is good. Raping everything that stands in the way of an unbridled lust for wealth, isn’t.

"Making a comfortable living and putting something away for the future is good. Raping everything that stands in the way of an unbridled lust for wealth, isn’t."

Of course. I think that perhaps we have a difference in semantics. What you are describing is not inherent to capitalism, but greed and preditory instincts can infect any system, even those whose roots are founded in notions of natural law and human liberty.

In my definitions, you are a capitalist, and I do not think you are a preditor in your pursuit of wealth.

Petey and captbob: you are both at least partly right. The group "capitalists" includes many who are honorable and professional, and also some who who are blood-sucking sociopaths; others are basically decent but incompetent. The challenge is to devise a regulatory system that will keep the dumb and evil in reasonable check, without totally stifling the good.

What a delightful surprise - a spirited discussion of the merits and lack thereof of capitalism.

In order for the discussion to be complete, we probably need to look at centralization versus decentralization under whatever overall economic system is operational.

Still - I enjoyed the interchange.

I love how capitalism is used as shorthand for a political system, which is never defined.

Capitalism is a very simple concept: store capital to make efficient gains in economies of scale in manufacturing or services.

Politics is how you handle your communism or capitalism.

Democracy is similarly misused, of course.

We aren't very good at accurately describing things.

Too painful to our collective tribal egos.

Amen to that.

Could also be too painful to our individual tribal egos... : )

Oxford English Dictionary is usually where I start, when using the English language. American Heritage is a distant second. Most Americans seem to quote Merriam Webster, but I'm not sure if I even have one of those.

P.S. born and bred in the U.S., but started reading before I got in to the public education system. Growin' up close enough to get Canadian channels on the T.V., I don't always spell correct American.

I worked for several weeks for a tree removal and triming outfit in N. Carolina a few years ago.

The guy who owned the outfit was from the coast and a southern by birth yet he treated his Mexican employees worse than a slave owner/holder would have. He paid them ridiculously low wages except for me with a CDL demanded $15 /hour and got it but not for long.

I was there long enough to see how hard his employees worked and how he treated them. I was ashamed to acknowledge he was a southern. He was your typical arseh**e owner.

He applied various forms of pressure to them to keep them in line. He demanded total obedience yet did none of the work himself. The men would climb huge pine trees with very little equipment and trim the tops and branches. They worked very hard in the intense heat for long ardous hours.

Don't tell me about the pros and cons of capitalism. This sucks.

I was glad when he suggested I might be a problem with my higher pay. So I left. The men he worked treated me with respect and were prime examples of good men.

I never forgot that experience. I think it happens very often and under our very noses.

As a southern I worked right beside these men carrying and moving huge tree trunks(blocks) and limbs. That is why they respected me. I spoke a tad spanish and that helped too.

I've worked on a couple crews, (in the South, and the Southwest), of hard working, shall we say, folks of dubious immigration status. In my experience, they were treated well. I don't know how their wages compared to mine, but I think they were commensurate with our respective experiences. Some were probably paid higher than me, (deservedly so), and some maybe less. I simply didn't bother to ask.

I remember a hard-working co-worker who used to complain about the slackers on the job. "they're gettin' paid the same as me, and I'm bustin' my @55." My standard response was to not pay attention to them, pay attention to gettin' the job done so we could go home. None of us were gettin' rich doin' the work, and trying to stretch out hours on a thankless job isn't worth as much as the time you could be spending doing something you'd rather be doing.

About the only thing I learned from my high school government teacher was: "spend your time wisely, it is your most valuable resource."

"Unchecked capitalism is unchecked greed."

Checked by what? A incompetent, corrupt, corrupting Government?
You believe the Government which has run up $14 Trillion of deficit, $4 Trillion by this Dem Congress in 3 years alone, while growing Govt spendin 25% has the right to call ANYONE ELSE GREEDY/IRRESPONSIBLE?

You have childish faith in Govt and regulation.
What are the 3 most highly regulated businesses?
Banking/Finance, Health Insurance, Energy/drilling
What 3 industries have been the most problematic, apparently corrupt UNDER THIS DEM CONGRESS? The Same.

Private Industry furnishes us 100% of our prosperity, goods/services, while Govt corrupts everything it touches.
Dems spent $3.8 Trillion last year, yet FAILED to protect American waters/shores; how much more do you want to give them?

It seems to me that when government, corporations, or any human collective gets too big it gets sclerotic.

I would point out that a young government gave us the Constitution.

Government built the interstate highway system and indeed maintains much infrastructure that heavier industries are disproportionately hard on.

Government, through DARPA, initiated the internet.

Government provided NASA which spawned many spinoff technologies.

Government created and enforces the patent system which allows entrepreneurs to protect and profit from intellectual technology.

There's the general rule of law stuff.

From my family's small business perspective it sometimes appears that large corporations and government are practically the same. I come from a small ranching family on the Gulf Coast. I grew up playing in and eating from the Gulf. What has happened is a desecration.

"Private Industry furnishes us 100% of our prosperity, goods/services, while Govt corrupts everything it touches."

Talk about "childish" statements.

a good post- with perhaps one exception.

If you had written that government 'provided funding for' instead of 'built', 'created', and 'initiated', then your post would have been perfect.

So would that mean when companies hire employees to build a road that is funded by government, that it's really the employees building the road and the company is just a middle man with their hand in the governments pocket funding the employees? I guess maybe it's a matters of what side of the fence you are standing on

Debt and fiat money have fueled 100% percent of our fake prosperity. You confuse wealth with debt. private industry would wither and die if pulled away from the government teat. This Dem Congress is dealing with the criminality and profligate spending and shameless borrowing of the immediate past administration.

Get this straight: Due to Republican policies over the past 30 years, the banks failed, period. TARP, a.k.a: The bail out, was a Republican deal inherited by the Dems.

I hope we get a Republican Congress in the next term, if only so I can watch the faces of folks like you as they get reamed-out (again).

I don’t support Obama’s or Congress' policies, but I'll be damned if anyone else has proposed a solution, and I'm not dishonest enough to try to lay blame at their doorstep.

we are living the results of Republican policies, in the GoM, as well as in the broader economy.

There were only 8 yrs in the last 40 when Republicans had majorities in the House and Senate and a Republican was President. Most of those years the majority was NOT filibuster proof (60 votes) nor veto proof (75%).

The bailouts (which i hated) were intended to be for only the banks with the worst situations. When Obama got ahold of it he made ALL the banks take money even if they didn't need it and they had to pay in back with interest under specific conditions. Pretty much a shakedown just like they did to BP.

Debt is a serious problem, but over the past few years a lot of personal debt has actually been cleaned up and even less is being taken out. But Government debt has increased exponentially. The debt problem is in Washington DC not in the rest of America.

We need less Government spending on things that don't add value to or protect this nation. The "dependency" system where 40% or more of the population depends on some kind of Government support has got to stop. We won't need to worry about peak oil as we won't be able to afford autos to drive it as our taxes will take all our money assuming we even have work.

First, could you provide some evidence to sustain your contention that it is Democratic party policy which is largely responsible for present economic mess in Washington? I'd though pretty much everyone had agreed it was due to repeal of Glass-Steagal act by the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (three Republican senators) . Repeal act was written and sponsored by Republican senators and passed by majority Republican votes in Republican senates and congress. Agreed it was signed by a Democratic president, but under threat that if he didn't they'd override his veto. The Banking Act of 1933 was a law that established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the United States and introduced banking reforms, some of which were designed to control speculation

Second, "40% or more of the population depends on some kind of Government support" -- Got a reference for that please?

Leng, this link quite clearly shows the causes and the parties involved in the financial meltdown. Clinton is number 3. It was Clinton's (and the Democrats') aggressive enforcement of another democrat's (Carter's) community reinvestment act (CRA) that indirectly and directly led to the demise of Fannie and Freddie and the entire economic system. The Republicans (unlike the Democrats today) had NOWHERE near the votes to override a presidential veto at the time and CLinton himself, plus his treasury secretary were highly favorable of the bill.


And here's your requested "evidence" Clinton Democrats are to blame for the credit crunch

The first link you quoted refers to the repeal of the Glass Stegal act in 1999 under Bill Clinton's heading. At that time the Congress was Republican, and the bill repealing it was passed with a veto proof majority.

Another action that is often referred to as a primary cause of the current economic miasma is the relaxation of the reserve requirements for investment banks by the SEC in 2004 under GW Bush. This made immense new amounts of money available for mortgages - and in fact if you look at the subprime issuance rates this is exactly when they exploded. You can relax lending standards but if banks have to maintain capital levels it doesn't matter too much since they have the capital to withstand losses. But relax leverage regulation WITH loose loan requirements you get into trouble.

Just sayin' that the facts you are claiming aren't as simple as you make out.

Maybe he is including all those good ole 'private' employers who make their guaranteed profit on government contracts?

From the big ones like Lockheed, GE, Boeing to the local contractor filling in potholes.

Nice to see someone else mention Glass-Steagal, because so many are sure the problem was CRA.

Neither the Republican or Democratic parties have shown any signs of restraint when plundering the US in favor of their constituents. Democrats enact huge mandates that cause ruinous debt, and Republicans cut taxes to the point where they cause ruinous debt.

The founders screwed up by not including a clause to require a balanced budget in the Constitution. Maybe when the US has to default on its debt we will see this. I hope it happens sooner but I don't think so.

apparently, then, not everyone agrees on the causes, (plural?).

A balanced budget seems like a good goal, moving forward.

unchecked capitalism ceases to be a free market because they would like to make their markets a monopoly. Once they get a monopoly they are not truce capitalists are cease to be competitive and thus innovative and productive.

A free market is a willing seller and a willing buyer and the ability to move freely within that market.

Private Industry did not furnish us with 100% of our prosperity. Where did you come up with such an idea?

Goods, not services, are the basis of any economy. The earth and the sun provide the basic product and human labor turns it into something consumable.

Humans ate, drank, had shelter, provided medical care for each other long before 'private industry' was ever conceived.

Government has been corrupted by industry, not industry corrupted by government.

Banking and Finance had its regulations stripped when they repealed Glass-Stegal.

Yes not 100% but certainly you could make an argument that improvements in life post-industrial revolution were the result of private industry. Before that time mass production didn't exist, people mostly lived on farms and life expectancy was 37 years.

And corruption in government goes back much further than the existence of private industry. If you want examples you can start with Roman history, say perhaps Tacitus.

Life expectancy was 37 yrs prior to the industrial revolution?

Stats like that are terribly misleading mean averages. Doesn't anyone know even their own family histories anymore? People lived to be old! The stats give the impression that everyone died young, but they are skewed by:

1. early childhood illness
2. pregnancy & childbirth deaths
3. accidents & battle

Are you trying to claim that without the IR we would all be dying young?

Money buys power and corruption.

Corruption does go back before IR, but the corruption was the result of the same power structure. The primary industry was agriculture and the land was owned by a few families.

The concentration of wealth always leads to the corruption of any form of government.

As Henry VII was once advised...You must be at least twice as rich as your richest subject to hold power.

Doesn't anyone know even their own family histories anymore? People lived to be old!

SOME people lived to be old. Lots didn't. Averages are just that, averages. As for my family history two of my grandparents didn't make it to age 45. They passed away before I was born. For people born in the early part of this century 50 was the expected lifespan.

Are you trying to claim that without the IR we would all be dying young?

Don't be ridiculous. I claimed no such thing. And as far as accidents and battle, didn't we have some pretty horrific wars in the 20th century? Genocides on a vast scale too. And isn't one of the benefits of this day and age vastly improved trauma care?

The facts are that modern industry provides safe drinking water, vaccinations and far superior medical care at all stages of life. That is why in the industrial world we now have twice or more the average life span of our forebears. Yes some people used to live to old age in past. But now, if you look at the numbers your odds of living to that age are TWICE what they used to be pre-IR.

The concentration of wealth always leads to the corruption of any form of government.

Ah, but you don't have to have a concentration of wealth to get governmental corruption. In fact it is in the corrupt governments that you find creation of concentrations of wealth in the hands of the people running the government regardless of the state of the economy outside the government. And it is also the fact that some of the least corrupt governments in human history are some of the ones we have today, despite out vast wealth (in historical terms).

You need a new synthesis. None of the things you claim have any relation to the actual facts at hand.

The concentration of wealth always leads to the corruption of any form of government.

I would certainly think concentrating it in the government would speed up the process, if government corruption was the goal.

amerman said:

"You believe the Government which has run up $14 Trillion of deficit, $4 Trillion by this Dem Congress in 3 years alone, while growing Govt spendin 25% has the right to call ANYONE ELSE GREEDY/IRRESPONSIBLE?"

Query how much of that deficit you blame on Democrats (ha ha ha) is related to OFFENSIVE (rather than defensive) WARS, which - oddly - have only involved oil-rich countries lately. If we simply avoided all wars of aggression like good isolationists, we would save BILLIONS! You "conservatives" crack me up with your "keep the government out of my life" attitudes, but you don't mind war. Oh, and BTW Republicans started the last few - and the most costly - wars.

Then, amerman said:

Banking/Finance, Health Insurance, Energy/drilling
What 3 industries have been the most problematic, apparently corrupt UNDER THIS DEM CONGRESS? The Same.

Only the Affordable Health Care Act, watered down by the GOP (for the insurance lobby) as it is, can be laid squarely at Obama's feet. The Affordable Health Care Act, as currently gutted by the GOP, feebly (thx to the GOP) attempts to: (1) hold insurance companies more accountable to the people who pay them for insurance coverage, (2) lower health care costs for all, (3) guarantee more reasonable health care choices, and (4) enhance the quality of health care for all Americans. But the health insurance industry is currently finding loopholes so that they can avoid all of the above...

You absolutely cannot deny that the two other "problematic industries" for which you blame the Democratic Party were "birthed" by the Republican-controlled Congress during Clinton's second term - and during the Bush Administration.

Republican Senator Phil Gramm (who, BTW, was John McCain's economic adviser & co-chair of his presidential campaign) completely gutted the Glass-Steagall Act by replacing most of its components with the new Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. That is the Act that allowed commercial banks, investment banks, and insurers to merge (which would have violated antitrust laws under Glass-Steagall) and created the "Too Big To Fail" disaster.

And, please, we all know about MMS! The abuses did not start eighteen months ago on January 20, 2009 (Obama's Inauguration Day.)

Only the Affordable Health Care Act, watered down by the GOP (for the insurance lobby) as it is, can be laid squarely at Obama's feet.

Pretty sure we can saddle him with The $787,000,000,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as well. We're not talkin' chump change.

If you think it is anything more than political expediency that republicans claimed it was a bad idea, you're nuts. If it were a republican congress/president, the same or worse would have ensued. Like even more tax cuts for the wealthy, etc.

But, really, re you all so naive that we need to rehash all this crap again? Dems = repubs. Think differently? Get thyself to the loony bin.


I'd say they have some of the same characteristics, the distinguishing one being scale. I've never seen a $787,000,000,000 bill before, but maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention before.

Defense Appropriations bill gets passed through Congress on greased skids every year. 750 billion this year plus supplementals for the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures and the certainty that there will be another 750 billion bill next year and the next. The healthcare provisions bill has been scored by the CBO to reduce the cost of government-funded healthcare over a period of years. The US War Department's year-on-year funding has no such outlook.

Amen brother! I see little difference in either party and expect a new third party to rise from the ashes of this collapsed pretense of a government of the people by the people!

Capitalism promises COMPETATIVE, MARKET WAGES.... As it should
Attempts by Govt or Union extortion to pervert the free market wages have always been a disaster, like other price controls.
Otherwise, why not just setup a $100k minimum wage...

If much more regulation comes out(as we expect) due to this blow out, capitalism will work, even with this added regulation.

In the longterm companies will build bigger and better BOP's, oilfield service companies will sell more services and more money will be made once everything shakes out.

We will be back to normal in the Gulf once commodity prices reach a level that entice exploration companies to drill again.

Short term South Louisiana will be gutted, until this moratorium is over. Companies need to know what to expect and once we know what regulation and rules come out we can start the slow path back to normal.

The invisable hand will trump the iron fist (or something like that.)

Enough of that "Invisible hand" Chicago School of Economics crap, OK? By standards of US Republicans today, Adam Smith was an absolute pinko socialist whatever. Pretty easy to see that no-one ever actually reads him.

Government wage and employment policies created the middle class in the 20th century. If you believe differently, you ignore both history and fact.

Petey, I'm not sure what your trying to say in response to my commnet.

What I'm saying is that capitalism works. It sometimes works in spite of government regulation and sometimes it works with government regulation.

For instance, when oil rigs in the Gulf were pushed into more stingent regulations dealing with waste discharge (NPDES) many saw this as the end of drilling in the gulf. It wasn't!

I remember some companies being created and growing during this very poor time in South Louisiana's oil patch. Companies like Magnum Mud that rented DOT tanks and cutting boxes found a niche created by regulation.

The oil exploration companies eventually got over the new regulations, because the commodity prices and the oil field service industry created new ways to work within the system. We just need to know the rules so we can start to get working again.

I don't beleive that government policies created the middle class of the twenty first century. It may have shaped the middle class to a certain extent ,but America being the beacon of economic freedom caused that middle class to grow. People didn't come to America so they could have minimum wage, they came to join what America pronised due to it's freedom.

Hell if the people that immigrated to America from Europe thought that they were doing so because of governent regulations they could have stayed home and the middle class would have just evolved there, but with all of the regulations they had in Europe it was America that grew it's middle class with a much more rapid pace.

What regulations made the middle class in America come into existance Petey?

"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance." - Murray Rothbard

"Government wage and employment policies created the middle class in the 20th century."

Where's your proof?

Agreed, at the beginning of the 20th century governments and their law-enforcement resources were primarily dedicated to supporting capitalist efforts to keep workers in poverty, eg. strikebreaking collaborations with mine-owners etc. etc. ad nauseum. It was unions which created the middle classes, including unionized government workers. Perhaps that got a little out of balance later in the century, but only because laws allowed unions to restrict membership based on a lot of criteria other than qualification for the work, and also allowed a lot of corruption to infiltrate union management. These "right-to-work" strikebreaking laws will have the working man back in the 18th century again very soon, though. Our grandparents are rolling in their graves.

The problem is propaganda has convinced the majority of Americans that they are among the "wealthy middle class" or soon to be. What a joke.

"The problem is propaganda has convinced the majority of Americans that they are among the "wealthy middle class" or soon to be. What a joke."
You could not be more correct!

But don't forget that the GI Bill, Trust Busting, Social Security etc. also helped grow the middle class!

Then, there's the FDA, EPA, VA, etc., which allowed the middle class to survive.

Read this paper and it will answer a lot of your questions:

Thomas Ferguson & James K. Galbraith, 1998.
"The American Wage Structure 1920-1947,"
9809010, EconWPA.

There is nothing wrong with capitalism, only all the other 'isms' that have grown up around it.

- Financialism; money making money. Financialism levies the tax that all who use money or credit have to pay without exception. Finance creates nothing, adds nothing, makes nothing, builds nothing yet demands 10%.

- Welfare- ism; getting free lunches. We both agree! Both think 'welfare queens'. No, not the dudette in the Cadillac; instead, GM, GE, Martin-Marietta, Caterpillar, Boeing, Bovis Lend- Lease, JP Morgan Chase, Ford, United Air Lines, etc etc etc.

- Libertarianism; which is a poorly disguised version of National Socialism where the ends always justify the means and racialist components are always lurking under the baseboards like cockroaches. The doctrine suggests the strong are free to do as they will without restraint in a fang and claw contest on the floor of the jungle: that honor, gentility and justice are weaknesses to be exploited where- and whenever they appear.

- Anarchism; which is the beatnik's Libertarianism; put it in a dress and it's still another version of Nazism.

- Corporatism; which institutionalizes strong arm robbery by the unreachable; it is a variant on Mafia shakedowns. Add clowns, hamburgers and you have poison ... but who cares? Micky D's make money! Don't get started on the banking 'industry'.

- Monopolism; Adam Smith's bete noir,

Capitalism is ringed around with feudalism where there are kings and other hereditary nobles and a host of serfs to pay homage. Cloaking the serfs in automobiles does not change their nature in fact it is that nature that makes the kings and nobles possible. The wannabe kings look down upon their peers from a proposed high place which is actually the top of a table. They pretend there is something to achieving this height that entitles them to something.

From under the table capitalism appears a very small thing that certain limited usefulness like bandsaw files or paper clips. In its name great crimes have been committed. "It could have been something better!" is the cry of the technologist; best yet to discover a better means of exchange but consentual robbery.

Why yes, that's why minimum wage legislation has lead to the collapse of civilised society in Europe. Over here, it's every man for himself - burning barricades on every street - corpses rotting in the gutter - and the only things of value are ammo and canned goods.

Oh wait! Wrong continent! Tch.

Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy need I say more. European government policies are unsustainable just wait and see how much further Europe devolves along with the States eventually.

It's coming and we are right behind you!

This discussion has more kneejerks than a soccer game.

"Why yes, that's why minimum wage legislation has lead to the collapse of civilised society in Europe. Over here, it's every man for himself - burning barricades on every street - corpses rotting in the gutter - and the only things of value are ammo and canned goods."

Actually, if the minimum wage were set to $1,000,000 per hour, i.e. effectively banning one's ability to otbain work, then you would see blood in the streets. And you will see a huge black market where people obtain work despite the law. Black markets often exist when people are denied freedom - such as the freedom to exchange a certain amount of labor for a certain amount of money.

When minimum wage is set at a lower value - only $10 per hour or so - you don't see blood in the streets, but you see people who are unable to obtain work. Poor people, the elderly, teenagers, and the handicapped are especially hurt. If I can make my employer only $8 revenue per hour, he will hire me at $7 per hour but not at $10. Instead of working for low pay, I may find myself completely unemployable.

Another example: an employer might rather hire 2 unskilled people at $5 instead of 1 skilled person at $10, but with minimum wage in effect the employer will find it cheaper to choose the 1 skilled person at $15 vs. the 2 unskilled people at $10 each. Another job has been destroyed.

And in USA you have a black market with illegal immigrants obtaining jobs below minimum wage. This is a logical consequence of the minimum wage policy.

An employer (except for sheltered workshops and other charitable organizations) will hire exactly as many employees as he needs to do the work, and no more. And he will pay them as little as he can and still hire/keep workers skilled enough to do the work. A minimum wage just puts a lower limit on the race to the bottom.

You mean like what they pay illegals? Perhaps you are talking about the capitalist wages paid in Haiti, Central America, Indonesia?

Are you ready for those competitive market wages here in the US?

free market allso allows wages so low you cant even afford a flat.
but maybe it doesen´t concern you personnaly,

Hell, slavery is the ultimate capitalist use of manpower (what Capitalist wouldn’t want to own its human resources?)

Not sure I agree. Under traditional slavery the master had to buy the slave or, if he was breeding them, incur the cost of feeding and housing the children that were to young to work while getting no labor from them. If a slave died or escaped the master lost that "capital investment".

On the other hand the current situation in low wage countries today offers the capitalist most of the advantages of traditional slavery while allowing them to "externalize" many of the costs the master of old had to pay

Slavery is one taking a financial gain from the fruit of anothers labor, without the consent and/or reward of the one whose labor is being taken? Doesn't that make most tax payers in a welfare state slaves and the recipient the slave master.

Slavery is one taking a financial gain from the fruit of anothers labor, without the consent and/or reward of the one whose labor is being taken? Doesn't that make most tax payers in a welfare state slaves and the recipient the slave master.

If I understand you by "recipient" you mean the state? If so then, accepting your definition of slavery for the purposes of discussion, to the extent that the state has a representative government and / or the tax payers receive a benefit from the taxes they pay the answer would be no. (Really too brief a response, but it is kind of off topic for the thread)

...the ultimate capitalist use of manpower...

The Mechanical Salesman.

Tocqueville wrote in 1835 in the book Democracy in America:
It is true that in Kentucky the planters are not obliged to pay wages to the slaves whom they employ; but they derive small profits from their labor, whilst the wages paid to free workmen would be returned with interest in the value of their services. The free workman is paid, but he does his work quicker than the slave, and rapidity of execution is one of the great elements of economy. The white sells his services, but they are only purchased at the times at which they may be useful; the black can claim no remuneration for his toil, but the expense of his maintenance is perpetual; he must be supported in his old age as well as in the prime of manhood, in his profitless infancy as well as in the productive years of youth. Payment must equally be made in order to obtain the services of either class of men: the free workman receives his wages in money, the slave in education, in food, in care, and in clothing. The money which a master spends in the maintenance of his slaves goes gradually and in detail, so that it is scarcely perceived; the salary of the free workman is paid in a round sum, which appears only to enrich the individual who receives it, but in the end the slave has cost more than the free servant, and his labor is less productive.

The promise of capitalism is to correct mistakes sooner than alternatives. Mistakes are certainly made, however, these mistakes eventually bubble to surface for resolution. The recent financial crisis bubbled to surface without turning off ATM's or causing civil war. The risk of drilling for oil in GOM bubbled to surface in more than a metaphorical sense. Likewise, time will dissolve GOM oil bubbles and decrease risk of drilling because the promise of capitalism will never be capped.

Petey Wheatstraw claimed:

Hell, slavery is the ultimate capitalist use of manpower (what Capitalist wouldn’t want to own its human resources?), and it created jobs, too. When slavery was off the table, child labor took its place.

Capitalism is not anarchy and it is not a system of slavery -- it is a system based on private ownership of all property, with government's function limited to protecting the individual rights of the citizens.

Under capitalism, the government maintains a monopoly on the legal use of physical force (or threat thereof). Thus, no capitalist has the *power* to enslave anyone -- it takes a *law* backed by government force to achieve slavery. That's how it was done in the U.S. during the 19th century.

And note that in America, it was the capitalistic North that eventualy wiped out the slavery in the feudal, agrarian South.

Nor does a capitalist have the power to round up children and force them to work, against their parent's will and without their permission. Doing such a thing is the crime of kidnapping and has been illegal since the inception of America.

In fact, such child labor as existed in the early days of the Industrial Revolution in England, was the result of parents bringing their children to the factories to work -- those factory owners, too, had no power to kidnap and hold children. At that time, the infant mortality rate was awful -- some 50% of all children born were dead by the age of 10 -- often due to simple starvation. So in many cases, parents brought the children to work in the factories because it was the child’s best shot at staying alive.

Capitalism didn’t create child labor -- it inherited it. And in relatively short order, it wiped it out in those countries that practiced it.

And it should be noted that what exists today in America, is most definitely NOT capitalism. What exists today is a "mixed economy", with a few elements of freedom laboring under vast bureaucratic, fascistic controls, rules and regulations.

Apparently you have no knowledge of labor conditions in the US prior to the 1930's. Also, it's interesting that your interpretation of child labor is limited to FORCED child labor - I guess it's OK if the parents bring them along.

It seems to me there are many people who despise the government for it's many obvious failures, yet somehow believe that corporations are benign or even benevolent organizations. It's similar to those who look at Bush and Obama and see polar opposites, when from a look at their actions there are no discernible differences. It's a wonder of marketing and propaganda so at odds with history (recent history at that) and past experience with exactly such systems. In it I see the seeds of the next phase of the regression of the empire. I don't think that it's just a few libertarian nuts on web forums - I think that people are genuinely disgusted with the corruption and ineptitude of government, but they must find something to place their hope and belief in. That they would place their trust in corporations is very sad.

Twilight wrote:

Apparently you have no knowledge of labor conditions in the US prior to the 1930's.

So what are you saying? That prior to the 1930's, it was legal for a capitalist to kidnap children and force them to work in his factory? I'd like to see some proof of that, because as far as I know, kidnapping has always been a crime in the U.S.

You also commented:

It seems to me there are many people who despise the government for it's many obvious failures, yet somehow believe that corporations are benign or even benevolent organizations.

It is largely corporations that manufacture the products on which your life depends on a daily basis -- just as it is largely corporations that make it possible for you to earn the money to purchase those products on which your life depends.

I'd say organizations that make possible the continued survival of hundreds of millions of human beings are pretty darned benign and desirable entities, whatever their imperfections may be.

But we must also note that it would not be possible for those corporations to exist and function without the rule of law -- which is something only government can provide. So to the extent that it sticks to its proper function -- protecting and securing our rights -- government, too, is a crucially needed and valuable thing.

You are deluded.

"it is a system based on private ownership of all property"

Slaves were property.

"Capitalism didn’t create child labor -- it inherited it."

Go to this site, and click on Lewis Hines in the right hand column under photographers (also check out who the site was named for by clicking on 'Shorpy's page'):


here's a direct link to lews Hines' work:


Click on and read the captions of his photos, and tell me what a great place America was prior to the reforms and regulations brought on by the Depression.

Petey Wheatstraw claimed:

Slaves were property.

Irrelevant and non-sequitur. The mere fact that at various points in history, people have been treated as property does not mean that all systems based on private property advocate slavery. Capitalism, in fact, advocates the rights of man, possessed equally by all, with government's function being the protection of man.

You are, of course, free to continue promoting the fantasy that capitalism is based on slavery -- but it remains just that, a fantasy, no matter how many times you repeat it.

You also wrote:

Click on and read the captions of his photos, and tell me what a great place America was prior to the reforms and regulations brought on by the Depression.

Pictures prove nothing.

They don't alter the fact that under capitalism, no capitalist has the legal power to engage in kidnapping to force children into labor.

As for whether or not America was a great place prior to the 1930s, I will let the historic record of millions of people crossing oceans to get here speak for itself.

"If it is not profitable to drill, they won’t."

After the Exxon Valdez, Gulf drillers realized the unlimited liability from a Gulf drilling accident, and began leaving the Gulf.
The then Dem Congress responded by enacting the 1990 Oil Pollution act where the US Govt committed to handling all spill liabilities over $75 million, in order to lure/retain drillers in the Gulf for the Oil royalties, fees, taxes, jobs it wanted.

Yet, when the inevitable spill occurred, this administration reneged on it's legal, moral, and ethical responsibilities, and instead villianized and demonized BP, to divert mob attention from it's own failures.

I prefer to wait until the evidence is in, the investigations complete, the BOP, etc inspected.
Haliburton's cement job failed, TransOcean's crew failed to detect/stop the kickback, TransOcean owned/maintained/operated BOP failed, etc.
This demagogue Pol/MSM created/driven BP lynch mob is disgusting, as is our Govt's evasion of it's legal/moral/ethical responsibilities, and it's demonization and shakedown of BP.

What company can ever trust this Govt for fair treatment and due process after this accident? What company would want to open or expand operations under this administration? How many more jobs will this cost America?

Keep in mind that overwhelmingly here, at least, those with actual experience in the oil & gas business agree that BP's behavior is not that of a victim, it is extremely reckless up to, if not beyond, the point of criminality


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Holding BP Accountable


Kennedy breaks down the twisted logic of BP's deceitful actions and their own calculations about the probability of a BOP failure. Must viewing.

Haven't read this and I will, but I would take whatever RFK, Jr says with a giant dose of skepticism. He is, after all, a big proponent of wind energy. That is, unless the proposed wind farm, Cape Wind in this case, is planned for his sailing grounds out in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts and which, coincidentally, can be seen from the Kennedy family compound. Draw your own conclusions. I have.

That said, I think even less of BP.

Blowout at Union Oil's Platform A

An Oil Slick on the Surface of the Ocean Near Platform A
Source: http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~jeff/sb_69oilspill/69oilspill_articles2.html

The blowout at Union Oil's Platform A occurred in January 1969, and by all accounts, is considered to have been catastrophic in terms of the volume of oil spilled and resulting economic and environmental damage. One local scientist estimated 80,000 barrels of crude oil were released into the Santa Barbara Channel (one barrel contains 42 gallons of oil). The U.S. Coast Guard placed the amount at 100,000 barrels.

The Prelude

By 1947, advances in drilling technology enabled oil companies to drill wells from offshore platforms. In 1953, Congress enacted legislation authorizing Federal leasing of submerged Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lands. In 1966 the first federal OCS lease sale was conducted and consisted of the sale of one lease, number 166. Phillips, Continental, and Cities Service oil companies purchased the lease and installed Platform Hogan in 1967, making it the first platform in federal waters offshore Santa Barbara County. The second federal OCS lease sale was conducted on February 6, 1968. Seventy-two Channel leases were offered for bidding. Union Oil of California (later Unocal) in partnership with Gulf, Mobil, and Texaco purchased lease number 241 in the Dos Cuadras field.

The Blowout

"In September 1968, Union Oil placed Platform A on OCS lease 241. The platform was installed in 188 feet of water 5.8 miles from shore. By January 1969, four wells were drilled and work began on a fifth well. For this well, Union Oil requested the U.S. Geological Survey to waive various well casing requirements. Well casing prevents oil and gas from escaping the well bore and migrating into the surrounding geological formation. Donald Solanas of the U.S. Geological Survey approved the waiver. However;

'On wells as deep as A-21, federal regulations called for a standard minimum of 300 feet of conductor casing -- the first string of protective casing normally set beneath the ocean floor -- and a blowout-prevention device atop it. Similarly, these regulations called for approximately 870 feet of surface casing -- a secondary string set to greater depth and generally installed when exploratory operations suggest the presence of a high-pressure gas-zone. Yet Solanas -- exercising his legitimate statutory discretion -- had authorized Union to drill A-21 without installing any surface casing at all. Moreover, he had permitted Union to run its conductor casing down to only 238 feet beneath the ocean floor.'1

Drilling of the fifth well began on January 14th and continued through the morning of January 28th when drilling was stopped for logging (evaluation) of the well. At 10:45 a.m. the well blew out."


BP's behavior reminds me of Union's behavior in 1969. Malleable government regulations at the expense of the public when risk is understated relative to reward. From what I've read, it looks like BP cut corners to drill the well as cheaply as possible while sidestepping the safety of the operation.

The Santa Barbara Oil Spill was about 80,000 barrels...far smaller than the Gulf Oil Spill, but effects on the environment and businesses have similar themes. I witnessed the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, and know the effects from a personal perspective and was also a petroleum geologist for 15 years.

While BP may have cut corners a bit more than other operators in the Gulf, I question the safety credibility of any operator using blowout preventers with a 55 percent failure rate and oil spill plans which protect the Walrus in Gulf Coast waters.

Dear Amerman:

You simply must be a troll from BP! In an earlier post, you ranted about the high budget deficits that the US must bear. Now, you say:

The then Dem Congress responded by enacting the 1990 Oil Pollution act where the US Govt committed to handling all spill liabilities over $75 million, in order to lure/retain drillers in the Gulf for the Oil royalties, fees, taxes, jobs it wanted.

Yet, when the inevitable spill occurred, this administration reneged on it's legal, moral, and ethical responsibilities, and instead villianized and demonized BP, to divert mob attention from it's own failures.

So, you think it is best that we INCREASE our deficit by paying for BP's failures???

The OPA required oil companies to file a legitimate EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN. We know how honest BP was about its emergency response plan! Since they did not submit an honest-to-goodness emergency response plan, they gotta pay for THEIR "cost-cutting" mistakes; and the people of the United States of America must be made whole. That's how it crumbles, cookie-wise.

BTW - Guess who was the President of the United States during the crafting of the OFA??? (Hint: think "oil.") That's right! George Herbert Walker Bush!

well said

Couldn't have said it any better. A Caveot though, bad regulation almost always comes into play via the government. Hard to avoid, particularly when there is money to be made.

6 mo. moratorium, completely political in nature. Mostly for show. A competant administration could put together an investigation into the associated risks in off-shore drilling, most of which they already know, set new standards where they are needed, place people to monitor the rigs, and allow drilling where standards are met. This could be done in 1 month if they wanted to.

The problem with the DWH was that they didn't follow the existing standard procedures.

"However, government is always the least efficient mechanism to get things done, although often the only mechanism available."

Efficiency is not the only value for how some things need to get done. Initiatives that require consensus and broad based support require the consensus building process inherent in both the legislative, regulatory and open forum discussions necessary to put through big changes. Awkward, sometimes slow, yes, but necessary to make sure that the public has adequate opportunity to know the impact of projects, rules, initiatives that will have big impact on their lives. That is why most regulation requires long comment periods with input from the broad public necessary. That kind of input is not "efficient" but totally necessary.

The private sector uses top down control and a fair amount of secrecy to get things done. Yes, its quite "efficient" and does not require having to spend time letting everyone in on what you are up to. You can cut corners here and there or deprive this department of that thing and no one can say much about it.

Neither of these examples are totally "clean". Obviously there are top down components to government for example in the military and there is some sharing of broad knowledge in the private sector, though there is little obligation to do so.

There is no viable either/or that works in every situation. Government should function with employees who are knowledgeable of the industry that they are regulating but not too cozy with those same affiliations. Dispassionate, competent, principled, oversight. And the oil industry (and others as well), spend a fair amount of time trying to remove the most effective regulators from their roles or sidelining their recommendations. Too many examples of this to even enumerate.

There is an important role for government and the oversimplification and distortion of that role to suit someone's idea that the private sector has the only effective template is wrong on its face. We have a zillion examples of the deregulated or light regulated corporate sector running amok and acting as a black hole on the "efficient" functioning of our economy or financial stability. Do I really have to list some? Oh what the heck: Enron, Financial Crisis (AIG, Lehman Bros, etc), GM, Toyota, BP, Real Estate bubble, many many others. So much for efficiency. It is not "efficient" to blow up the economy or the environment to make a few percent more profit percentages for your share holders. Period.

This comment seems to have been a carryover from the previous iteration of this thread that was engendered by comments I made that were responded to by Rockman and a very rude poster, avonaltendorf, who bizarrely seems to hate Catholics and even more bizarrely thinks I am one.

There are a lot of people on this forum who've not been here for the last several years, thus missed a LOT of discussion. We see that here in the blind allegiance to systems exhibited in this comment thread and zero acknowledgment of the limits we now face. I am not going to waste time trying to review years of discussion, but encourage all of you to consider carefully that you cannot discuss the spill or, for that matter, anything else in isolation. The game has changed.

What we know without doubt:

While capitalism need not inherently be a growth paradigm, in practice, it is because it relies on profit, not equal trade. Also, the inherent failure of capitalism is that capital/resources are held privately, thus no "commons" exists, thus everything, literally is commoditized.

We know now that resource constraints create real limits such that unending growth is, in fact, impossible. (We've known this for a long time, actually, but a large percentage of the population ignores this in favor of the fantasy that technology overcomes limits in all cases.) Any system that requires growth is a failed system awaiting collapse. Period. Time is the only unknown, but collapse is inevitable.

Capitalism, as currently practiced, is dead. What will replace it will be possibly something quite similar, but it will have some changes, such as those resources needed by all will need to be part of The Commons. This in no way means people cannot choose to do business and engage in trade, but the exchange will essentially have to be need-for-need/in-kind vs. profit motivated. That is, there might be a shoemaker, but they'll be exchanging for what they can't make for themselves, and only that which they need.

The room for profit, if there is any, can only be in terms of goods that are made from renewable resources. But even those will reach limits and have to achieve a state of equilibrium in terms of consumption. If this equilibrium is reached via the economic model as currently practiced, we will have exactly what we have now: a tiny very wealthy subclass, a small middle class subclass, and a vast majority of poor.

Here, you have to stop thinking Ameri-/Euro-/OECD-centric to "get" it. The discussion above is one made by people who grew up in a world that has used many times it's "fair" share of resources and that has, in actual, undeniable fact, brought us up against the resource limits we now face. All this talk of profit, capitalism, economics and freedom is so much bull poop and fantasy. Most of the world doesn't get to live in that context precisely because that *is* the context. The rest of the world *is* our slave labor. Full stop.

For any successful continuation of what we consider society over the long term - and choose whatever floats your boat, for we could argue it till we're all in the grave - we must accept resource limits as a condition. That means we look at them differently, distribute them differently. Anything else = bend over and kiss your rear goodbye because any competitive, profit-based, unregulated system will default to growth, thus death. Ask the yeast.

And here we haven't even dealt with climate yet!! It will take a severe regime of restrictions on use and migration to other energy forms to avoid boiling the planet, in essence. unconstrained use of resources, i.e. capitalism as currently practiced, will result in a Terra so changed you won't recognize the human social structures that remain, long-term. Environmental degradation and climate-related instability are already having effects. These will worsen with time; agriculture requires some minimal stability in climate. Given environmental degradation is guaranteed under "free market," unregulated, winner-take-all capitalism, the paradigm was, and is, doomed.

Ah, and what of complexity? Why even bother? If you don't understand the system you were born into is based on a fallacy of unending growth and the superiority of technology over resource limits and environmental health and stability, you'll never accept that complexity has limits and eventually shifts from being the answer to being the problem. If you understand diminishing returns, you you should have no problem understanding this. If you further understand that non-linear systems are inherently unstable and ultimately unpredictable, you are even better off. If you then understand that chaotic systems actually have structure, but that the exact order of events can never be known even as the expected events themselves can be (at least, to an extent), then you should have the full picture. To wit:

We live in a complex system. Parts of that system are non-linear (climate), parts are chaotic (pretty much anything "human.") If we, as a species, continue to essentially run our systems on high octane fuel, something is going to give. A tire is going to blow, a strut will fail, the steering fail... and we hit the wall at 200 mph.

In my opinion, we already have. We are now waiting to see of the roll cage holds and, if it does, whether the fire crew can put out the invisible fire before we are burned to the point of being unable to recover.

So, you can all wrangle the fine points of capitalism and all your other -isms and insult one another as "catholic" or "communist" and pretend it matters. Or, you can wake up to reality and accept one of two things: either, you stay married to your ideology and choose to use it as an excuse to suck up all the resources you can regardless of the effects long-term, or you can accept that the systems we have now are only the systems that we have now, are no the systems we have had, are not inviolate or imbued with any special value beyond what we assign them and that, as with the past, the systems must change for survival.

And, yes, going all Darwin and saying survival of the fittest is the way of the world, so screw everyone else is a defensible position. Not mine, but if it toots your horn, fine. But own that choice and understand that is what you are advocating when you blindly support the systems currently in place. It's suicidal, or, as I say sui-genocidal, but whatcha gonna do? People are people.

What's this got to do with BP and the spill? Responsibility and perspective. This spill is the best opportunity we've had so far to discuss the directions we take in the future because it has brought to the fore resource discussions and the environmental impacts of our use of fossil fuels. These conversations are urgent. They need to be had. But don't be under the illusion we are discussing the world as it has been. We are not. We are discussing what must be. Anything less is so much peeing in the wind.


I hope people read and understand what you said

I suggest neither of us hold our breath. Ideology trumps reality until such time as reality is kicking one in the head. And often, even then.


Thanks, ccpo.

Much better to have written that than to scream with crazed fury while flailing about with a club, from which behavior I've been restraining myself all day.

I have been reading part of the Joint Investigation's proceedings. I testified several years ago as an expert witness in a case (actually against BP) in a civil lawsuit. A very long and painstaking exercise and not one I really want to repeat. However, I was struck at how similar this joint investigation into finding the cause of the blowout was to a lawsuit case. Naturally lawsuits are carried out such that each side are looking for fault in the others case so the court rules in thier favor. I thought this joint investigation was supposed to be a coming together of the factual and expert witnesses to determine the root cause(s) of the blowout and not necessarily to find fault. The factual witnesses with the best information as to what and why certain things were done are not saying any more than they have to(or thier legal council will let them)and are more concerned about saving thier butts. The whole thing seems to me to be a farce with little hope of getting to the facts and enabling us to understand the causes and, more importantly, get to solutions needed to reduce our industry's chances of this happenning again.

Given the litigous nature of American society, I suppose it is too optimistic to think that there could ever be a real fact finding exercise but I would be interested in hearing views from others on finding the cause of the blowout and how to avoid future problems (and get started drilling again).

Deep water drilling doesn't solve any of the problems and won't make much difference in the grand scheme of the peak oil problem. What do we get from deep water drilling? We have the result of this pathological pursuit of the last drop of oil NOW--it is an unmitigated catastrophe unfolding daily, routinely downplayed by the most powerful, deceitful forces on the planet.

Why do you want to "get started drilling again"? Haven't had enough yet? Why don't you want a moratorium on ALL off-shore projects?

We're blowing billions on war. Maybe that money should be going into weatherization, other energy efficiency programs, solar, wind, mass transit, rail, grid upgrade, community gardens???

Take all the money spent on off-shore drilling and insist that it be spent instead on renewable energy projects?

Finally, a reasonable presentation on BP's culpability...


I hope you do not imply forensic endeavors by experts are intentionally misleading in their opinions to favor their clients because to perpetrate a "farce" is difficult, yet possible.
I've seen experts in complex expensive engineering accidents, seemingly create new laws of nature and twisty engineering methodology, or using only part of the available evidence to arrive at favorable opinions for their clients...but that is not an expert's purpose and dangerous practice; the expert should be totally independent -- evaluate facts, arriving at his/her opinion based upon their training, experience, science, analysis, without party bias; the experts for every party must discover and demonstrate errors in analysis and opinion of the opposing experts and show why his/her analysis is correct; the best analysis/opinion should prevail.

With multiple parties (including our government) participating in BP's engineering discovery project, it is extremely difficult for any party to avoid some responsibility for the accident.

Tinfoil guy...that is why I stay out of the way most of the time...make allot of rants and half typed up posts...relize I am a half cocked idiot and don't send...sometimes though absent enough coffee I hit send. Just the thing seems as half cocked as one of my ideas...one thing to skim a 1' layer of oil off the arabian gulf and another open water with 6' swells and ribboned to every direction under the sun...shoot the wake alone on that thing will push 5 times as much oil away from those slots then goi in...by the way making my way to the coffee again...hopefully I will be able to medicate enough not to be dumb enough to press the send button again for three weeks :-)

Aircraft carriers get fuel (for the planes, etc) from a boom while underway. It is not impossible and is routinely done. It is a big deal to steam in formation, in close proximity, and with vessels of disparate tonnage. Do not feel bad about crazy ideas. My first posts are genuine rubber room stuff. Being at Alabama's Ground Zero, I felt a little freaked out when this started. I am still feeling freaked out from time to time. Go ahead and come up with the crazy stuff, just be prepared to laugh at yourself when the pros go through it and we all try to have a good time in the face of this peril, while we 'work' the problem. Good luck and God bless.

I've got a "unsent letters" text file of stuff I've written as comments on this site, that for various reasons I've thought better of sending. (I've already added to it today.)

Reuters, Special Report: Should BP nuke its leaking well?


The risk of failure and the chance that a "nuke" may make the situation much worse are enough to shelve that "option". Besides, I haven't seen anyone address whether a nuclear weapon designed to operate in 5,000+ feet of water even exists. If such a thing has to be developed, I suspect it would take much less time to finish the relief well. This isn't a science fiction movie we are watching.

On the other hand it is the Fourth of July Weekend here in the USA and we do like our fireworks...

Coneheads Fireworks Display

Nuclear devices are finicky things. The physics package, as the important bit is known, would need to be encased in a shell capable of keeping the contents dry. There is no possibility the device would work if the physics package was immersed in water.

Next, the common device used by the US is too big to fit down a hole. Uncased they are about 22" in diameter. (Which is astounding really - when you realise the destructive power contained in a thing that two men can carry.) By the time you had it cased in a suitable pressure vessel you could add a couple more inches.

There are thin weapons - designed to be used in artillery shells. These would fit down hole. However so far as I can see these have been long withdrawn from service. Which leads to a rather important problem. Nuclear weapons have a limited shelf life. The critical issue for artillery weapons is the initiator they use. These have a lifetime of about a year before they decay. Unless the US has been maintaining these weapons it will not have any that can be used. The publicly available information I have seen suggests that they have not. (These weapons were designed for use in a mooted US-Soviet confrontation across Eastern Europe; very much Cold War thinking. They have no useful current purpose.)

Anyway, the most clear problem is that nobody has any real clue if nuking the well would work. The Russian experience isn't translatable (different geology, different well, much shallower) and didn't always work. The risk of failure is the creation of the worst of all possible doomsday scenarios. A huge area of fractured rock above the oil deposit that leaks until the entire thing is depleted. Maybe a thousand times more oil than has so far leaked. Whilst there is some hope that the gulf will recover in a few years to some semblance of its former health, if this happened there would be no question at all - you would destroy all life in the gulf, and you would wipe out every city and community that borders it for a generation. Billions of dollars of damage would not even come close. Try trillions.

Francis - you've concisely outlined the problems with this approach better than any post I've yet seen. Thank you.

They had nukes that fit inside artillery shells but i doubt any are still operational. even the Russians had to drill down to the bottom of the well. So, if you have to do that why risk a nuke.

This analysis is still rather optimistic, in my opinion. It implies that a well-enforced regime of liability and fines would result in rational, appropriately safe behavior from profit-maximizing firms. But corporations don't function as rational entities; they are composed of people who can and do manage to insulate themselves from consequences while reaping rewards, with the result that some corporations act in a rather insane fashion. Tort is not enough.

"One of the issues for regulators is that in a very technical industry like oil and gas drilling, MMS employees really need to have worked recently in the industry, to be up to date on what the technology is."

There has got to be a better way than hiring people who have had time to develop loyality to a corporation.

Many academics are not only up-to-date on drilling procedures, indeed ahead of the curve; MMA should have training courses for its' inspectors and regular notifications from drilling companies of any new technologies.

There are many research organizations government and otherwise that have much to contribute to drilling inspection with the added bonus of further a knowledge base. (as in the Wood's Hole people - knowledge of the ecology of the area).

Strong and complete vetting should be required before ex-company persons are hired. One of the slags against the Dept of Energy is that it is now staffed by ex-company bots that cannot conceive of a corporation doing wrong.

regarding technical capability of regulators, I have this to offer.

Years ago, when the finatical regulation of the industry was in its infancy, regulations were coming out fast and furious, many of which were written so badly as to be incomprehensible, the Company I worked for made an important decision. They decided that we should take a fairly high level USGS(now MMS)engineer, destined to be a Division Manager, put him into our very sophisticated regulatory compliance organization and train him in the industry practices of the time. He was given full access to everything we did, full access to the files, studies, research etc of our company. He was given duties to perform, procedures to write on regulatory compliance, and treated just like any other senior type engineer. He made regular reports back to his originating organization on what he was working on and what he was learning. This was back in the day of introduction of simultaneous operations on platforms and needing an approved plan from MMS to do so. We charged him with drafting our first simultaneous plan, one that he thought could be approved by the MMS.We critiqued his work and eventually he got to present his proposed plan to Management. After a recycle or two it was approved and submitted to MMS. The plan was approved by MMS. This engineer did a very good job. He was not well schooled in our practices when he arrived but was intelligent and learned fast. After his assignment of about a year, he left and we saw he was soon promoted within the MMS in an area different from our operating area.

I offer the above to remind folks that these regulatory people are not idiots and can learn. They can make good, fair regulators. They need training and experience. Who out there is willing to do some of the training instead of complaining?

ExDrllgMgr, I am seriously contemplating a career change if our government has the foresight to to have onsite regulators. The pay has to be right and the job has to be rewarding. I don't know if they would have someone like me, with 17 years of OJT and hundreds of industry related classes under my belt, but no college.

I would give it a shot.

You forget the regulation caused by insurance companies. Insurance companies are all about "improving the risk". Even if they are self insured there is someone in the company that is doing the risk numbers.

OSHA violations for example, are an indication of risk and the costs raise as a result. regardless of the fines.

There has got to be a better way than hiring people who have had time to develop loyality to a corporation.

This is a rather blanket generalization. As many of the posts on TOD from industry pros demonstrate, there are a lot of people with industry experience who could contribute much to regulatory agencies. There is no substitute for practical, real world experience. Not everyone with an industry background is blindly loyal to the industry party line, just as not everyone who is an environmentalist is anti business. I know it is difficult to believe, but many industry people can actually think for themselves!

Many academics are not only up-to-date on drilling procedures, indeed ahead of the curve; MMA should have training courses for its' inspectors and regular notifications from drilling companies of any new technologies.

Not entirely true. Most of the latest developments in drilling come from the service companies, and the technology changes fast. In many cases, by the time it makes it into the academic world, industry has already moved on. Also, many of the best people in academia (with respect to drilling and other petroleum disciplines) have extensive previous industry experience. Training courses are useful and important, but so is actual hands on experience.

There are many research organizations government and otherwise that have much to contribute to drilling inspection with the added bonus of further a knowledge base.

Yes, they have much to contribute, but again so do people who have "been there, done that".


Just my own personal and very biased view of the subject matter: Stop worrying about ex-industry regulators having residual feelings of loyalty for their former corporations. For the most part those feelings didn't exist when they worked for their company. For the vast majority of hands I know in the oil patch THERE IS NO SENSE OF LOYALTY even when they are still on the job. Maybe in the old days 40 years ago. But not now. And the companies have themselves to blame. Over the last 30 years most companies have made it very clear: employees are expendable the second the bottom line dictates it. There have been a scant few who put loyalty to their employees above the bottom line.

A quick poll for all the oil field hands here: How many have gotten the ole "You been a big asset but we don't need you right now. The security guard will walk you out. Good luck." speech? Back when we were kidding about Rockman Inc. putting its consultants on the rigs I said I would assign former employees of that operator to watch over them. Like the old saying: "Payback is a bitch". It was meant to be a joke but like most humor it starts with a kernel of truth.

Regulators can be had, of course. I haven't heard that human nature has changed much so I'll assume bribery still works with some folks. But all things being equal someone with no oil patch connections would be just as susceptible to such influence as anyone else. It all goes back to a problem that all industries and govt operations suffer from IMHO: lack of true accountability. Anyone got a fix for that? I still don't.

For the vast majority of hands I know in the oil patch THERE IS NO SENSE OF LOYALTY even when they are still on the job. Maybe in the old days 40 years ago. But not now. And the companies have themselves to blame. Over the last 30 years most companies have made it very clear: employees are expendable the second the bottom line dictates it.

Spot On!

A quick poll for all the oil field hands here: How many have gotten the ole "You been a big asset but we don't need you right now. The security guard will walk you out. Good luck." speech? ....

Yup....more than once!

AS far as loyalty you are Bang On Rockman. Been walked out a couple of times. We work for ourselves for the most part.I show more loyalty to the customer than the Corp. No one wants to hear the truth a lot of the time, even when its for thier own good. Same Old ways and same old processes. Accountability seems to never be on a equal footing, weather it be safety processes, testing practices, reserve estimates, on and on. Hard to regulate accountability when its tied to the bottom line.

I've never worked in this industry (these days I mostly do formulating chemistry of lubricants and metalworking fluids on a contract basis); I would say that from my industry experience, even if there IS any residual loyalty to a former employer that any inspector used to work for, it is quite likely to express itself in the form of "tough love" that would be designed to fix shortcuts and irresponsible cost-cutting on the part of management, that threatened to destroy the good name of a company the inspector used to work for.

I can't imagine that most current and/or former employees of BP are all that happy at what's happening here...

I like your idea of putting former hands to work regulating the activities of their former corporate employers. I have somehow avoided getting THE SPEECH myself, but learned very early -- back in the 60s -- that there is no loyalty of corporations toward its employees, by simply observing the way people were treated. As a young, newly minted Ph.D., I was on a fast track up the ladder. But within a couple of years of starting work in a major E&P research lab, a colleague who was among the top few experts on oil well cementing, based on 25 years of research for the company, was let go because the company no longer considered it important to work on cementing, preferring instead to rely entirely on service companies. He was in his early 50s and had a couple of kids in high school. Fortunately, after a few months, he was able to find a comparable position in service company lab.

This convinced me that one must always keep in mind that you are in business for yourself, and your relationship with the company must be continually evaluated to make sure accounts are balanced. I also learned that it is dangerous to be too specialized -- when conditions change, your specialty my become superfluous.

The loyalty is to the PEOPLE you work with/for, not the company you work for!

Exactly right Toolpush. I've left my butt exposed a number of times because of my co-workers, but that's what you do. Last job I had I kind of screwed myself because I couldn't leave guys I'd been working with for the past few years holding the bag. It hurt, but I'd do it again in a minute. Those were my people; the company couldn't think or plan its way out of a wet paper sack.

Hiring from industry can be a good thing if it is balanced with other hires. I've wondered if Department of Interior ever hires environmentalists. Should an applicant be automatically excluded from consideration if she worked for Natural Resources Defense Council or Sierra Club? Surely these groups have some skilled people with detailed knowledge of the regs (perhaps better knowledge than testified to by an MMS inspector), for example, and good vision about where regs should head. Lawyers might be the obvious example, I suppose, but do environmental organizations also have people with good technical knowledge?

This quote is from ROCKMAN on the previous thread.

" If the pressure suddenly drops when the RW cuts the WW that would probably be a bad sign: the flow is going up the RW"

ROCK,if the WW is perforated from the outside as one of the other threads discussed, rather than milled or drilled into,you have the option of running a packer. If you run a standard TCP/test tool assembly you have well control in the RW.

This assembly gives you so many more options it's much less of a dynamic situation. You have control of losses or gains,you can close the packer and the bypass,then about it after you perforate.

wildman -- being able to pack off the returns on the RW may be the safest approach. I wish they would let us know more of the plan. Reading between the lines (a poor approach generally) I'm almost willing to guess they are going to nick the well bore annulus first (maybe wash it out some) and then pump from there and see if they can u-tube the kill pill back up thru the csg shoe. If they can get comminucations that seems to be a better approach then perfing the csg. Maybe even pump something into the formation that may lock it up some. Time will tell.

Sounds like a plan. They have to kill the annulus sooner or later; may as well start with it. Simultaneous might be quicker...

We need to also be brave enough to look at the truth regarding how Big Oil (specifically Rockefeller-family oil) has changed "capitalism" in America; and, indeed, our entire economic and political structure along with it. We have not had "capitalism" in the original, laissez-faire sense in this country since roughly the 1890s.

We do NOT have even a tortured resemblance of free market capitalism left in this country now. We have oligarchical monopolism.

Most of our nation's ills can be resolved (over a long, slow, gradualistic period of time) by returning to laissez-faire and the Constitution.

We need to start with real money....Constitutional money. We need to eliminate the Fed and the welfare state. We need to enforce monopoly and anti-trust legislation. We need DRASTIC reform of corporate law.

Had we still had free market capitalism, we'd have a truly representative Congress, and we'd all be living in a clean,alternative-energy world with very low cost energy for all, long since.


That's a fact.


Agree. I would say Capitalism has defeated democracy; it's no wonder how few vote these days, it's futile. Government has been bought and us with it. We're all working in the best interests of the shareholders now. Take a rock and smash your television.

Re: "But corporations don't function as rational entities; they are composed of people who can and do manage to insulate themselves from consequences while reaping rewards, with the result that some corporations act in a rather insane fashion. Tort is not enough."


BP wants to 'appear' it is removing oil, but does not have real incentive to do anything but hide the oil by attempting to sink it with Corexit.

The corruption of the legal system, that our legal system has been 'gamed' by the corporate interests, is a bet that BP is counting on.

People need to get 'active' and once they assemble and start to protest, we have the true birth of a movement to break the historic, accumulated corruption that is now entrenched in our government and legal system.

"Prosecute BP" should be a popular bumper sticker, but it takes people getting angry and protesting in large numbers to shake off the massive corruption endemic to US governance.

Great article. It raises many of the significant issues.

The basic question for me is why the regulation and oversight is poor? While I can't prove it, I would guess that industry involvement in regulation played a large role. There were probably quite a few industry lobbyists arguing that MMS should not get any bigger or better funded. Heck, they may still be making this argument today.

And we've experienced quite a few negative experiences related to regulatory capture. The financial escapades of a couple years ago come to mind...

Our financial system is based on premises that are just plain wrong--that infinite growth can continue in a finite world, but no one seems to have figured out the conflict--college professors, regulators, or bank officials. So having a system of checks and balances, where everyone believes the same thing, really doesn't really work.

I think some of the same kind of thing may happen in the oil and gas industry. Before the blowout, I expect everyone had great faith in the blowout preventers, to the point that people were less concerned about unsafe practices than they should have been. And models are looked at in many fields with great reverence, regardless of whether there is any knowledge that they will fit well with the real world.

So it is very difficult to set up a system where there are truly unbiased checks. Everyone is going to the same conferences, reading the same academic papers, and working with the same service companies, so everyone comes to a similar worldview--which may or may not be right. Hopefully it is not as far off as the financial folks' world view, but it still has "issues".

Gail, I think that your insight is spot on, not only for the oil industry, but almost any organization including government. Groupthink is and has always been a huge problem to overcome. Senior leadership and management typically select people who see the world as they do and mirror their values and ideals. Most folks do not want to hear "nay" sayers or contradictory opinions. Even in reading what seems to be confirmable, undeniable data about reality, people see what they want to see --

Taking it a step further, "normalization of deviance" (there as actually a great book written this," The Challenger Launch Decision", by Dianne Vaughn, a PhD sociologist - Link of review:

The book is truly fascinating reading just about the story of the Challenger accident on its own, and I highly recommend it for the detailed examination of how organizational culture, other environmental and human factors that led to the decision to launch...I am sure that there will be some echoes when we eventually "unpack" the BP GOM accident.

There is absolutely no reason to add inspectors to MMS. 60 for 4000 rigs? Way more than enough to do what they need to do, which is audit the rig operator's records and system. It is the rig operators who must be responsible for safety and risk mitigation, as well as on the hook for damages. And I'm in favor of raising the limit on damages to something more like $1 Billion (which should be more than enough- I wouldn't lift the moratorium until technology (including foreign nationals that this administration delayed using) is proven to be able to achieve that limit.

So what is needed is someone to audit the auditors, and stronger penalties for anyone who falsifies any data- we're talking prison. Technology in the form of additional sensors and video data can also assist assure proper control. I'd take 10 of these 60 auditors and charge them with the task of finding the poor auditors and getting them prosecuted. The 50 others could cover the 4000 rigs with two day inspections of each every six months- and there should be plenty of overlap given common ownership.

Unfortunately this administration decided to appoint a couple environmental lawyers to the top MMS positions instead of people with technical or quality assurance backgrounds.

So what is needed is someone to audit the auditors

Someone who obviously has not read the Dr.Seuss story about the bee-watchers.

Can anyone put a price on the seas? Are there civil penalties for initiating the Apocalypse?

As for blaming Tony Hayward: He will bear the mark of Cain for the rest of his days—and in the end, he may wish he had been imprisoned, for wherever his feet take him, he will be reviled by men.

This has just begun.

This morning's Miami Herald has a photo of a 3 workers in a rowboat skimming oil by hand. All those hay/grass/kitty litter/peat/microbe eating ideas don't look so bad now when compared to 'by hand'.



Since late last night on the CNN feed of BP's well-head there has been video of work ongoing around the BOP and cap of the gusher. Right now large ROVs appear to be working with hydraulic equipment on the well-head.

Does anyone have any idea what BP is attempting to do to their well-head?

Last night there was interminable footage of a handle (on the left-center of the view) with a cord attached; the cord had a bulbous end, like a monkey-fist we used back when I was a deck-ape. This rope bobbed up and down and around with currents. There was also a rope coming in from the right-hand edge of the image, with a loop in it. All I could imagine was that they were trying to get hold of the rope (with the bulb on its end) on the handle by catching it with the loop, presumably to pull on the handle.

After a couple of hours of off-and-on observation, it was getting late and I went to bed. Now there is much more equpiment, all around the well-head. The gusher is barely visible at the top of the image.

There's lots going on, I've not seen any mention of what it is all about.

WTF ??


JR, earlier beagle linked Bob Dudley's hour of answering "civilians'" questions, moderated by Ray Suarez (much thanks, beagle!). Toward the end, Dudley agrees that leaving the ROV views unexplained ain't great, so they're thinking about adding (maybe just for the kill attempt?) "explanation bubbles" or possibly even a voice-over. Me, I might prefer a crawl to bubbles -- in either case, nothing obstructing the video itself -- but really hope they go with the voice-over.

Yu know they will have to get Mike Rowe for the voice over, or Sam Elliot might work as well.

I'm holding out for Rockman. (Had to Google Mike Rowe.)

Actually lotus I would go with Mike too. In my book the guy has the same screen credibility as ole Walter Concrite did.

See, Rockman, if a person gave up on teevy years ago, she doesn't know who Mike Rowe is and has to ask The Google . . .

Wull, I hope they find a well-informed, funny, easy-going engineer who doesn't sound entirely like Dubya.

I'm not an insider, but apparently tools in the ROVs' toolkits, as well as objects they may handle such as sections of hose or pipe, have handles attached so the ROV arms can pick them up more easily. These may be loops of cord or lengths of cord with bobbers attached to float up for easy grabbing. When not in use, these things wave around in the currents in front of the cameras.

Profits are being squeezed? On a relative basis, assuming you believe the accounting, the oil majors didn't seem to have any profit crisis that I noticed. Sure, maybe the share prices dropped, but how reliable have been the assumptions of future profitability in the financial world in the last few years?

The figure of $147 oil is fixed in folklore - at least until it is surpassed either by inflation or depletion - yet no actual oil ever changed hands at that price. As I have stated before, those futures contracts settled in the $120 range as I recall so $147 was just a speculators WAG. I seem to remember some sore losers on that round. $147 oil bets? Yes. $147 oil? Are you sure?

Any oil exec making long term plans and drilling decisions based upon wild fluctuations on the spot market futures shouldn't be an oil exec. The wild fluctuations are merely a sign that the financial players are figuring out what the industry can't help but know, but - like doping in sport - can't openly talk about. $147 had about as much profitability relevance as $38 on the downside. The annual average price hasn't been far off the $65 - 75 range.

If anything hit profits it was the big drop in natgas.

WSJ: Why Is the Gulf Cleanup So Slow?


Destin, Fla.

As the oil spill continues and the cleanup lags, we must begin to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. There does not seem to be much that anyone can do to stop the spill except dig a relief well, not due until August. But the cleanup is a different story. The press and Internet are full of straightforward suggestions for easy ways of improving the cleanup, but the federal government is resisting these remedies.

More: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870342600457533965087729855...

Remember Afghanistan. Didn't 9/11 kick off that party? Talk about time.

Interesting story. US needs to relax some rules, to allow other clean-up boats to work.

"Clearly one of the issues is the role profitability plays in decision making, given our capitalistic approach to running businesses. "

even assuming that the current situation can be described as "capitalistic", the only alternative to market is central planning.

i had the impression that countries where this system is implemented have a very questionable record regarding accidents, pollution and environment, also at the same time having bad results from the economic perspective

i think that is a mistake to ignore the fact that thousands of oil wells have been safely drilled, and that 100% safety can be achieved only in one way: not drilling anything at all.

i dont think any of the actors involved in the macondo well accident have been intentionally skipping safety procedures in order to save a penny or two. an oil rig costs a lot more than any saving that can be done that way.

i dont think any of the actors involved in the macondo well accident have been intentionally skipping safety procedures in order to save a penny or two. an oil rig costs a lot more than any saving that can be done that way

gianmarko, in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the blowout, many decisions presented clear choices between risk and safety. In every case I know of, the selected choice was to increase risk, not increase safety. You might be correct about the motivation, perhaps those choices weren't made to save the corporation "a penny or two." Maybe the decisions makers, both onshore and on the rig, were thinking of how much their bonuses were decreasing for every day's delay.

i think that is a mistake to ignore the fact that thousands of oil wells have been safely drilled, and that 100% safety can be achieved only in one way: not drilling anything at all.

Nobody here ignores thousands of safely drilled wells, which does not negate the idea that we can have more safety than we do.

in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the blowout, many decisions presented clear choices between risk and safety. In every case I know of, the selected choice was to increase risk, not increase safety. You might be correct about the motivation, perhaps those choices weren't made to save the corporation "a penny or two." Maybe the decisions makers, both onshore and on the rig, were thinking of how much their bonuses were decreasing for every day's delay.

Let's put that in perspective: IIRC the Macondo well was around three months behind schedule (we can assume that was a "happy path" schedule with no unforeseen problems - stuck drill strings, etc). And the lease rate on a highly-sophisticated semi-submersible rig, capable of drilling ops at 5000ft, is (also IIRC) maybe $600 - 800k per day. Add to that, the wages, the supplies, the helos flying to and fro to service the rig, and in round figures it's about $1M *per day*

So the project was 3 months - around $90M - over budget. What was the situation of the project manager there? What were his priorities, his business imperatives, the message coming down from his bosses? My educated guess is.... " ****ing fix this now! Get it ****ing completed, and stop spending huge gobs of cash!!! "

I wouldn't like to be that PM (or, I guess, translated into the oil patch, company man). Because the pressure to save time (=save money) must have been seriously intense.

And the only way to fix that sort of problem is to have a published, declared, mandated-at-the-highest-level, saftey culture, where the little guy, working on the rig floor, has the ability to call a halt to proceedings without fear of retribution.

Just my 2 cents, regards Chris

Valid point Chris. I would also add that the same pressure is there even when you're not running over budget. And there are operators who take your " mandated-at-the-highest-level...saftey culture" to heart. And from my personal experience ExxonMobil (probably a shock to many) is one of the best. Maybe not perfect...probably no one is. But a heck of a lot better than many I worked with. Perhaps that's a rare silver lining to the Valdez accident.

Sounds similar to most Getty Oil operations I had dealings with as a small biz supplier of safety products some years back in a previous career. In particular the head safety man at the Getty Diatomite Project here in Cali was well known as the easiest guy in the world to get along with unless you wanted to borderline any safety rules. All the employees, contractors and anyone else on site eventually learned if you were doing the right thing safely, you had a good friend in your corner. If not, he would not hesitate to shut down any part of, or the whole operation if need be. He would run off anyone deemed as unsafe no matter who they were. Even his bosses learned not to even think about shortcuts or questionable decision making. Several times when they did try to get him to bend a little on certain things he told them they would be looking for a new safety man. The whole project was safer because he was there and he had the power and company culture behind him.

Obviously, not every outfit operates like that.

"the push has been for smaller government and lower taxes."

I stopped reading when I read this.

Since I work in the field of modeling, and in that boundary between government, academics, and the private sector, I have to rant about the "poor modeling" issue. It is a very frustrating process. One of the problems in many areas (the FEMA flood zones, EPA TMDL, and probably a dozen others I deal with) is that the models are regulatory, which means that any changes to the models must go through a horrendous process to be approved for agency use, and in some cases are even mandated by congress (99% of whom can't even add - see the budget for proof - much less solve a differential equation). The models I use are at least 10 years, and in some cases like the FEMA damage models, 30 years ahead of those used for regulatory purposes. A key problem is that the keepers of the models have absolutely no incentive to change or improve them - in fact, the are discouraged from it! For example, lets say that improved model physics shows even a small increase in the chance of an impact. The economic implications are enormous, and you've just opened the door to litigation by various parties.

Another issue is that government agencies develop models. Naturally, they want to use their own models, even if they stink, because that's how they get more funding. Model doesn't work? No problem - give us more money! Model works? Give us more money so we can keep it working! So third parties have a tough time competing with government modeling agencies. Academics tend to side with the government since government grants provide most of the funding for research, so the peer review process tends to be hostile to commercial efforts (in addition to the fact that commercial modelers generally don't like to reveal their internal details for competitive reasons).

It's a nightmare, but the bottom line is that present system does not allow the best science to go in to decision making.

methaz, your comment has interesting implications. Let's assume for the sake of this discussion that your model is better than a regulatory model. What happens if your model produces results that differ significantly from those of the regulatory model? Does the difference get publicized at conferences or highlighted in publications? Does anyone have the opportunity to suffer severe cognitive dissonance? Would you be shunned by people who might give you contracts if you asked embarrassing questions in public?

I'll give you a specific example. I was brought in by the Corps of Engineers to independently analyze a model being used by EPA to set TMDL levels in the Savannah River. The Corps wanted to use it to assess the impact of deepening the harbor. I determined that the model had some "issues", not the least of which that the uncertainty was 10x the values (like salinity, dissolved oxygen) they were trying to predict, and that it could not handle tides or marshes that go dry (we have an average 8 ft tide range here, and probably 90% of our wetlands go dry twice a day, so that's a bit of a problem). I recommended either changed to the model configuration or, ideally, several other newer models (none of which I was involved in - even though one of mine might be "better", I felt it would be a conflict of interest to recommend it, further proof that folks can be in industry and still have ethics). That caused a firestorm, because a Federal Court had approved the EPA model and process, and any changes to the model would retrigger a court review and litigation. The Corps felt it couldn't use a different model, because EPA wouldn't sign off on it for the EIS, and the environmental groups would use any differences to attack both efforts. Argued it internally for months, the dispute finally became public because I was required by contract to do a presentation, and there was no way to put lipstick on that pig.

And EPA and USACE have spent millions on studies based on this model, which are going to cost industry and the taxpayer 100's of millions in remediation. All based on a model that can't actually predict the variables that are used to justify the remediation efforts.

meth -- you seem like a real pro so I don't think you'll take offense to this crude philosophical view of models. You might even enjoy it:

How are modeling and masturbation similar? If you're not careful you might begin to feel they are the real thing.

The biggest challenge I always had with new engineers and models was getting them to understand that a model itself is pretty worthless unless tested and validated. They would build a model, and that would be that. I would ask "How did you validate it?" and get a blank stare. I think it is pretty common for someone to build a model and then start treating that as reality without ever going through that step of testing and validation.

Robert -- Along those same lines: I'm working with a very exotic geophysical system (electromagnetic telluric). I would guess about 99% of the petroleum geologists have never even heard the term. How it works isn't important. More to the point I couldn't begin to give you an explanation as to how it works. Way beyond my understanding of wave theories. But I've used it successfully in the past and working with it right now. As you point out: how can you have confidence in any model or technique you haven't validated. Even though I don't understand this technology I knew how to validate it with field studies. Doesn't work every where...that's part of the project specific validation. But when it works really well I can delineate a hydrocarbon accumulation that might cost $2 million to do so with a drill bit. But I can do it with EMT for around $6,000. Still have to drill that $2 million well to get it out the ground. But now I'll have an even better reason to drill then I started with.

BTW - My VP Geology gets so mad when I talk about EMT he'll leave the room. But I'll have him turned around in a 6 months or so.

Oh, Absolutely. I see agencies (like EPA) use the SAME data for calibration as they use for verification and testing. Talk about playing with yourself . . .

And, actually, you could have stopped at "getting them to understand the model". I reviewed a major, multi-agency, half a billion dollar project a few years ago where some of the design specs were created from a model one of the engineers downloaded off the intertubes, but didn't have a clue how it worked internally. They might as well used a dart board to set up the input parameters.

When I do lectures or teach modeling, I always start with this:
All models are wrong. Some models are useful, for a given problem.

meth -- Sorta along the lines of modeling you might want to try this on your kids. My first statistics course...from a biology prof. He always asked the same question first day of class: if he tossed a coin 19 times and it came up heads every time what are the odds it would show heads on the 20th flip? We would say the same: 50/50. He would just laugh at us. He said it didn't matter what the stat charts said: none of us would ever see, in an entire lifetime, an honest coin flip heads 20 times in a row. He said the better answer was 100%. The basic model assumption: it wasn't a two-headed coin. Flipping heads 19 times in a row should have been a red flag: your model assumptions were very likely wrong.

Maybe time for a humor break.

An engineer, a geologist, and a statistician went bow hunting for deer. They found a great hiding spot by a small meadow. Soon a nice buck began to graze.

The engineer pulled back his bow for the first shot. Whizzz...the arrow went in front of the deer, missing by inches. The buck looked around, but seeing no danger went back to eating.

The geologist took a shot. Damn! The arrow again missed by inches, this time behind the deer.

At this point the statistician jumped up and happily shouted "We Got Him!"

Odd that you bring up a completely irrelevant example when I just linked to a nice example of probability modeling at the top of this thread.

How would you figure out the size of Macondo, or the odds of the size being above a certain value, given the data that we have publicly available?

Web -- If you're asking me I wouldn't estimate the size based upon what I've seen. It can be difficult enought to come up with a reasonable recoverable reserve number when I have ever bit of data in existance. I've pissed off more than one manager by refusing to offer an indefensible number. Pissed off even more by arguing for a smaller number than they wanted.

Sometimes the proper answer is I don't know.

But you can give people the odds of what the size of Macondo might be based on all the other reservoirs that we have exploited so far.

Lots of people don't even have a clue how big this thing might be and how it compares to the rest. Right now, if this is a 50,000 barrel per day, it is above the 99.6% percentile. If it is at 400,000, 99.99% or like a 1 in 10,000 shot. All this is inferred from looking at the spike on the left side of the graph. Lots of large reservoirs with large flow rates occupy a small slice of probability.

If it was at 2,000 barrels per day this would have put it at 90%. 200 barrels a day would put it at 50%.

I assume lots of people might find this informative.

So, I do know the answer, but I can put it in probabilistic terms and have no problem in stating it that way.

Rockman is talking about reserves and Web is talking about flow rate. I doubt you'll converge.

IMHO reserves is the interesting question. I would bet a 60 ft sand was not what they hoped for - more like 300 ft. So I don't have difficulty believing Hayward's 50 million figure. It's not a question that can really be addressed by stats though.

Sorry Web...wasn't paying close enough attention. Projecting flow rates is an easy estimate for me. And I'm sure you know why: physics. That's the unusual aspect of the BP flow rates. I know you understand well the limits set by operators on the flow rates of their wells. We do calculate "absolute flow rates" but those are just a refined guess IMHO. Obviously the perm and porosity of the BP reservoir are excellent. But still amazes me to see how much is coming from 60' of pay. A cased blow out. I doubt any company would ever intentionally complete a well like this but I've bet a few completion engineers have thought about it.

This is the equivalency I came up with. The characteristic (median) reservoir size is 0.3 million barrels (fit here) and the characteristic flow rate is 200 barrels per day (fit here). That encompasses about 10,000 GOM reservoirs tabulated.

So the mean proportional draw-down per day is 200 barrels/day / 300,000 barrels * 365 days/year = 0.24/year. Which defines the average GOM depletion rate of 24% per year.

That is the number I get without understanding anything about the geophysics of the reservoirs. It all comes about from looking at the statistical ensemble of all the data and a simple model of flow rates and reservoir sizes. Which was my point about using probability modeling in context.


I think that it mat be amenable to statistics in some form but the stats have to be much more sophisticated. Shrinking to deepwater producing reservoirs would speak more to the economic hurdles involved in spudding a deepwater exploration well (nobody ever designed facilities for 300K bbls at 200 bbl/day). Even then, you will not be using posterior information that we have, like reservoir thickness.
Maybe it all works out for the final number: 24% - but it would seem miraculous.

(nobody ever designed facilities for 300K bbls at 200 bbl/day

Well I found the data in that form on the MMS site. So I suppose most of that data derived from wells in shallower waters but it gives people a good idea of what we historically expected.

You say in the passive tense that "stats have to be much more sophisticated". I do not understand this in the least, because I do this as a hobby and you or the MMS or the USGS accomplishes exactly what?
Do they do the "sophisticated stats"? Who exactly does the stats correctly? No fair saying the oil companies do this, as proprietary book-keeping doesn't count.

Maybe it all works out for the final number: 24% - but it would seem miraculous.

I would say that is the result of a comprehensive, self-consistent model.


I can say definitively that I, personally, don't accomplish anything. If I wanted to, I would take all the info I have about this particular situation (reservoir thickness, porosity, casing design ...) and model the flow with some kid of software that'd take me many weekends to write. Apparently BP did that and got 160000 bbl/day predrill and 100K/day post explosion (maybe 60K?), together with 240K/day relief - bunch of clues right there. Adding data from Main Pass might not be helpful, though.

I think it'd be very interesting to compare your 24% with production figures in deepwater. I bet it wouldn't be too far off.

I don't pretend to look at the geophysics of a particular reservoir and well. Just trying to hone in on the statistical chances based on a larger aggregate population.

BTW, In 1998 the depletion rate in the GOM was 26% per year.

I think that in all fairness, humans have a hard time with change and avoidance of groupthink as well as preferring to stay in their many times wrong, but comfortable paradigm...

I have a clinical nursing background and you should see how hard it is to change a process, procedure or equipment! Add stressed personnel in a highly complex setting such as an ICU, and you literally have to pull the old equipment off of the floor and have weeks and weeks or prep training and Q and A with the equipment managers..

Of course this is not the same situation that you are arguing, and I realize that. Copernicus encountered a little bit of that with the 13th century Vatican -- almost got himself killed.

Anyway, just my one cent...

Yes, I've run into this with electronics models ("SPICE") - which are essentially one-dimensional, and utterly trivial (mathematically) compared to shoreline, climate, or other complex fluids models. Despite that triviality, they malfunction somewhat routinely. So once in a blue moon I used to get caught in a conversation like this:

"The circuit is doing X".
"That's physically impossible."
"But it's doing it, I'll show you."
[We begin to stroll over to the party's office.]
"No. You don't get it. With that many volts, the Y would have vaporized. What color is the smoke?"
"What smoke?"
[Displays SPICE screen, tadaa.]
"Oh. That's a computer screen, not a circuit. It's just a model. SPICE malfunctions all the time. You know that."

We see that what's even harder than understanding and getting the concept of validation - SPICE is well-validated - is understanding when and how an existing validation might apply to a new circuit (or shoreline.)

With the electronics, it's so bad that there is still a major business in writing software shells that wrap around a SPICE core and attempt to contain the problems 'automagically'. A license ("seat") for a package with a fancy shell might range to $5000 and beyond, whereas the underlying math is around $100 and IIRC there are even free versions.

Now if this is the best we can get after 50 years (ancient names include ECAPS) of numerous engineers, academics, and supposed computer scientists fiddle-faddling with a model in a trivial problem domain, you can imagine how much faith I might have in shoreline, climate, pollution, or other such models, at least when it comes to painting anything more than the very broadest-brush picture. Heck, with millions of times more computing power than 50 years ago, "they" still can't even tell me if it's going to pour rain on my picnic tomorrow...

You also remember that SPICE is a model comprised of connecting models together. Each electronic component is a model in itself. How many of those models actually model how the magic smoke gets out? Not many I have looked at. They model the transfer curves but not the breakdown curves. To be fair component breakdown can be unpredictable as it can depend on small variations in the manufacturing process. Once you get into the more complex systems that rule things like the oceans I dread to think how all factors can be effectively incorporated.


As things get more complex they become in a sense more random in behavior and, lo and behold, often become easier to analyse.

Except that oftentimes we can't and don't get an analysis, we just get a lottery ticket even if it may be marketed as an analysis. The problem with statistics (and statistical models) is that they tell you very little about any particular instance. I'm not terribly interested in the abstract properties of a large ensemble of abstract picnics similar to tomorrow's picnic in some model-defined sense that may or may not be relevant and that I can't even know because it's probably hidden away as a trade secret. I'm interested in whether it will pour rain on one particular picnic. Ditto for oil washing up on a particular beach.

Interested in how much oil we have left, how much intermittent wind production will effect us, how well amorphous silicon works? All these have a basis in how disordered systems operate and the analysis becomes fairly simple just because the randomness is so pervasive. Your loss if you don't want to take advantage of that.

"They model the transfer curves but not the breakdown curves."

That's one issue. Occasionally they "converge" on a wrong answer, too. The main issue is that the user has to be very wary, and many aren't. It's hard to get people to distinguish TV from reality these days...

Answer: All of the above.

To verify, check in with the climate alarmists / climate deniers - Michael Mann; James Hansen; Chris Monckton; Alex Watts; etc, etc.

Well that probably explains why the standard oil depletion models are so bad.
No one can gain any traction in the bureaucracy to create some practical ones.

U betcha! Been there, had that done to me. Gotta love government finite element codes still in Fortran. Just write another wrapper for 'em. Hellofa way to run a railroad.

Hey, cowboy, back off - Fortran (especially the later incarnations like Fortran95) are super efficient, fantastic languages. I've written code in most of the major programming languages (ADA, C, C++) and many not so modern (ALGOL, SNOBOL, COBOL, BASIC) and still cut code in assembler sometimes. Just started a new (and I mean new, started with an empty directory) seismic damage model - and it's in Fortran 95.

Oh, and vi is for sissies; ed is for real programmers . . .

Fortran: agree
vi: agree to disagree

vi? ed?
You gotta look at the printout and repunch the cards!

Yeah. You're a pioneer.


Personally, I'm glad to have interactive terminals, but I don't understand the infatuation with clicking on pictures.

I ve got a moral problem.

i designed a new computer language to prog a AI.

but if i Prog the AI it got a right to live.

A room full of those make quite a racket.

Only the incorrect ones.

Unless you spill coffee on them. Or bend them.

Or put the box containing them on the roof of the car and then drive off.

I never did that but I can see now that I was just lucky

Or the 2000 card pickup -off the computer room floor. 'Hey, I've got a whole subroutine over here.


Ever used PL1? That sucked.

SNOBOL - now there's a blast from the past...

Terrific discussion of health issues late yesterday here and here:

Wanted to add that NIOSH also has a 2-page guidance document for occupational exposure to DWH oil response dispersant:

Can't remember who brought the incinerated turtles to our attention last week, but here's some better news on that:

The Guardian: Environmental groups and BP close to agreement over turtle threat

Update from the Press-Register: Deal reached in lawsuit alleging turtles burned during Gulf oil spill operations

"U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said Friday that lawyers would be in court later in the day to announce details."

I'm wondering why the MMS isn't using technology to their advantage in situations like these. If they are understaffed why isn't there any kind of central database for every well operation that is ongoing that has data uploaded to it on an hourly/daily/weekly basis? Wouldn't that then facilitate the efforts of a single inspector then being able to check the status of hundreds if not thousands of wells at the touch of a button or two?

Given what little I've been able to learn from this site (my ignorance not anybody else's :)) there are no shortage of variables that could have data points collected on and at the very least give these MMS inspectors a leg up when looking at drilling operations offshore/onshore or at very nearly any point at all. So is this a legal issue? Regulatory? Or what? Because if these people need help then I see no reason at all that there is not only one but several technological solutions to getting valid data into the hands of the right people. Unless it's just willfull ignorance on the part of MMS as a whole and to be honest if we can establish an empirical trail from start to finish we'd know exactly who's ass to kick WTSHTF.

Also I believe this to be entirely possible since it took nearly no time at all to be able to peer thousands of feet underwater at the robots monitoring/working on the seafloor.

If this is total pie in the sky stuff I'd appreciate somebody telling me what the hurdles would be that are so insurmountable.

Ha! I half-heartedly apologize for not looking up the details of this, OCH, but MMS proposed new regulations a while ago, to which BP and others were mostly opposed. Too expensive, not necessary, etc. One of the proposals was to have more information sent to MMS. MMS doesn't have much information, and at least some companies don't want to give them more.

MMS published something else after the comment period, but I don't remember whether it was a new round of proposed regulations, or final regs.

count -- get's back to that accountability factor I mentioned below. BP et all can comment and bitch all they want. At the end of the day drill permits are only issued if a company complies with the regs. If tomorrow the MMS required all offshore drilling rigs to be painted purple and a 50' Jack In the Box clown ball on top the derrick that's exactly what you would see next week. No one has the right to drill in the OCS. It's allowed only if regs are accepted and followed.

We'll just have to wait till the dust settles on the BP blow out to learn if we are really going into a new era of accountability or just a facade.

Actually Harry that technology has been in place for years. In fact much of what we know about the events leading to the BP blowout comes from real time data transmitted to onshore computer servers. Go back to TOD several days after the explosion and you'll find displays of this data. Every DW well I've been involved with had such a data transmission system. About two years ago I was sitting in my living room on a Saturday night watching TV while I monitored drilling activity on a DW well offshore Brazil. I was calculating the pore pressure while they drilled utilizing log-while-drilling data. I calculated an anomalous and potentially dangerous reading. I contacted the rig immediately. The company man on the rig had seen other alarming info and had already shut down drilling. He and I both went up the chain of command and after a 4 hour conference call came to the conclusion that it was a false alarm. Drilling continued without incident.

If the MMS were willing to monitor operations all they need do is request a password for these secure servers. They could make it a regulatory requirement but no company would ever refuse the request anyway IMHO. Had there been a knowledgeable MMS observer watching the BP during that critical period would they have called the rig and raised an alarm? Who knows. Maybe that regulator would have made the same faulty assumptions BP did (that they were in a very safe phase) and would have had his back to the monitor while he watched reruns of Frasier. Which is exactly what I was doing that Saturday night. Except I did my updates every 10 minutes or so when a commercial came on. Real life stories Harry...can't make this stuff up.

See ROCKMAN that's the kind of stuff that really and truly just pisses me off. I knew it was feasible but had no idea that it was that far along already. Well guess that could be a silver lining that not only is it possible but already 98% in place.

And while I'm not a huge fan of an over regulatory govt in any way shape or form I do think that there's some definite value to be added here if for nothing more than an additional person at the end of the phone saying, "nope hold on a minute I saw those same readings and I need you to double check first and not continue operations until you get two more good readings from operations." Or something hell I don't know could be 10 readings or whatever but I think you get my point. Hell it could even be sent by SMS to an MMS guy/gal/dog's phone in case they were at the ballpark watching a game.

Could even give MMS a secure password to the remote shutoff from one of those acoustic kill switches in case the rig had already blown up and killed everybody on board.

Tons of things "could" be done here without much effort imho. And make things dramatically more safe (but probably less profitable)

Exactly Harry, but then who would we blame if something like this happened again? Plausible deniability?

The technology is there,but we don't have industry people on the presidents committee who know the answers to the questions. Oh yeah they don't know the right questions and who to ask either!

Well Harry let me piss you off some more. It might have already occurred to you: there were dozens of folks in BP's office that has access to that real time data. And a few assigned to monitore it 24/7. Maybe they all assumed it was safe and turned their monitors off. Or maybe one of them saw the data and wasn't sure he should bother his boss that late at night. Or maybe someone sitting at home saw the danger coming and was running thru the chain of command to issue an alert. I've seen those exact scenarios first hand. And yes, I can be sitting in the drive thru line at Burger King and check on the same data on my Blackberry.

Sorry to get you worked up before the holiday. But by the time the final results of the official investigation are released I suspect you and many others will be even more p/o then you are today.

A computer is a fantastic tool for setting up thought exercises and then following through on them over and over again. If pressure X changes more than Y / sec then ... if flow of A change more than U per Q bbl / sec then ...

While I don’t believe that a computer 100% compensates for a human and the potential for intuition ... is there not a computer program that is reviewing the same data you are, that has been programmed to consider the data in the same way you are?

So, if you are saying a person should have been watching the flow of barrels, why not a computer that is running a program ... if this then that ... where that is email or call someone to shut in the well or run drilling mud or that there is a problem. For known boundary conditions, why wait until a person notices?

Very simple reason. People will put all their faith in the computer. If things are going wrong and it is obvious, even to the worms, that things are going wrong people will trust the computer even if it says all is fine.


kow -- though my pore pressure software is great it still takes a lot of twinking that can only come from experience. Though I had over two years of well site experience with this system I was still considered a rookie not to be trusted in a complex situation. And even when you get it working right you can still be wrong. In the example I gave it just looked like a pore pressure spike. But it wasn't. Still don't know what caused the anomaly. And none of the very experienced hands could figure it out either. Sometimes Mother Earth likes to remind us that we really don't understand Her as well as we think we do.

Actually you could have a computer monitor flow. But I think the problem that BP had was that mud was being transferred from different tanks at different times. The flow meters have to be re-zeroed when you switched tanks. But the sad truth is that if there had been smarter metering systems that were being monitored by a computer there could have been an early alert. But if you look at the displays of the drilling parameters that were sent real time to the onshore servers as well as to the rig floor and the company man's office you could see the numerical evidence of a kick coming. But apparently no one was watching or, if they were, they didn't believe the data. Likewise, a computer can't help with anything if you not watching the monitor.

This idea that there could be smarter, more robust, metering systems seems an important take away from this incident. The one bit of this puzzle to add, there is more to what a computer is able to accomplish than someone watching a monitor. Once an IF condition is violated, it is rather easy to THEN have a computer take a variety of actions … make a large sound / alarm via a connection to a drill deck horns, txt or email rig operators with data about the situation, call cell / sat phones, and I suppose after very specific circumstances … signal a BOP to close.

I will agree with every poster that says a computers will not replace humans and thoughts. They are tools. In this case, had an in-line monitoring system been in place, it would have noticed a significant change in action and sounded a horn / emailed / txted someone who might have taken action in the hour when there was time to take action. True, if the programming is poor, alarms / txts / calls might happen so often as to be ignored, but over time a system could be tuned to reduce false alarms and maybe actually help.

kow -- I mentioned before my protocol for checking returns even when there's no reason to worry. Like when we shut the mud pumps off to add a section of drill pipe. The driller watches the return line and counts how long it takes to stop flowing. Even with the pumps off the mud will flow for X seconds. And then I have the mud engineer watch over the driller's shoulder. And then I have the company man walk out and watch over the mud engineer's shoulder. More difficult to do that on a big semi of course. I would go for a closed circuit camera on the return line. But no computer: I want a pair of human eyes on the return line. If the hands don't care for this process...no problem. There's always someone to take their job.

As I've said before there's a lot about drilling a well that isn't rocket science.

As ROCKMAN once said, you can't fix stupid. But I do hope that we can use some human factors engineering to make it a little harder to be stupid. Even smart people sometimes do stupid things.

Even where you need a human paying attention, there are ways to make sure that this happens. One very old example is the deadman control on the New York City subway system. They stop the train if the operator lets go of the throttle, and they've been in use for 100 years.

It seems they've prevented 3 possibly serious accidents in that time.


I think the driller and tool pusher possibly got distracted just before the accident. There was the testimony of the Halliburton service supervisor that he did two unsuccessful pressure tests, was shut in from the well, and waited 45 minutes. He says he then went to the rig floor and was advised by the driller and tool pusher that they had done a successful test on the rig floor. Did they do some kind of third test? Don't know, but maybe they were distracted with something, and this is the period when the warning signals were coming in. The first explosion took place just a few minutes later.

Maybe there is a way to force diligent monitoring during critical periods.

True cud...can't fix stupid. But you can run it off the job. By they way, I've seen a deadman switch tied off twice on two different offshore rigs. Like I've said...

Distracted for sure. Rig down time can become very hectic.

Wow, I can use my expertise. Good systems analysts know when a program will not help, and when it will help. For example, aicraft carriers have what is called a Ouija Board. This board is a scale model of the flight deck that uses model planes and hex nuts to help the Air Boss keep track of aircraft location and status. In the 90's the DOD hired computer gods and national lab geniuses to computerize the system. Hundreds of millions of dollars and years later the tops guys and the Navy decided the Ouija board was far more reliable and safer than a computerized system. AFAIK, Ouija's are still used on all carriers to this day.



surfer -- I knew that didn't look right...thanks

While I don’t believe that a computer 100% compensates for a human and the potential for intuition ... is there not a computer program that is reviewing the same data you are, that has been programmed to consider the data in the same way you are?

Tricky to make work well.

Sure, we can have a rule set to flag suspicious events or trends ... BUT ... it is VERY difficult to encapsulate or crystallise the expertise of domain experts into software.

In fact most 'gurus' don't really know how they do stuff.

For example a shepherd can detect a sick sheep in a huge flock instantly at say 500 metres .. even 'tho the sick sheep is walking, eating etc just like all the others. The shepherd just KNOWS that the sheep is ill ... but probably can't explain exactly WHY he/she knows!

Or take the case of a major incident : EVERY rule will fire, every siren will go off, every LED will flash. The software simply won't know what to do, and what to present to the operators.

It certainly won't be able to report "Zirconium plate has broken off and has jammed in the liquid sodium/potassium coolant feed, and so has cut off coolant to the nuclear reactor". However the software rule base may finally decide to show the "Pump failure" screen ... not useful.

We also have the time domain problem : you can have hundreds or thousands of sensors delivering data in real time ... a veritable Niagara of data. At critical times thousands of events can occur ... how can you track those by eye? Or even in software?

So should we rely on human monitoring? Well, that doesn't always work out well. It's Christmas Eve and the staff are on vacation, leaving the not-very-bright new graduate in charge of the control desk. And then a power transformer blows .... good luck guys & gals.

I think we need to accept that 'shit happens' ... but we should ensure it only happens ONCE.

(I once worked on a tank farm project in the ME. We accepted the fact that the place could - err - disappear in an accident. Accordingly we had a logging teleprinter system running 24/7 keeping a paper record of systems events. This teleprinter system was set up in a small shed a few miles outside the tank farm perimeter. The shed would be the sole survivor of a major incident.)

The former MMS only had about 1000 people on staff and they spent little time on research and most of their time on paperwork.
The amount of data that is hidden from the public is amazing.
My linked comment at the top shows the kinds of gyrations that you need to go through to get decent analysis done.

If people think that the global warming crowd tries to hide data, take a look at the oil industry in cahoots with the US government.

BTW, England and Norway are much better at providing access to data.

R2 3D:

From the closed thread:

"The weight of the kill mud they'll use is yet to be publicly released. Most of us are guessing in the 16# range, but this will be finalized after the final RW casing shoe is tested."

I try to keep up but clearly I have missed something. Where do you guys get 16ppg? When I calculate riserless kill weight, I get around 13.5 ppg. I don't know the frac gradient but I seem to recall it beong around 14 ppg. So if you pump at 14 ppg, you kill the well and minimize losses. So what's the reasoning behind 16ppg?

To do a dynamic kill (ie. a kill operation on a flowing well) you will essentially have to kill the well with a mixture of mud, oil and gas and the density of that mixture must exceed the pore pressure of the flowing zone (actually more complex than that). Therefore the dynamic kill operation procedure involves the rate and the density of the kill mud. The higher the mud weight, the lower the required pump rate so it is a trade-off. It would be theoritically impossible to kill a 14ppg zone with 14ppg mud as you would have to have an infinite kill mud rate. Actually, if they do only use a 16ppg mud and the well is flowing 30,000 BPD you would need to pump kill mud at nearly 100,000 BPD (70 BPM/3000 gpm) which is a pretty hefty pump rate. Chances of success would be greater with an 18 ppg mud initially. I am sure BP and the Well Control Specialists can model the whole process and come up an ideal solution. It is not rocket science, but does require a good understanding of fluid dynamics and a number of assumptions about where the flow is going up the existing well (annulus/casing/??) .

It is a huge no-no to attempt to pump cement until the well is completely dead and static. Attempting to pump cement prior to that will certainly not produce an effective seal and could block the ability to pump down the relief well. This has been done in the past with disastrous results.


Thanks for the info - yes a dynamic kill is complex.

But suppose they start pumping the 14 ppg and it mixes in with the column, not 100% but something smaller. Then the flow will decrease a little because of the mud component. The decrease in flow means that new mud flowing into the column will comprise a greater fraction. And the flow decreases a little more.

In addition, at the beginning, we will have drawdown in the reservoir and so the kill weight is further reduced - of course the drawdown will go away as the well is killed.

The kill will take time but I don't see why it won't work even if the pumping is not at a huge rate. The percentage of mud in the column increases with time.

Benny - you apparently know your stuff. There were comments that the boys had some special chemicals/mud chemistries they might try. You have any idea what they might be? Way beyond my basic mud knowledge.

No I do not know of any magic chemicals that are considering. I am not in a position to know what they are planning. You may hear talk of a gunk plug. Sounds as untechnical as it is but has been used successfully. You mix at a high shear rate a mixture of water and barite and immediately pump it down the hole. As soon as the mixture hits the oil, the barite falls out and plugs things up. It is used sometimes in this application and for lost circulation. They probably have something like this in thier toolkit or something more exotic. I just know what I have used in killing underground blowouts which are very similar. Fortunately in my career I have never had to deal with a surface blowout. I spend a good deal of my time trying not have one of those and that is what I am doing at the present in revamping a well control manual for another major. Of course we do try and keep with learnings as they occur from this incident, but not involved with the actual incident. It would be very interesting to find out just what BP's kill plans are. KIlling a high flowrate with a reasonably high pore pressure reservoir is going to be a challenge. At least it is oil and not gas which would be far more difficult.

>> "The weight of the kill mud they'll use is yet to be publicly released. Most of us are guessing in the 16# range, but this will be finalized after the final RW casing shoe is tested."

Kent Wells on June 18:
"So when we – when the relief well enters the existing well, we’ll be pumping heavy drilling mud into it and it will build up inside the wellbore and kill the well. One of the things we’ll need to do is we’ll want to use the exact right mud weight that will kill the well from all the way from the reservoir to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. So by putting this capping valve in, it allows us to also have a pipe connected to the surface that gives us that additional hydrostatic head at the 5,000 feet.
And I think we’re going to be using a 14.2..."

14.2 makes perfect sense to me. But the TOD experts believe 16 is the number...

The skimmers now have competitors at slurping up oil: whale sharks.

"That basically confirms our worst fear: These animals do not know to stay away from the oil," Hoffmayer said.

All those animals out there, blundering into new and awful ways to die. Damn.

I think we need to plant more palm trees. Where the trees should go is another matter entirely. Think Hitler scene in 'Little Nicky'.

Edit: I sent the story to dickmorris.com and challenged him to bring his jolly butt down here to eat fried seafood. I am still awaiting a reply. I think Obama's reply will come first. After the Devil starts pushing a snowplow as they say in Alabama. I have been neglecting the local language, and I will start correcting that. One thing I have already learned from having my own site.

This is something that everyone needs to pay attention to. Cuba plans to drill 60 miles from Florida next year. (Wall Street Journal)


You think a Cuban engineer will cut corners? Firing squads are much more effective than a MMS, IMHO.

Edit: Thought about it though, what about Chernobyl, K-12, Stalin's Canal....In those cases though, politics drove things as much as science.

Yeah, there has never been corner cutting, incompetence and environmental disasters in Totalitarian socialsit countries before!

Good edit!

TFHG -- If the old urban legend about Mussolini getting the trains to run on schedule by shooting a few train engineers that could stand as a new model for the MMS. Heck, I could see where shooting engineers could get habit forming.

Nah, you are safe. Hide behind lawyers and politicians. Just stay low in case of round over-penetration.

True TFHG...but if you got the right guys shooting they'll be going for head shots.

Getting kinds dark around here for a Friday afternoon. LOL

The rules have changed old timer. Center of mass is what they now teach. Last time I was on a range, 48 out of 50 bulls at 100 meters with an M16A2 in semi-auto mode. I do not think I could hold as tight a pattern with an M4.

Understood TFHG. But my instructors made it simple: a head shot. And single slow paced shots. An occasion toe to the nut sack emphasized that point when needed. No "spray and pray". I'm sure you understand that vulnerability when prone. LOL. Of course, times change. But I don't: all my hunting rifles are single shot. My 10 year old daughter is welcome to get a repeater...with her own money. And if she doesn't want to hunt with me. Stubborn cuss, ain't I?

Yep. I use a BAR ShortTrac in .270 WSM. Great for the paranoid and no one questions a hunting rifle. As deadly as any semi-auto assault style weapon in the right hands. Wood stocks draw much less attention to rifles. Good as the worn bolt actions I used to use on the farm.

Now you got me jealous TFHG. Been wanting that short mag since I first read the ballistics. But I'm cheap and couldn't find one at a price I liked. I enjoy making cheap rifles shot well.

Well if you ever want to hunt in the Gulf Coast you can always call my mom .. she only uses single shot herself and there are a ton on deer track on the "farm" (that's in quotes because its only 25 acres). Though I think her hand gun is a clip holder, need to laminate her last target and post it on the front gate, almost all center except for the head and ball shot.

I like having extras for the unexpected. I rarely shoot at game more than once. I actually prefer varmints. .22 SR there. You can carry more than .22 LR and they do not go as far. More sporting too. Cost the same though. Since this all started, I have adopted the Cotton Rats of Little Lagoon. Have you seen those cute little guys in my pictures? Of course, I value human life supreme, but it would almost make me want to shoot something if the oil gets them. I wonder if BP headquarters has a porch light. I could probably get that with a pink squirt gun and avoid prison or death.

Same here...27 acres...the deer are pests! I have had them within a few feet of the house eating muscadines and last year they ate every tropical water lily in the front yard pond.

I've got video of a big doe staring down the barking dog, lol.

In Alabama, you can shoot deer, raccoon, probably a man (kidding) anytime and with a spotlight if they are eating your crops. If they eat ornamentals, they must be left alone. Unless of course, all other conditions for a legal shoot are met.

Well I used to get $12 - $20 each for water lilies on eBay, does that count as a crop? lol.

The problem is not legal, but with hunting skills, and someone willing to sit up all night. All we had home was a shotgun which I will not use. Guess I need my own rifle.

Try a BAR lightweight in .270 Winchester. Technology is good in certain cases. Certainly there are world of weapons that will work, but if you have acreage having a couple extra ready when you are out and about never hurt.

Sorry, the lilies or the muscadines would not work here. In Alabama, you can hire Cletis to sit for you and get the deer for free. They just want a sorta legal deer out of season. You are supposed to destroy it, but if you can prove a varmint shoot, they would cut you slack.

Bless all.

It's a dark subject, but begs for aphoristic comments. Interesting though.

It's a scary thought that someone might be out there thinking "Fool me once..."

"...The case of the US veterans was also dismissed on the grounds that the chemical companies were protected from suit under the government contractor defense..."

"...Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided most compensation claims by asserting sovereign immunity as a state-run company..." I only knew that because someone on TOD mentioned it a while back. That's a wiki link.

These incidents are plenty fresh in the minds of a lot of old people. Actually, best for the sprats to keep in mind that "Age and cunning will triumph over youth and enthusiasm every time."

Actually, "Buy you books and buy you books and all you do is eat the covers" applies as well.

It looks like one of the ROV's is installing some hardware to level up the LMRP flex joint.

Edit: Those things they are installing on the flex joint look really interesting. Does anyone know what they are? They look like they could be some kind of hydraulic leveling tool.

Yes, it's very interesting. Earlier today, an ROV used a rotary wire brush to remove a band of paint from the riser just above the big (24-bolt?) flange where they're working now. Then, they place those numbered yellow steel blocks, which have recesses milled out so they fit over the flange bolts. Now they're placing some type of devices, connected by a cable/hose, between the yellow blocks and the riser pipe. Maybe ultrasonic flow sensors? Or hydraulic jacks to shear off the bolts?

It is hard to count them, but there appear to be a few more than 24 nuts on that flex joint, and I do not think they would want to take it apart there. I think they may be trying to get it plumb.

Our politicians, yes ours...not the Brits, not the French; going back maybe to WWI after which they partitioned the middle east, should be "TARRED and FEATHERED, PELICANS SHOULD NOT BE TARRED and FEATHERED..."

the boss has given the base the afternoon off, so this here Canadian tips his beret to his american friends and wishes them a happy fourth of July.

God Bless America.

"A new computer model shows oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill has as high as an 80 percent chance of reaching the Florida Keys and Miami."

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the forecast Friday. It shows a 61 to 80 percent chance of sheen, tar balls or other oil remnants coming within 20 miles of Florida's eastern coast, from the Keys north to the Fort Lauderdale area, by on Aug. 18."


Maybe related.

Fish kill: dead crabs appearing

There's no easy solution for the puzzling fish kill in St. Johns
Fish kill in St. Johns isn't related to annual cycle

...The WOM is the water, in some dilute form, that originated at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site. Today’s analysis uses infrared and ocean
color satellite data during the June 24-27, 2010 period. The infrared data from June 24-27 were used to derive the background sea surface image and ocean frontal analysis..,"

The Rocky Shore protocol stated 6 hrs exposure, then rinsing. The environmental mock up was (suprise!)rocky shore. The GoM has some pretty beaches, but TFH Guy can tell you there are plenty of areas to swim that have that luxe muddy bottom. And that water damn sure isn't getting rinsed in anything but Macondo and Corexit.

I've seen one set of photos claiming to be from South Florida showing oil slicks. Also a dubious claim of oil washin' up in Cuba, but wasn't able to get anything verifiable from a request for more info.

In the old days erecting high steel the workers used to not wear safety equipment. You could not pry a mans hands off what he was holding onto because the reality of the situation was in his face and people didn't just fall willy nilly, other things happened to make them fall. Now when a person falls very often they are relying on their safty equpment. That lanyard for the first time in their career was not actual tied to that peice of angle iron, The roof panel that gave out under them was not a concern as hey the whole edge of the roof has a guard rail etc. To me the well is like that. Everything has saftey margin's. Don't worry about A because B will protect us in the unlikely chance A fails. Thats what the rubber thingy in the BOP is for etc. The result is in the day to day grind and un-avoidable commonness of even the most dangerous of activitys the focus is no longer in your face. How would this well have been drilled if there was no such thing as a BOP? And yet the extra safty is an improvement if used correctly. We don't all drive Abrams tanks a personal vehicles, yet if we did no one would die in personal car vrs tractor trailer accidents and more people then have died in wars would be saved. It's not evil corporations or government, it is the unavoidable balance of what is reasonable to actually build verses the complacancy that is bred by the very technology that is ment to save us. It is the human condition.

In the old days erecting high steel the workers used to not wear safety equipment. You could not pry a mans hands off what he was holding onto because the reality of the situation was in his face and people didn't just fall willy nilly, other things happened to make them fall

Hmm..., Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

Woo. Lace-up shoes (that stay tied) required.

Me on Perido Pass Bridge.

It was around '97 when OSHA started crackin' down on ironworkers where I lived at the time. At the time, most of the guys just wore the lanyards over the shoulder, because, well, there wasn't anything to tie off to yet. We hadn't built it yet. I had a few close calls, (roof panel pulled out from underfoot, section of lattice boom from an 80 ton crane land at my feet a heartbeat before I was about to put my arm underneath it, etc.), and got out of the business. Most of the guys I worked with were pretty comfortable with their jobs. (probably a stereotype, but most of the high steel guys I worked with were Native Americans). It wasn't until years later, driving by a job, when I saw all of the safety lines strung up around the perimeter of a job site, and I finally understood where they were going with things, (I never have been especially comfortable at heights, but have worked in the air since). I imagine they'd have to work out of buckets, whereas when I was working, the connectors would simply walk the perimeter of a tip up wall, or, well, I've seen some things that wouldn't pass muster with an OSHA guy, for sure.

I've done a little stage rigging since then, which has a whole host of safety issues involved, (in construction you rarely worked directly over someone, in stage work it's a scary constant, for one thing). It's a different barrel of monkeys, but there are calculated risks involved. TFHG's comment about the coconut trees reminds me of a time when a few of us risked our lives to take down some signs for a one day concert, and put them back up the following day, (why we couldn't just cover them with a tarp? Only clear channel knows). Crazy scary stuff, and a safety harness with a lanyard might prevent you from impacting the ground, but how many folks in the immediate vicinity are trained in fall protection rescue in a situation like that? Danglin' from a harness is not rescued, you're still at risk of cutting off blood flow, etc.

I haven't seen as much as some here, thankfully. But what I have learned is that no matter how safe you make things, there are going to be times when you're asked to make calculated risks, and you have to trust your judgement. Luckily for me, I was free to say, encouraged, actually, to say when I wasn't comfortable with something. There are others who are probably don't have the knowledge that they can keep their jobs if they say no.

Stagecraft cannot follow OSHA rules, and for some reason they are not asked too. Manlifts without outriggers on them are common. Moving lifts in the extended position is also the norm for focusing lights. Stagecraft is actually more dangerous then working on a rig the last time I checked.

Sharkman- One tailfin notch for you. As if the oil was not bad enough. Most dangerous job in America is FISHERMAN.

Yep, but many of the dangers there are unavoidable. Weather and such. Most places I have worked do not allow people to work under people who are working and might have loose tools or parts. The stage is never clear when I work and I know that people will always be under me if I drop something. I had a folding knife hit the deck near me last year from 100ft up and it was buried 1 inch in solid hardwood deck.

yup, that's something I never could get used to, havin' people I worked with walkin' underneath me like their lives weren't at risk.

My personal inclination isn't much compatible with that line of work: Stay out from under a load, and stay out from underneath another person, period.

I wouldn't say it's more dangerous, but yeah, moving an extended scissor lift is a fairly common practice, probably in any industry that uses 'em.

The article contains this statement:

For almost 30 years, since Ronald Regan became president in 1981, the push has been for smaller government . . .

The notion that Reagan -- and the Republican presidents who followed him -- succeeded in “deregulating” American industry or achieving “smaller government” is a complete myth.

There *were* a few instances of deregulation in this time. Reagan, for instance, succeeded in repealing the disastrous price controls on oil that Nixon had implemented years before. And there was *some* relaxation of regulations on the trucking industry and the airlines.

But “deregulation” and “smaller government”? Consider just two facts:

1) Federal spending the year before Reagan took office was $590.9 billion. Federal spending the last year of Reagan’s administration was $1,064.4 billion. In terms of spending, Reagan nearly *doubled* the size of the Federal government.

Data source: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/hist.html
See table 3.1

2) The Federal Register is the annual document that lists all of the new regulations created the preceding year. Here is Edwin Meese, Reagan's Attorney General, bragging about Reagan’s efforts at “deregulation”:

When Ronald Reagan took office, the Federal Register amounted to 87,000 pages every year. By 1985, he had cut that back to something like 47,000 pages, almost cutting it in half, as an example of regulatory reform.

Source: http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/onprin/v7n6/meese.html

So Reagan’s claim to “deregulation” fame is that he reduced the number of pages of new regulations each year from 87,000 pages to a mere 47,000 pages!

Folks, if you are nearly doubling the size of Federal spending and issuing 47,000 pages of new regulations every year, you are NOT “pushing for smaller government”.

There has been no “push for smaller government” -- there has only been empty Republican talk about such a thing. In reality, both the size and scope of government and regulation has continued to grow, year after year, regardless of whether the President has an “R“ after his name or a “D“.

Consider for a moment what the public's reaction would be to offshore drilling with no regulation- or bank insurance with no oversight? My guess is that neither of those two would happen. IMO business recognizes that they need a regulatory environment but not just very robust or effective regulations. The consumer folks think that if we have regulations they will magically be enforced. Hence we end up in the situation we are in- half the crowd blames the regulators for not doing their job and the other half blames the idea of regulation.

If we are serious about regulations and I would argue that good regulation enforced intelligently is actually good for businesses and consumers- here is a suggestion- have the regulatory costs be paid for by the business being regulated and demand that the folks who work on the regulatory side receive salaries that are equal to the those received by the people they are regulating.

The level of muddle is abyssmal, so I refer you to an article on government vs capitalism. The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night

Admittedly, I had the benefit of hindsight when I read an oil spill risk analysis, but was pretty surprised at how little detail it seemed to cover.

I've done a little stormwater/water distribution modeling, and my gut feeling is that the larger the system, the less confidence I have in any meaningful results. Back around 2000 I did storm water modeling for site developments in the metro Atlanta area. Long story short, the flood of 2009 way exceeded the flood parameters we used on any of our models. I think we were required to design to a 100 year flood, this one was bigger.

My tentative experience aside, it seems hard to grasp that these models are being used as anything approaching a definitive guideline to be referenced as authoritative by the industry. Publishing these works of fiction as the basis for contractors is almost an absolution of contractor responsibility. (Again, not having a comprehensive understanding of the industry, or myriad of regulatory agencies at play, merely the rants of an outraged armchair observer).

Any way, thanks for sharing your much more detailed experience.

Hat tip to Amerman who posted on 7/1/10. I added some additional comments to his post.

Since when does any federal government agency need a reason to be incompetent, dysfunctional, wasteful and parasitic? Blaming “industry” for more government incompetence, corruption, and sloth is stupid.

There have been 60+ years and over 30,000 wells drilled in the Gulf without this scale of accident, but it was bound to happen eventually. The anti-business posters blame “greed”, well what about government greed? This government took the $trillions of oil royalties, fees, jobs, yet FAILED in it's basic duty to protect American waters, or be prepared to contain this spill.

Despite the Obama/Dem BP lynch mob, I've seen no evidence of negligence; just of a failed Halliburton cement job, a failure of the Transocean crew/rig to detect/contain the kickback, and a failure of the Transocean owned/maintained/operated BOP to prevent the blowback.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) approved EACH AND EVERY DETAIL of the BP well, its location, its depth, its design, its equipment, its casing, its cement job and more. On some days during the drilling of the Maconda well several approvals were submitted to the MMS and approved each day.

MAYBE some evidence will surface of BP criminal negligence, but the evidence so far points to simple human errors of judgment, reaction, and equipment failure.

Many in the Obama/Dem BP lynch mob have stated that BP has a history of mistakes, poor safety and spills. If this is the case, how come the MMS allowed BP to drill one of the deepest offshore wells in US history in an environmentally sensitive area? If it was known to the government that BP was a “reckless” or a “negligent” operator, why did they give BP the license to drill the well? Was it because BP was the largest contributor to a number of incumbent politicians? Or did the MMS give BP the license because BP offered the government the highest bid for the lease? Wasn’t the government therefore “putting profits ahead of the environment”? Notice that the Obama/Dem BP lynch mob and the mainstream media are directing all their attention toward BP and none to the government’s own MMS. The MMS collects money leasing federal land for drilling and then collects royalties on the oil and gas produced. MMS personnel probably get promotions, raises and bigger budgets based on how much money they collect, so how does this make the bureaucrats at MMS different from businessmen who “put money ahead of safety”?

Will the Maconda well blowout result permanent destruction of the America’s ability to drill offshore, resulting in the massive jobs losses, more dependence on foreign oil, bigger trade deficits, bigger budget deficits, higher energy prices and higher prices for everything which uses energy? There are two ways this can go, based on our history.

In 1865 the steamboat SS Sultana suffered a boiler explosion while steaming up the Mississippi River. Between the explosion, the resulting fire and the boat sinking an estimated 1,800 passengers died, the worst maritime disaster in US history (the Titanic was a British ship and its sinking cost 1,518 lives). What made the Sultana tragedy even worse was that many of the victims were Union Civil War solders returning home from Confederate prison camps to their families. Boiler explosions had become common as the use of steamboats had rapidly increased, and boilers were also exploding in railroad locomotives and factories. But the Sultana tragedy happened when America had the can-do sprite that gave this country the high standard of living we’ve inherited from our forefathers, so instead of banning the use of steamboats, a commission of engineers and scientists set out to study ways to reduce boiler explosions. Their work produced a series of recommendations for boiler construction, maintenance and operation, under the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). To this day the ASME is the premier organization for promoting the art, science and practice of safe steam boiler operation throughout the world. They have over 600 different boiler codes and the insurance companies are the ones that ensure operators follow the codes. Neither the ASTM nor the insurance companies are government agencies. Today boiler explosions are rare.

In 1979 the Three Mile Island, PA nuclear power plant suffered a loss of coolant and a partial melt down of the reactor core. Nuclear Regulatory Commission personnel were called in during the event and determined that there was "cause for concern but not alarm". According to a study of the incident, “The NRC was hindered by being organizationally ill-prepared to deal with emergencies, as it lacked a clear command structure and the authority to tell the utility what to do, or to order an evacuation of the local area.” Notice that we always discover after a crisis that the government bureaucracies which were supposed to be regulating or protecting us have merely been shuffling paper and fail when they have to deal with reality. Recent examples are the Border Patrol and Immigration & Naturalization Service after we find we have somewhere north of 12 million illegal aliens in the country, intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI after 9/11, FEMA & the Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina, the SEC, Office of Thrift Supervision, Federal Reserve and banking regulators after the financial crisis, and now the MMS and other government agencies proving their incompetence in dealing with the Maconda well blow-out.

At Three Mile Island the containment vessel and backup equipment worked and no one was killed or injured. A small amount of radioactive gas was released, but extensive long term studies have shown no long-term health affects on area residents. Despite this, Jimmy Carter and the Dem lynch mob, aided by the liberal Hollywood and the media, effectively killed construction of new nuclear power plants in the US. This resulted in the US giving up its monopoly on nuclear power plant business, costing us hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs and allowing Japan, Russia and France and Canada to take over the industry. The fleet of US nuclear power plants built before Carter/Dem lynch mob ban continues to provide clean, safe, dependable, and very cheap electricity today, with an average cost of less than 2.5 cents/kWh. Compare this with Obama/Dem/Green projects like the Cape Wind Project, where the electric utilities are going to have to pay 20.7 cents /kWh for intermittent unreliable wind power and where the grid operator is trying to figure out how many hundreds of millions of dollars will have to be spent upgrading the grid to handle the wild power swings. Consider that some Florida utilities are now required to pay between 35 and 65 cents/kWh for solar electric power. Meanwhile, China is building what could become a fleet of 100 new nuclear power plants, so that even when US wages sink to third-world banana republic levels, we still won’t be able to compete in manufacturing because our electricity costs will be too high.

Engineers will learn from the Maconda well blowout and improve equipment/procedures, but will the bankrupting, incompetent, corrupt, dysfunctional, parasitic Federal Government, which has run up $13 Trillion of deficit ($4 trillion the last 3 years alone) ever allow offshore drilling in the US again? Given the similarity between the Jimmy Carter Democrats and the ruling Barak Obama Democrats, I doubt it. Thirty three offshore drilling rigs, each the equivalent of a ¾ billion dollar factory, are now being towed away from America and the jobs and prosperity they produce will leave with them, most likely never to return again.


a failure of the Transocean owned/maintained/operated BOP to prevent the blowback.

Let's not forget Cameron.

They manufactured the BOP which failed to work as advertised.

They manufactured the BOP which failed to work as advertised.

Not proven. It was never advertised to cut though two pieces of pipe simultaneously.

Bravo... (and up yours aardvark, it was out of warranty and modified by BP)

Thank you for that, Mr. Latta

I've seen no evidence of negligence; just of a failed Halliburton cement job, a failure of the Transocean crew/rig to detect/contain the kickback, and a failure of the Transocean owned/maintained/operated BOP to prevent the blowback.

With all due respect I don't think you have been paying attention. Cement jobs fail all the time and the BOP has not been proved to be defective, but most likely asked to do a job it was not designed to do. The negligence was ignoring the warning signs of a bad cement job and proceeding with the displacement of the mud anyway. And that IMHO was the direct responsibility of BP as operator of the well and calls all shots. But we shall see when the whole story comes out and I suspect it will in a criminal proceeding.

Also I can tell by the terms you use, kickback and blowback, that you are probably not very familiar with the drilling of a well and the relationship between the operator and the drilling contractor.

MAYBE some evidence will surface of BP criminal negligence, but the evidence so far points to simple human errors of judgment, reaction, and equipment failure.

Ignoring signs or imminent danger, that are taught in the most basic of well control classes, by a drilling engineer, is not in my judgement a simple human error in judgement.

It would be be like seeing that you were about to drive off a cliff and stepping on the gas on purpose, or driving toward a cliff blindfolded. I think in this case the chose to blindfold themselves and hoped that a parachute would save them. You need to stop first because there is a chance the parachute will not open.

when considering nuclear powerplant costs people seem to forget the cost of keeping the waste safe for the next 50 000 years, thats not in the electricity bill.

Tend to blow off decommissioning costs, too, which are about the same as construction.

Go figure.


What a laugh! You see the pursuit of profit over safety as being OK, but efforts to regulate to avoid such stupidity as predatory?

Funny stuff.

And that you see gov't and business as enemies rather than the bedfellows they are is simply astounding.

Have some more KoolAid.


and a second BRAVO

I hope BP's Macondo spill results in faster action than your non-government ASME and insurance entities. According to your version, an 1865 explosion results in a Boiler Code published in 1914-15. There was an 1884 code for testing of boilers, but clearly that didn't mitigate operational explosions.

According to the ASME's own history, they started their Boiler Code thus:-
" The Society is best known, however, for improving the safety of equipment, especially boilers. From 1870 to 1910, at least 10,000 boiler explosions in North America were recorded. By 1910 the rate jumped to 1,300 to 1,400 a year. Some were spectacular accidents that aroused public outcries for remedial action. A Boiler Code Committee was formed in 1911 that led to the Boiler Code being published in 1914-15 and later incorporated in laws of most US states and territories and Canadian provinces."

I doubt we will have to wait 50 years for the US government agencies to act...

Engineers will learn from the Maconda well blowout and improve equipment/procedures, but will the bankrupting, incompetent, corrupt, dysfunctional, parasitic Federal Government, which has run up $13 Trillion of deficit ($4 trillion the last 3 years alone) ever allow offshore drilling in the US again? Given the similarity between the Jimmy Carter Democrats and the ruling Barak Obama Democrats, I doubt it. Thirty three offshore drilling rigs, each the equivalent of a ¾ billion dollar factory, are now being towed away from America and the jobs and prosperity they produce will leave with them, most likely never to return again.

I agree, but you don't strengthen you argument much with the incorrect statements at the beginning of your post. It only serves to make those that know better skip the rest.

Well it looks like the BP apologists and deregulation fans have shown up. Perhaps you failed to notice that the BP officials ordered the mud taken out of the well after the cement plug failed to meet pressure tests? Or that the well had numerous problems prior to the blowout but nothing was done to mitigate for them? Or that the layers of protective devices usually added to a well were not added, or reduced? All of this comes from BP decisions; they were the prime who hired the other companies, it's their decisions that lead to this happening.

No one's saying the MMS officials are blameless; that agency needs to be rebuilt and cleaned up and given notice that their job is safety, not being buddy-buddy with the oil companies, and given the manpower and tools they need to make sure the work is done properly (no corner cutting like BP did on this well) and safely. Claiming "well MMS approved everything BP did" is like saying it's the police's fault because they didn't catch you driving drunk and caused a collision.


The shame of BP's actions beyond the loss of life and the enviormental damge, is the damage it has done to those that are doing it right in the Gulf as well as painting all corporations as greedy and evil.

AP: Gulf states seeking mental health money from BP

Officials in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have asked BP for tens of millions of dollars for mental health outreach and treatment programs related to the oil spill disaster, but it's not clear if that's how BP plans to address the issue. ...

It's their call? Why? Seems to me it belongs within Feinberg's purview (or maybe Mabus's "environmental and economic recovery" one?). Anyhow, MH needed to have been on the radar much earlier -- but not as BP's call to make alone.

It's their call? Why? Seems to me it belongs within Feinberg's purview (or maybe Mabus's "environmental and economic recovery" one?).

No, it is not within Fienberg scope.. The escrow account did not come about by accidence. Whitehouse and BP negotiated for 4 to 5 weeks between lawyers before it was signed and delivered. Don't you think it would be dumb for BP to just give a blank checkbook for Fienberg to hand out money anyway he want? Feniberg and Obama pretty much say it everytime they can, that the claim has to be verifiable.. That means only salary and business loss that can be proved... All the mental and environmental compensation belongs to the court since it is subject to all kind of fruad.. Why should BP pay any of this out unless someone can prove that they do indeed suffer mental issue?

Dear lotus,
Since day 1 I have thought turning things over to BP was, and still is, a big mistake. Now the lunatics really are running the asylum.

Special Report: Should BP nuke its leaking well?


jmygann, thanks for the link, best report on the subject I've seen yet. Detailed and objective. Hopefully it's all moot and the relief well will succeed soon. In the meanwhile though it seems a mistake that it should be ignored by those in charge of ending this gd disaster.

"A Whale" on its test voyage

tracking here http://bit.ly/93NDLg

Lurker during Katrina days, first time commenter, re corps (sans e, for now): Seems to me the problems of corporate/partnership/sole proprietorship, etc., malfeasance/misfeasance/nonfeasance occurring at a societally-threatening scale is directly related to the total amount of money that an individual can receive as opposed to the amount of money a business entity can control or receive. Using tax policies to constrain accumulation to reasonable amounts or to redirect excessive individual accumulations to legislatively approved endeavors would allow the "freedom" to prosper without the known corrupting influence of such power in the wrong hands. And cash most certainly gives power to those who have it over those to whom it is given or withheld. Perhaps an annual plus total limit on personally controlled assets set as a fraction of GDP, say, with the excess taxed or required to go to democratically approved projects would constrain the destructive potential of the inevitable percentage of megalomaniacal/insane/evil/incompetent/misguided mega-wealthy. It wouldn't deal with the purse snatchers or the Ayatollah wannabes found in some families, businesses and governments, but it may limit damages from the real Ayatollah's among us to a survivable level
After all, what right-thinking Texas-Ex really wants our little Brenham creamery spreading our secret addiction to NEW YORK CITY(?!) just to make an extra buck? The Oklahoma expansion was traumatic enough....

Alexander Higgins via his blog is claiming that the BOP is falling over, based on changes in inclimnometer measurements he has observed second hand.


One thing I would point out is that the readings from the 3 inclinometers were taken at different times, and don't agree with each other. Based on the lack of good data, I would conclude that there is nothing substantial to go on here.

You'd do better to look at other sources. Higgins has distributed a substantial amount of scary misinformation/disinformation, e.g, "Oil And Gas Leaks From Cracks In Seabed Confirmed - Videos Show", "Hole In Rock Near Possible Seafloor Leak Over 1 Mile From BOP" and lots more.

Here you go, it's not only flopping around like a dead fish, it's clearly also sinking as shown in this series of still pics.

comfychair, thanks for the neat images. Although I think what you actually see is the ROV/camera moving. Watch the gps coordinates change between each of the 4 images.

BP is falsifying the onscreen UTM coordinates in real-time, that has been proven without a doubt. They have massive spaceships intercepting the data, doing secret modifications, then relaying it back to shore for the sheeple to ooh and aah at on their computer machines. There's nothing but mud down there, do you really think a MASSIVE HUGE GIANT piece of pipe will be able to stand vertical for very much longer in the face of the infinite force exerted by the undersea water currents (not to mention the backwash from ROV thrusters??!)!!? The downward thrust from the escaping oil is currently pushing it down, as soon as they shut off the flow it will fall over and all the oceans of the PLANET will get sucked down into the massive hole in the seafloor. It's a FACT.

Yeah ok comfychair, Enjoy your fun, it's on me... I was just trying to help, but now I see you probably need professional care.


My mistake. It must be only oil because it's not red, and as everyone knows because of the fine research that World News has done, "The main reason for the color red is because its compressed methane which means it is the decayed remains of large amounts of organic mater."

When profits are being squeezed, as they were with the drop in oil prices from $147 to half that amount, it is especially easy to cut corners, to keep projects close to profitable

I don't see how that analysis really flies. From 1987 to 2004 the price was about $40 a barrel. Between 2004 and 2006 it went up to $80 a barrel. Dropped a bit than in 2008 shot briefly up to $147 a barrel and then back down. I have not heard of any of the major oil companies losing money in those years. They had a very very brief time at $147 a barrel. They were making money at $40 to $80 a barrel before that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brent_Spot_monthly.svg

In the first quarter of this year oil prices were around

In the first quarter of this year "Occidental Petroleum Corp. nearly tripled its net income compared with a year earlier, with $1.1 billion, or $1.32 a share, in the first quarter of 2010, the Westwood company said Thursday. The announcement came during a week in which most of the giants of oil and gas reported sharp increases in quarterly earnings. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest integrated oil company, reported a 38% gain in first-quarter net earnings, with $6.3 billion, or $1.33 a share. Royal Dutch Shell's net income grew 57% to $5.48 billion. But it was London-based BP, with quarterly profits that rose to $6.1 billion from $2.6 billion a year earlier, that was the lightning rod for ire over huge earnings in the midst of a deadly and growing disaster." http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/30/business/la-fi-oxy-20100430

Crude oil prices were in the high $70 to low $80 range in the first quarter so it is abundantly evident that plenty of money can be made even without cutting corners at that price. http://www.nyse.tv/crude-oil-price-history.htm

A few interesting responses from Dudley's PBS interview / Q&A session, no new technical info, but had some interesting policy & spill impact discussion
(transcript at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/july-dec10/dudleyfull_07-01.html

"I believe that offshore deepwater oil and gas is something that - it's a very tough choice that societies have to make, because the world does depend on energy and oil. Over time, there would be a transition from hydrocarbons, whether it's oil and gas or coal, to a lower-carbon economy, but it's going to take time. And a nation like the United States has to make a choice: Can it do this safely until we further engineer and make them even safer and safer?"
Bob Dudley, CEO of BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization

Still, more than 2,000 boats have signed up for oil-spill duty under BP's Vessel of Opportunity program. The company pays boat captains and their crews a flat fee based on the size of the vessel, ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 a day, plus a $200 fee for each crew member who works an eight-hour day.

Rocky Ditcharo, a shrimp dock owner in Buras, La., said many fishermen hired by BP have told him that they often park their boats on the shore while they wait for word on where to go.

"They just wait because there's no direction," Ditcharo said. He said he believes BP has hired many boat captains "to show numbers."

"But they're really not doing anything," he added. He also said he suspects the company is hiring out-of-work fishermen to placate them with paychecks.

Chris Mehlig, a fisherman from Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish, said he is getting eight days of work a month, laying down containment boom, running supplies to other boats or simply being on call dockside in case he is needed.

"I wish I had more days than that, but that's the way things are," he said.

Billy Nungesser, president of Louisiana's hard-hit Plaquemines Parish, said BP and the Coast Guard provided a map of the exact locations of 140 skimmers that were supposedly cleaning up the oil. But he said that after he repeatedly asked to be flown over the area so he could see them at work, officials told him only 31 skimmers were on the job.

"I'm trying to work with these guys," he said. "But everything they're giving me is a wish list, not what's actually out there."


Once again it seems that BP is not very serious about clean up.

I disagree that they're not serious, they just can't handle the logistics of a disaster of this magnitude. I don't see why BP is involved with coordinating the cleanup, skimming, etc in the first place. That should be the gov't emergency agencies that have experience with large scale disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. They have the experience and skills necessary to determine the resources needed and make use of all resources available in an effective manner. It's fine to keep BP and the other major oil companies driving the effort of containment at the wellhead and the relief wells because that's their expertise.

anon I disagree. BP doesn't want the clean up turned over to the gov't or any other group. This is because as long as they are doing the clean up they have the ability to hide what they want hidden. Apparently they are using workers to scarf dead animals off the beaches at night. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvd-rpvOQVQ

Notice this shoreline. Is it made of 'interlocking concrete tiles'? Looks like it is easy to clean. Can such things be done temporarily to provide a working surface to clean spilled oil from the beach, or does the prep work required to install such protection represent more effort than the cleanup of an uncovered beach would?

Of course I don't have a blue clue how hard they are to install, TF, but they sure look leak-prone and mighty dangerous to walk on or handle when oiled. Ya know?

OK, you are starting to hit a wife's level of accuracy with me. In case a man never told you, that would be approaching 100%. I am really starting to appreciate folks like you here. Thanks a million. Check out today's report on my site. Changed the text to black, thanks. It made a big difference. Bless you. TinFoil

Maybe not the blocks, but something could be done on the shore to protect it IF we could predict say 24hrs in advance the mile or two or five sections it would hit. Problem is we can't say with any accuracy where and what concentrations of oil will hit preicse sections on beach, marsh, etc.

On a iffernet note assuming that brown/black sludge at the bottom of the photo is oil, the booms seems completely pointless and ineffective.

You rock!

How about using large rolls of plastic sheeting over the beach? Run it down into the breakers and up over the sand to the tide line... when/if the threat passes remove the plastic, clean it (collected the deposited oil and tar balls) and reapply as needed...

They actually tried that. The sheets were hard to anchor and the plastic tore. One of those harder than it looks to properly install products. Thanks, people like you make this doable.

Understood. It's all very hard and it's only going to get worse by all indications. The beast is roaring louder than ever.

Anchor the plastic with something heavy, reinforce, double sheet, have patch crews standing by to stop and repair any rips, recruit volunteers from the community...

It can be done.

Or concrete blocks like in the picture. My plan included plastic sheeting below the blocks, but cleaning and removing the blocks when you were done sounds like a deal killer. Lotus strikes again.

I believe that the tiles are laid in sheets just like the little ones you might install in your bathroom. I think they have a barge that makes and lays them continuously, but they have too much draft to get to a beach.

I was thinking of something with a close weave but good tearing strength like pantihose. Pin it to the beach and roll it up afterwards.

But I can't see oil sticking to nylon -- it's too smooth. I wonder if there's a process like a brief microwave or laser pulse that would explode a thin surface layer of the nylon filament and make it rough or furry so oil would stick to it, but keep most of the strength intact?

Got cats?

So, as someone starting geology grad school at UT Austin this fall I took a look at the recruiting calendar for internships and full time positions. About twenty companies have info sessions and interview days scheduled so far. I found it interesting that, while most companies have one or two interview days scheduled, BP has four!

I imagine most students would be hesitant to even interview with BP (given BP's uncertain corporate future and the social stigma that working for them would incur), and if they did interview and received an offer, would only take it if it were the only option they had.

Just thought this was an interesting thing to point out since I keep hearing about the lopsided age distribution of geoscientists in industry.

As a grad student, I'm sure you have many more resources, (advisors' contacts, etc), than a b.s. grad. From my experience looking for a job as a B.Sc. grad, (miserable, I might add), I would jump on an opportunity to work for BP, because even if the company goes under, you'd still be making industry contacts. BP isn't exactly a new kid on the block. There's a lot of experience behind that brand. But I guess it depends on what you want to do. There's industry experts on here who are probably more qualified to advise you on that.



The link is to the Kent Wells video of June 28. Look at 3:19 into the video where they show a seismic traverse (in background). The bright reflector right at the bottom might be top autochthonous salt or just pre-cenezoic sediment salt pillow- in any case, it is beneath the reservoir. There is also what appears to be a salt intrusion just below the seafloor, which the wells (WW and RWs) penetrate. So, technically, it is subsalt.

Maybe already known on TOD but new to me.

Not sub-salt. Bright reflectors below the reservoir are indeed Oligocene (red) and deeper Cretaceous carbonates above autochthonous salt. I think the shallow section that may appear to you as allochthonous salt is just a low impedence section between bright sequence boundaries on the Plio-Pleistocene levee system (that's why it looks like a wedge). Macondo was drilled between allochthonous salt bodies, not through them.


Thanks, GN - you may be right - I don't remember any mention of salt in any non-tin discussions...

But it's a hell of a channel/levee signature - not shy at all. Strike

My new daily report is ready. I went all Vietnam today, I hope I do not offend any veterans. I am veteran of the (Desert) Storm. Check it out at http://gcn01.com . Add your favorite Apocalypse Now quotes in the comments.

a sincere thanks for (most of*) your contributions

*satire best left for the pros (though that's just my opinion)

It is just a short lived thing. No more satire. How about a movie instead. I was thinking chocolate syrup with my cereal as though the milk is actually oil. I know, leave it to the pros. Thanks. Really. Thanks.

How about a movie instead

How about a game? You can put this one on your webpage for free.

Be careful though, you might be accused of satire.

Tin Foil, the PBS newshour had a segment on Gulf Shores, AL tonight. They illustrated the use of the beach litter pickup machines to scoop up the tarballs. The idea to use these machines came from the local folks, and BP agreed to it. Looks like it worked pretty well.

Lots of information on the local businesses in trouble. I hope they can get their claims paid promptly by the new administrator.


Those machines leave too much oil behind. Better to cover the oil up with fresh sand and dig it all out after the well is plugged and major shorefalls have ceased. Then dig it all up and replace it. The problem comes in if the offshore sand from the seafloor is contaminated. At that point however, clean beaches would not be the problem anymore.

I was looking at the close-up of the tarball on your website. Nasty thing. (The tarball, not the website!)

Is there any way of separating the tar from the sand? I'm thinking of something simple like a tank of hot water. Dump the tarball in and the tar melts and floats to the surface while the sand falls to the bottom.

In the roadbuilding industry there are machines that collect milled/broken asphalt through a scoop in the front, then it's carried up a conveyor belt to a dump truck behind it. Something like that could be used to collect oil that's piled into rows, or even modify one that could collect several feet of sand/oil at one time. The machine has an adjustable elevation on the scoop so it could remove the first few inches of sand/oil, leaving everything else undisturbed.

If the beach was relatively flat, a road grader might work well. They can skim the oiled surface into a long windrow which can be scooped up and loaded by a Bobcat. Let the tyres down so the grader doesn't sink into the sand.

Posted by Gail the Actuary on July 2, 2010 - 7:36am: Clearly one of the issues is the role profitability plays in decision making, given our capitalistic approach to running businesses.

Perhaps it might be more instructive to examine this common misconception about capitalism. Especially as it applies to the nationless-corporate empires, such as BP, that we see today. I am not the first to observe how we Americans are conditioned to defend these corp. empires, regardless their often immoral and unethical behavior in the communities where they operate. That generational conditioning is not by accident.

Capitalism is one system designed and constantly reconfigured by the wealthy class, a very small number of people. However, over time and thanks to many brave and dedicated citizen-journalists such as we see here at TOD, and now faced with an event of biblical proportions, Americans face an additional crisis of identity. It may pass, or it could be a real "new begining," redefining what today we too often take for granted.

I thought you might want to post this, it covers a range of Solutions, and WHY they won't work. Maybe it will help Deter all the McGyvers out there, if they can see their solution has already been considered by a Petroleum Engineer from the Univ. of Southern Calif. Your site is Great!! Thanks, Trish Roberts


Watching http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?level0=100 I've noticed that the BJ Blue Dolphin is now underway from Port Fourchon to MC 252. I understand that this vessel pumped the attempted top kill. A description of the Blue Dolphin is here: http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=81044

I wonder what the current need for that much pumping capability is now.

Relief well staging?

Sense we are talking BP, profits and capitalism in this thread, I thought this might be an interesting read for folks.


SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Collapse Potentially More Devastating than Lehman!

As horrific as the gulf environmental catastrophe is, an even more intractable and cataclysmic disaster may be looming. The yet unknowable costs associated with clean-up, litigation and compensation damages due to arguably the world’s worst environmental tragedy, may be in the process of triggering a credit event by British Petroleum (BP) that will be equally devastating to global over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. The potential contagion may eventually show that Lehman Bros. and Bear Stearns were simply early warning signals of the devastation lurking and continuing to grow unchecked in the $615T OTC Derivatives market.

- - -

“People are seriously underestimating how much liquidity in the global financial world is dependent on a solvent BP. BP extends credit – through trading and finance. They extend the amounts, quality and duration of credit a bank could only dream of. You should think about the financial muscle behind a company with 100+ years of proven oil and gas reserves. Think about that in comparison to a bank with few tangible assets. Then think about what happens if BP goes under. This is no bank. With proven reserves and wells in the ground, equity in fields all over the planet, in terms of credit quality and credit provision – nothing can match an oil major. God only knows how many assets around the planet are dependent on credit and finance extended from BP. It is likely to dwarf any banking entity in multiples…. The price tag and resultant knock-on effects of a BP failure could easily be equal to that of a Lehman, if not more. It is surely, at the very least, Enron x10.”

From a historical context, some may not be aware that the infamous House of Rothschild at the height of their banking power moved into Energy & Oil. Also, John D. Rockefeller quickly realized his globally expanding Standard Oil was more a bank, consolidating his financial empire under a banking structure which resulted in the Chase Manhattan Bank (the basis of Citigroup). As long as an energy giant can manage its cash flows throughout the volatility of price fluctuations, it becomes a money and credit generating machine. It can borrow with AAA yields anywhere on the curve and lend to less credit worthy entities at attractive spreads. These lending differentials help fuel the $430T Interest Rate Swap OTC market. BP has been able to spin off $20B of earnings for the last 5 years and $15B in cash last year. All of this suddenly comes to an end if its credit rating is significantly impaired. But what could possibly cause this to happen? It would take a black swan event. An outlier. A fat tail.

Sound familiar? Heard this discussion before?

Because of the above, I am pretty sure BP will not be allowed to fail and will be propped up some time in the next year or so...

Watching the video is scary, looks like a lot more then 1 barrel every second. Of course I don't know how much is gas. Looks like mostly oil to me now though. Who approved the idea to cut the riser? I never even heard a discussion about it, it just was done. If the buck stops with Obama, then why did I not hear about him signing off on the idea?

Ocean Intervention III – ROV 1

This feed now has a video in video panel displaying the strangest images. Anyone have a clue? I don't.

Check http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/bp-live-oil-spill-cam.html for all the cameras. I don't see any cams on the spill right now which is odd.

The angle changed and now the insert image makes sense, it's a close up of the work area. Must have been an optical illusion for a while that fooled me. Sorry. Although the vid in vid is a nice addition...

Why don't they give these ROV operators stereo vision? It seems as though the better operators just wave the claw until they touch what they want to grab and then grab it. Other operators seem to try to sneak up on what they want to grab and waste a lot of time. An extra cam to get the stereo vision would cost almost nothing, I use a 3D monitor for games and it really helps in judging distance to my foes. It only cost about $300 for a 3D monitor and an extra cam would not be too expensive . I have a Zalman TriMon and it just requires polarized glasses just like the movies. You lose some resolution in 3D mode as each eye see's every other line of resolution but the resolution is 1680 X 1050.

I noticed that too. It can be very frustrating just to watch, I can't imagine what it must be like for the operator. Are these the best ROVs available?

I check in on the ROV's once a week and it looks like it's leaking more.
Can anyone here debunk this *worst case scenario* please? It looks like very little science blended with innuendo but it's spreading all over the web.

"BP Community Liaison" is an important sounding title. Self-appointed to that position in all likelihood, with a nice text overlay to generate visits. Yeah, I'll debunk it. That's partially the crap picked up and distributed by Before It's News, put out nearly two months ago by a supposed Russian agency. Embellished a bit, though. She's already wrong about the first hurricane.

The scarier and spookier it is and more scientific it sounds to people who think a quote is something to copy and paste on a MySpace page, the more likely it is to go viral. Which undoubtedly was her objective.

Sheer cruelty in the cause of self promotion.

Hey snake....some of us take our titles serious. I use to be the chairman of the Academic Liaison Committee for the Houston Geological Society. Impressed, eh? But the kids just called me the "rock man" (hence my screen name). I was the show&tell guy that went to the inner city schools and showed the kids rocks and minerals. I should also point out that I won every committee vote. Actually wasn't that difficult....I was the only one on the "committee".

Impressive indeed, Rockman, but you forgot to capitalize "Chairman" or should that now be "Chairperson" or just plain "Chair"? I get confused sometimes.

Actually I hope that somebody sues one of these charlatans for causing mental distress. Free speech doesn't allow for yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater even for commercial purposes.

Hooo boy, does the BS spread see the following post citing TOD as forecasting an apocalypse with the BOP crashing over and causing a chain reaction of disasters across the GOM. All this in a site claiming to be the 'go place for management'
On second thoughts, don't go over there and give them hits.

BP has confirmed that the failed blowout preventer (BOP) on its Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico is tilting sideways at an acute angle 12 to 15 degrees from perpendicular....superheated fluids erupting upward....Moreover, the already weakened sea bottom beyond the wellbore (eroded by up to 100,000 pounds per square inch of corrosive fluid pressure seeking escape upward from the leaks in the undersea piping) would crack wide open like ice on a pond. Should this occur, one of three scenarios may occur (presented here from best-case scenario to worst):....
3. Weakened sand and salt layers above the reservoir simply collapse, turning a wide area of the outer continental shelf sea floor into an underwater sinkhole that could bleed 2 billion to 3 billion barrels of oil into Gulf waters. In addition, seismic-shock tremors roll in all directions for miles, with an unknown effect on other nearby fields, especially BP’s Thunder Horse (18 miles) field and Shell and BP’s Na Kika complex, located in Mississippi Canyon Block 474 (approximately 15 miles south-southeast of the blowout).

What is their reference point, let me give a clue - AH. Let me repeat, this account is BS.


That must be from the DougR post that went viral.It was de-bunked here by some pro's, but the one part that I never heard an explanation for was why the valves were not closed on the cap. BP said that it was because the hydrates might build up and clog the cap. If the cap was clogged then it seems to me that that would seal the leak. It seems much more likely that they do not want to over stress the well-head which means that there might be significant damage to the well.I am posting here , but I don't know much about deep water drilling except what I learned from living in Texas and from this forum.
That's the great thing about this site, If I post something that is incorrect, there are about 200 people who will point out my errors, but they do it politely. :-)

These, cough, 'facts' have been de-bunked time and time again. They do not reflect TOD thinking, they are totally mis-represented. this is smegging me off and worries me that some of the craziest ideas make traction.


I have major concerns about the well integrity, but the erosion mentioned in DougR's post seems unlikely, at least in the case of the wellhead being suspended 200 feet unsupported because of the erosion and that leading to it breaking. Other points he made make sense to me, but I'm not in the biz.

The valves on the cap are open because they cannot handle more than 25,000 barrels per day on the surface, and there are 30 - 40,000 barrels of oil escaping from the well.

If they close the valves on top of the cap, more oil will leak from underneath the bottom rim, because there is a loose fit between the rim and the pipe flange.

It is a loose fit because they do not want to constrict the flow and build up pressure in the well and take the chance of an inconvenient blow-out. Rather have all the leaking oil coming out in one place -- the stub of the riser pipe.

Yes, the government shares some of the blame only because it continues to allow lobbying by the oil companies. The government's punishment should be to accept real campaign finance reform. There is no hope until that happens that the politicians can oversee the very companies that are their patrons.

If you aren't bought, then you cannot get into office it seems. You hit the nail on the head with that post.

Two words:-


hi; I've been lurking on your site for a while and have marvelled at the civility, though at times stressed is a beacon for constructive discussion, i thank you all. I have nothing to add to the knowledge base but found out that the English arn't totally useless; google thedailymash

No doubt what I'm about to say will get me banned, you just can't have absolute integrity and remain here, it appears. I've spent more than 20 minutes trying to find more diplomatic words, and I simply cannot find them. No other combination of words is the truth. So, speak it I must, for SOMEONE has to defend the truth, when untruth is spoken. If nobody is willing to stand up for the truth, even if it means them being banned, then we're all condemned by our complete absence of integrity.

Clearly one of the issues is the role profitability plays in decision making, given our capitalistic approach to running businesses. When profits are being squeezed, as they were with the drop in oil prices from $147 to half that amount, it is especially easy to cut corners, to keep projects close to profitable. If profitability is a company's number one goal, it can lead to all kinds of bad decisions, no matter what the field. For oil and natural gas, it can mean cutting corners on safety. For health care, it can mean over treatment of those who can pay for it, and under treatment of those who cannot. In the food industry, it can means unhealthy over-processed foods based on cheap ingredients are the primary ones that reach the market.

Unless the author is really promoting a non-economic society, one where currency does not exist, and there is no financial or even numerically based methodology of trade between people, complaining about "profit" is stupid beyond comprehension. If that's what's being advocated, then please be honest about it and just do that. All forms of trade which involve currency, be it a socialized economy, where all production and all assets are publicly owned, or a capitalist economy, where all of it is privately owned, PROFIT must be made. No matter who owns it, if there is any financial system whatsoever, PROFIT must be made, or the whole system collapses in upon itself. So, please stop complaining about the absolute, inviolable, unrelenting, absolutely impossible to avoid REQUIREMENT to make a "profit".

I am certain beyond ANY doubt whatsoever, that when the author walks down the sidewalk, he or she is not completely surrounded by padding, having every possible means of injury taken, up to and including those so onerous that progress between the door and the street simply cannot be made. In other words, EVEN THE AUTHOR TAKES RISKS. Eating, drinking water, walking up or down stairs, travelling on any mechanical device, or even horse drawn (far riskier than driving a car, for instance), is a risk. The very act of breathing unpurified air, food which is not absolutely provably risk-free, etc, involves accepting a level of risk.

Pretty much every driver has at some time exceeded the speed limit. I do rather regularly. One, because the law is stupid, and two, because the risk is low. Why is the law stupid? Well, it says that X MPH is deemed "safe". Or, at least "safe enough to be officially approved". It isn't "safe". Instead, it's a means of punishing people who behave in ways that society finds socially acceptable, for not behaving in a popularly accepted fashion, and then we put a financial incentive on top of it, to make the law more onerous than it should be, for purposes of raising money from a cynical public, in the form of fines. It is not, in ANY measurable fashion, less "safe" to travel at 57 mph than it is at 55 mph down the Oregon state highways. But it IS illegal. Why? To raise money for politicians to spend. Montana, for many decades, has had "reasonable and prudent". What happened when the US government forced Montana to create a speed limit? People drove faster in riskier areas than they did before. And that's fact. Deaths went UP, not down. Why? If you can't understand it, I can't explain it, it is as easy to understand and plain as day.

The push to "get more from less" is not limited to "capitalist" institutions. It pervades ALL HUMAN ENDEAVOR. Period. BP, and all the contractors involved did not automatically believe that "cutting corners" was going to turn something unprofitable to something profitable. Nor did they think that they were taking unwarranted risk. After all, having 600 inspectors on each platorm, and 8 billion pages of regulations will not remove all "risk" to deepwater drilling. No doubt it would dramatically WORSEN the risk as well as the percentage of things gone wrong. Nor can it be said that any of the entities involved did not fully understand that there was a financial downside to failure of a well. Like in our traffic example, when you're financially pinched, you are more cautious, since the financial risk is far less bearable. True, there may be some incredibly stupid people in management who do not grasp fundamental risk management, but that is an intelligence failure, not a characteristic of capitalism.

And now, on to the next...

For almost 30 years, since Ronald Regan became president in 1981, the push has been for smaller government and lower taxes. This has meant closer to unfettered growth of companies seeking profits, with little concern for the long-term benefit to the public. And of course, our other institutions have come to depend on these profits. Without the profits of BP and many other public companies, our pension plans would have no hope of paying out the benefits that they have promised. So there is a real need for continued profits, and in fact growing profits, to make the financial system "work" as it was intended. When these pressures, and the lack of regulation are put together, we have a system that is almost certainly headed for problems. (And not just in the oil and gas industry!)

If I were to dismiss the above as being "ignorant", and just say "look, this person's making a mistake", I'd be lying. This is a deliberate, carefully constructed, and skillfully calculated lie. It is so bold, so blatant, and so massive, that Goebbels would be overwhelmed by it's depth and breadth. It lies about many, many things, but it's designed purpose is to personally malign and to create popular prejudice and hatred against well more than half of all Americans. Americans, BY A CONSIDERABLE MAJORITY believe in limited government and by definition "small government". While the lie is designed to mislead the ignorant about who and what "other" people think, it's more insidious than that, it re-defines a concept into an individual character flaw, in such a way that a few people can then attempt to intimidate the non-ideological into accepting ideology as morality.

Of course, "small government" has absolutely NOTHING to do with wanting MMS to fail to properly supervise and oversee deep water drilling. No, "small government" is accurately described as believing the FEDERAL government should not be regulating, controlling, bribing educational institutions into doing what it wants. The FEDERAL government has absolutely no business spending billions upon billions of dollars for endless pork barrel spending, like funding research into finding out if wolves eat cats, and other equally inane nonsense. The issue of 'big government' vs 'small government' is asking if the federal governemnt should be running what has become the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of Man, otherwise known as "social security", and whether it should be regulating wages, selling "health insurance" in the form of medicare, and other such things. Or attempting to coopt the entire health care industry by bankrupting it with Obamacare and then rushing in to get its hands on the trillions of dollars the industry moves, in order to have more to direct and control than it already has.

These are the types of questions which are debated in the "big" vs "small debate, not the big fat lie told above.

As a staunch conservative, and as a former liberal, there is little to no disagreement between both political shades of the spectrum on whether the federal government should oversee the use of assets which are on federal land. And that it should do it well, should do it with integrity, and should do it effectively. There are perhaps some which subscribe the "anarchist" or "anarchist libertarian" ideology which don't believe in a federal government at all, some don't even believe in government, period. We all understand that those ideologies are neither prevalent, nor do their adherents have any influence in public policy.

And so, the argument that "Reagan" and "small government" advocates are to blame for the oil spill in the gulf... is more like the "biggies damnable lie ever told" than anything even faintly approaching truth. While Reagan had some small success in helping improve the tax code, and cutting some of the most insane taxes, the "bigness" of government is not up to the president, our system of government places the decisions of that nature in the hands of the House and Senate. What Congress does is what matters, and structurally, the President can do very little to change the scope, the reach, and "bigness" of the federal government. Anyone who would dare try to say that Congress since Reagan has somehow retreated the federal government into a pitiful shell of impoverished weakness where it has no resources, no money, no laws left to enforce would be not just be wrong, but would be telling desperate lies in order to advance an agenda that, like the lies and untruth pointed out above, cannot in any way withstand any intellectual acrutiny. Instead, or government has grown, unfettered to the point where its meddling in the credit, mortage, debt, banking, and just about every other market has brought us to all but complete ruin, and is currently struggling desperately to finish the job.

Yes, I know the mantra of "deregulation is to blame" is often repeated. It's still a lie so stupid it insults the intelligence of both the speaker and hearer. Even cursory examination of the issue reveals it to be so, and the more in depth you study, the more stupid the idea gets.

So, now that most of the readers are now desperately screaming for this post to be deleted, I'm going to dare any intellectually honest management here, if there is any, to have the guts to actually allow reality to be discussed, rather than to place this ideologically driven garbage to be posted as "fact". Especially when TRUTH is so desperately in short supply, and that TRUE answers are needed so desperately to the questions of the day.

The facts of the matter are that we're a victim of our success. Compare it to the owner of a boa constrictor who, after years of familiarity one day is crushed to death by his pet. His familiarity, his comfort with his deadly pet, lead him to disbelieve that the danger is as real as it is, and one day the inevitable has happened. Numerically, the number of successes vs failures is mind bogglingly good. And, that success leads to complacency among those who deal with the risks. Is that then, a reason to blame 'capitalism'? No more than capitalism made the boa owner die. Or makes the author travel down the sidewalk with every possible means of prevention from harm, from air filtration to biohazard protection to impact mitigation deployed to the point of near insanity. No, most of us just risk that we'll trip on the edge of the sidewalk one day and skin our knee, and then have to clean it up and use antibiotics to help it heal.

The biggest bit of evidence of the truth of this, is the author's very own words. Just read the last few paragraphs about the incredible inadequacy of the plans for dealing with a spill. How could they be that bad? There wasn't enough real-world experience and knowledge posessed by those who made the plans. The fact is, the precedent is pretty much non-existent.

The real difference between wisdom and foolishness is not whether or not you make a mistake, but whether or not you learn from it. As children, it means we learn to look where we're going to avoid tripping and falling. As adults, if what we "learn" from tripping and falling on our sidewalk is that we should never walk anywhere on the sidewalk, then we're just as stupid as one who says that the failures in the gulf prove we should never drill for oil. Even to the least knowledgeable, the apparent assumptions by MMS detailed above seem utterly incredulous. But yet, they were not only accepted by those who wrote them, they were considered "good" by them. Yet, not even I would dare say that MMS is staffed only by absolute morons. That would be utterly beyond belief. It's just we're looking at what they did through the lense of real life experience, and they had no such benefit, and instead, relied upon theoretical and academic input. There's a big lesson right there, people.

So, do we LEARN from what's going on? That is, do we now properly design "aftermath" plans which reflect real life behavior? That's learning. Do we then question why permits to drill in deep water were being approved, while leases for relatively low risk drilling in centraal Utah all got yanked and put into deep freeze? Of course. I even know the answer.

Do we learn from the fact that two government sponsored agencies whose mission was to "help people buy homes" together may have caused the largest international financial fiasco ever? Do we learn from the fact that endless borrowing results in insolvency? Or do we continue to just race recklessly down the endless bailout path, and codify "too big to fail" into our laws permanently? Do we continue to attempt to have political mandates wreak havoc with our electrical supply system, with ill advised efforts to do what is technically wrong, for dishonest "moral" reasons?

Do we understand that though government consumes more of our collective production than any other time in history, save two global wars, it has simply caused us to regress, not advance? That though funding to the federal government is at an all time high, in numbers of dollars and nearly so in terms of GDP, we've found that it is incompetent at almost everything it does? Why can't you people learn that lesson?

Is it because you simply cannot grasp how an organization, once it reaches a certain size, becomes less and less competent, until it reaches a point where it cannot do anything at all? That the MMS failure is not a feature of "small government" which doesn't exist, but is instead, a natural characteristic of BIG GOVERNMENT?

It's about time we got honest, not the fake honesty of those pushing an intellectually vacant agenda, but with each other and started dealing with facts and logic as tools to teach us what to do..and what not to do.

But then again, that is probably far, far beyond the tolerance of most of the readers here, who by now are purple with rage and demanding that such heresy be silenced with a gilliotine and then the remains burned at the stake. After all, it would be uncomfortable to think that your favorite ideology cannot solve real world problems.

I don't know what you're complaining about, especially with the 'you people' slur, because the most numerous and loudest voices here lately all come from your fellow Randians.

We have a mixed economy. Some things are publicly owned, meant to operate at a loss, for the public good. Things are much more likely to move more in your preferred direction (100% private ownership of everything in order to extract the maximum profit without regard to the effect on the society at large) than it is to go in your enemies' direction (100% state ownership of everything). What the hell are you complaining about again?

What the hell are you complaining about again?

Jesus, comfy, you coulda gone all day and all night without saying that. Please have a care for the rest of us. ;-)


You are not entitled to your own facts.

"Do we learn from the fact that two government sponsored agencies whose mission was to "help people buy homes" together may have caused the largest international financial fiasco ever?"

The above is one of the LEAST erroneous assertions. "Supply side" econ has been a hoax. Tax cuts have not paid for themselves, and people, and the markets do not operate as this monstrosity of logic predicts. The logic of "animal spirits", "moral hazard" are not markets but social, political, This school of economic theory has died in an inglorious collapse. Those adherents now blame Freddie and Fannie for the Western World collapse. And they now fight any solutions.

The basic tenet of supply side is that wages equal inflation, are anti profit, and benefits a disincentive to capital. Unemployment insurance, loans supporting the housing industry, health care, etc. all boil down to raising the cost of labor, therefore profits, taxes.

The simple fact that wages also involve propensity to consume, work, and live is lost in the mad rantings.