It was exactly one year ago today that the explosion happened on the BP Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf Of Mexico which killed 11 men and caused the worst oil spill in United States history.
My office had a guy on the rig that left the rig five days before the explosion. My company had people on the rig who were lucky enough to have left the rig in the morning on the day of the explosion.
When the explosion happened and the rig sank two days later, I told everyone I knew to not rush to judgment in the matter. Wait and see what the investigation yields before saying anything. A lot of things have been said in the media by oil industry people, politicians, and pundits on both sides of the political spectrum. I have also said a lot of stuff (not here till today) as well, except I tend to use a little bit of common sense when it comes to giving my opinion on things.
Disasters such as this one rarely have just one cause for accidents. If you look historically at accidents which are deadly, there is a multitude of causes which led to them. Having looked at the accident and the findings thus far, I place 90% of the blame on BP for poor well design (ie cutting corners) and a culture of safety mishaps including not learning from previous mistakes. I put 5% of the blame on Halliburton for not refusing to do an unsafe job based upon the poor well design. I also put 5% of the blame on Transocean for the same reasons as Halliburton.
If you look historically at BP as a company, they have a history of poor safety performance.
Look at their operations at the refinery in Texas City, Texas. They had an explosion there that killed around 15 people. BP found the cause of that accident, yet did not do the same exact modifications to their other refineries in the United States to prevent a similar incident from happened again. An almost identical accident almost happened at another refinery less than a year after the explosion in Texas City.
Wikileaks reported a while back that the same type of accident which happened in the Gulf Of Mexico happened two years prior in the Black Sea. Poor well design/implementation in the Black Sea well lead to an uncontrolled leak of gas. Although in that incident, the BOP was able to shut in the well and there was no explosion there and thus you heard nothing of this incident.
In another incident in the North Sea, BP had a severe gas leak on a production platform due to poor maintenance. Thankfully no explosion happened but the potential for one was still there.
So as you can see from just a little bit of highly condensed information, BP has a bad tract record when it comes to safety. It was not the whole industry which had this accident, but it was one bad company. Yet my whole industry on a whole was put on trial.
So when the explosion happened, the rig sank, and the oil started spewing all over the Gulf sea shores, the government put a drilling moratorium in place which stopped all offshore drilling until the cause was found.
When an airplane crashes do we shut down all of the air traffic? The answer is no. We find out what happened and then if the problem is limited to a problem with a certain type of air craft, then we fix the problem with those air craft. The last deadly crash in our country was the Air Colgan/Continental flight which crashed on approach to Buffalo. The main cause of that accident was pilot fatigue. And that problem of pilot fatigue with commuter airlines still has not been addressed and fix.
When a pipeline ruptures and explodes do we shut in all pipelines in this country? No we don’t. Remember the huge natural gas pipeline in a California neighborhood which rupture inside the neighborhood and exploded? It killed around 5-10 people and destroyed a dozen or so houses, and did we stop all of the pipelines from flowing? No we didn’t. The cause of that pipeline explosion was corrosion of old pipe.
When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound spilling millions of gallons of oil, did we stop all tankers from carrying oil? No we didn’t. The cause of the accident was found to be one drunken man allowed to pilot a ship. The cause was found out and stuff put in place to prevent it from happening again.
When two trains collide in a head on collision on the same track, do we shut down all the trains in our country? When there is a coal mine explosion do we shut down all of the coal mines? When there is a huge pile up on the freeway involving many cars, do we shut down all automobile traffic? The short answer to all of these questions is no.
So without even having a cause of the accident, a knee jerk reaction was done by our government by halting all offshore drilling. I don’t have a problem with a short stoppage of drilling to find out the cause of the accident, but that was not the intention of the government. The governments cause for this was to get us off of oil and gas and to also push the “green movement” in wind and solar energy. Don’t forget wind and solar don’t do anything for transportation needs or replace the stuff that oil is used in making. The president even went as far to blame George Bush and say that the MMS had an incestuous relationship with the oil industry and it was his fault. Yet when the president took office he appointed a woman to head the MMS and she was “lured” away from BP to come to the MMS (I bet you didn’t know that one). Just a tad bit of hypocrisy wouldn’t you agree?
The economy of the gulf coast relies solely on three things which are fishing, tourism, and the oil and gas industry. The nonstop oil spill destroys fishing and tourism, and then to kick a man when he is down, the government shut down oil and gas industry offshore. The media has said that the drilling moratorium only affected a few thousand jobs, which is non sense.
Tens of thousands of jobs were hurt by the drilling moratorium. Think each drilling rig directly employs 400 people. Then there are the service company employees who go to the rigs. The service companies have employees whose revenue from offshore supports other employees within those companies. Then there are the supply boats and their employees. There are helicopters which ferry people to and from the rigs who employ people. The rigs need supplies such as food, tools, etc which come from companies. The supply companies also need supplies as well. Then there are the land shipping companies which haul the offshore materials to and from the docks and offices. Also there are the hotels and crew transports on shore which are used. This is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the people who work in the industry along the gulf coast. It numbers in the tens of thousands of people not the mere few thousand that the media reported.
Now I am not trying to defend BP by saying all of this, quite the opposite actually. BP should have to pay for all of the damage (environmental and other) that they have done to the gulf coast. I also think that BP should also have to pay for the people who have lost their jobs because of their accident. Not just the fishermen but also those who have lost their jobs in the oil industry as well due to the drilling moratorium.
What I am saying is that this thing could have been handled better. It should have been investigated, the cause found, and measures taken to prevent it from happening again in the future. Seems simple right?
Well that is not what happened here. Politics entered the situation and we all know how politics fucks up things. To this day the governments answer to this is more regulation upon more regulation. We all know that the only industry more heavily regulated is the airline industry and those regulations can't even keep air traffic controllers awake on the job. What is needed is that the current regulations need to be enforced and actually verified by the MMS. Instead the government keeps changing the rules or not coming out with the new rules in a timely manner. To this day (at the time I am writing this) there have been a total of ten permits to drill issued. Of those ten permits, nine of those are for projects which were already drilling when the BP rig blew up a year ago. One permit for a new well has been issued and will likely never get drilled due to legal challenges from environmental groups.
And speaking of the environmental groups, did you notice how they were all up in arms saying that we should not be allowed to drill offshore here in the US because the coast is just to precious? You didn't hear them say jackshit about drilling offshore in other countries. Don't drill here in my yard, but you can drill across the street in my neighbors yard. Yea, that hypocrisy is one of the reasons that America and Americans in general are not well liked in the world.
The gulf coast has mostly been cleaned up and life (both man and animal) is starting to recover. Recovery though will take a long time as the effects of the oil spill are still happening and things are still being discovered.
My hope for all of this mess that BP has caused is that with all of the shit being slung by all of the parties, that the memory of the 11 men who lost their lives that day are not forgotten.And that an accident such as this is prevented in the future as the damage to the environment, lives, the economy, etc are too great.
EDITED TO ADD: I watched the news last night and was not shocked at all. BP still has not paid a ton of people on the coast who had ligetimate claims and there is still oil washing up on some coastal areas. And BP is mostly gone. Funny how those commercials said that BP wouldn't leave until this was over, and it turns out that there definition of over was when the news cameras left. They really piss me off.