Friday, January 07, 2011

Oil Spill Commission Faults Management Decisions

The president's oil spill commission has concluded the Deepwater Horizon tragedy was caused by the poor decisions of management. They concluded it was the result of cost cutting and rushing to finish the work. The final report is not expected to be released until January 11.

All of this was known inside the oil drilling industry before the President appointed his commission to investigate the explosion and aftermath of April 20, 2009. The report mostly blames BP and Halliburton with less blame aimed at Transocean.

This panel of non-experts in the oil drilling industry point to the obvious. A rushed drilling schedule on a dangerous well site resulted in the tragic loss of eleven human beings and injury of others. It produced an environmental emergency to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf coastline of the U.S.

Here is a wrap-up of various reports on the findings:


Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Passing the buck is typical.

To make things worse, the report noted that, “whether purposeful or not,” many of the decisions made by the companies that increased the risk of a blowout clearly saved them significant time and money.

Ever since the accident, BP, Transocean and Halliburton have tried to shift the blame and repeatedly said they didn’t take any shortcuts.

In its own 193-page investigation of the blowout, published in early September, BP admitted it was partly responsible for the disaster but stressed that Transocean and Halliburton also made decisions that contributed to it.

As in all businesses, the oil and natural gas drilling industry looks to extract the product as quickly and cost efficiently as possible. In this industry, however, cost cutting can not be allowed to affect human safety. The deaths of eleven rig workers on the Deepwater Horizon must be honored and remembered. They must not, however, be used as an excuse to shut down an entire industry.

Layering on more regulations on an industry already the most regulated in the country does not promote stronger safety measures, or better decision making from human beings. Enforce the regulations already on the books. Stop the cronyism that promotes an acceptance of such coziness between MMS inspections, for example, and rig managers. It is not unusual to hear such jokes as inspections typically occur on the days steak is on the menu in the chow hall.

It is wrong to blame Halliburton for the cement that BP ordered and then told Halliburton how to run the cement. Halliburton warned of an inadequate number of centralizers used but BP ordered them to continue with the cement job as ordered. Make no mistake, BP was in charge of that drilling rig.

This explosion and spill was the result of a series of decisions made by those on the drilling rig. There is no one 'aha' moment. It is a dangerous business, drilling for oil and natural gas. One decision brought about the next and so on. There is no extra layer of regulations that would have prevented the outcome.

No comments: