Deepwater Horizon - Transocean Oil Rig Fire


#7281

BP’s Norway Ula field shut after oil leak pending investigation

"A ‘substantial escape of hydrocarbons’ occurred Sept. 12 in the separator module of the production platform at the North Sea field, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway said earlier. "

Cheers,

Earl


#7282

A couple of points to consider:

When a license is given to drill in the GOM, does this mean that the Gov’t Authorities responsible for granting the License have verified the credentials of the Company requesting the License to Drill? And, does it mean that they will allow activity to drill for hydrocarbons based upon ‘STRICT’ guidelines as laid down by the US Authorities? This may include the walruses, so be sure the environment, flora and fauna are considered IN ADVANCE of potential legal scenarios!

Is there a case against the Gov’t for not recognising some of the BP system failures at an earlier stage?
Are the Gov’t immune from prosecution?

It seems to me that many of the revelations the Gov’t ‘hold’ against BP can also be directed against the Gov’t!

Why have the media failed to question the Gov’t? Perhaps, people are simply satisfied with finding someone to bankroll the costs. But, the truth is, in my humble opinion, no-one understands the duty and requirement of personnel on a vessel to control volumes. Pressure and volume failures led to the failure on the Macondo. BP and TO, are responsible, but the Gov’t efforts to absolve themselves of any blame is futile…as the disabandonment of the MMS verifies.

As to the ‘cause’ of the accident…Well, that’s simple enough! Pump a barrel in the hole and make sure you get ONLY one back!


#7283

Going back to the MI Swaco ‘interrogation’ it’s clear that the guy who wrote the plan for displacement is clearly showing that Volume control on the Macondo was ignored, and that, he felt he had no part of it. That was left to the Driller and the mud logger. So, either TO or the logging company failed to monitor volumes. Or, the practice of ignoring volume control is widespread in the GOM. Or, no-one has any responsibility on the vessel apart from the BP Co Man, and as the Gov’t are clearly displaying reactive action rather than proactive action appears to be the acceptable trend…because the Operator will be held responsible anyway. With the attitude of the American Gov’t it seems that all overseas ‘adventures’ may be compromised by the ‘findings’ of the Us Gov’t with relation to the GOM Macondo demise. An eye for an eye! If such a catastrophe occurs abroad you can be damn sure the American Operator will suffer due to the precedent set down by the unlearned Gov’t in the USA.





#7284

[QUOTE=alcor;83077]A couple of points to consider:

When a license is given to drill in the GOM, does this mean that the Gov’t Authorities responsible for granting the License have verified the credentials of the Company requesting the License to Drill? And, does it mean that they will allow activity to drill for hydrocarbons based upon ‘STRICT’ guidelines as laid down by the US Authorities? This may include the walruses, so be sure the environment, flora and fauna are considered IN ADVANCE of potential legal scenarios!

[/QUOTE]

No question that MMS was a worthless, corrupt organization. It was set up by James G. Watt, one of the most corrupt Secretaries of the Interior ever (and if you know the history of our fair Republic, that’s saying something) with a goal of 100% deregulated exploitation of U.S. natural resources. Toothless by design.

[QUOTE=alcor;83077]

Is there a case against the Gov’t for not recognising some of the BP system failures at an earlier stage?
Are the Gov’t immune from prosecution?

[/QUOTE]

Yes. It’s called “sovereign immunity.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

[QUOTE=alcor;83077]

It seems to me that many of the revelations the Gov’t ‘hold’ against BP can also be directed against the Gov’t!

[/QUOTE]

Absolutely. The difference is that the Gov’t owns eleven Carrier Strike Groups and BP owns none. This is all about power and nothing but power.

[QUOTE=alcor;83077]

Why have the media failed to question the Gov’t? Perhaps, people are simply satisfied with finding someone to bankroll the costs. But, the truth is, in my humble opinion, no-one understands the duty and requirement of personnel on a vessel to control volumes. Pressure and volume failures led to the failure on the Macondo. BP and TO, are responsible, but the Gov’t efforts to absolve themselves of any blame is futile…as the disabandonment of the MMS verifies.

[/QUOTE]

Again, agreed.

[QUOTE=alcor;83077]

As to the ‘cause’ of the accident…Well, that’s simple enough! Pump a barrel in the hole and make sure you get ONLY one back![/QUOTE]

Agreed. There was a total breakdown of discipline, both on the rig and on shore.

Cheers,

Earl


#7285

What we know about the March 8 kick. This hasn’t gotten much coverage elsewhere, and few of the well diagrams makes it clear that there was parallel hole with a bunch of drill pipe in it. FWIW, there is at least one You Tube vid where a geologist argues that drilling the sidetrack well further weakened the formation and led to later problems.

What follows are excerpts from the BOEMRE report, the Chief Counsel report, and the BP report. The event was not covered in the National Academies report, the National Commission report, or the Transocean report. I’ve moved the end/foot notes in line. References marked “report” and “testimony” are publicly available. References marked “Internal” and “interview” are not, along with the BP Drilling Ops manual.

I’d be interested in people’s comments.

Cheers,

Earl


From the BOEMRE report

A. Kicks and Stuck Drill Pipe

BP company records and testimony from rig personnel establish that at least three well control events and multiple kicks occurred during drilling and temporary abandonment operations at the Macondo well. The first well control event occurred on October 26, 2009, when the well was being drilled by Transocean’s Marianas rig. The second well control event occurred on March 8, 2010, after the Deepwater Horizon had replaced the Marianas and resulted in a stuck drill pipe.

It took the crew at least 30 minutes to detect the March 8 kick.[BP Internal] This delay raised significant concerns among BP personnel overseeing the operation about the ability of personnel on the Deepwater Horizon to promptly detect kicks and take appropriate well control actions.

In a post‐blowout interview, John Guide, a BP wells team leader, stated that, at the time (March 2010) he was concerned that the Deepwater Horizon team had become “too comfortable” with itself because of its good track record for successfully drilling difficult wells, and that its members missed potential indications of problems during the March 8 event that they should have caught.[BP Internal]

Other individuals responsible for operations at Macondo expressed concern about the events of March 8

 * David Sims, BP drilling and completions operations manager, expressed concern about the BP well site leaders’ well control abilities in an email written following the March 8 kick. He stated that the well site leaders “are not well control experts. They are fantastic drillers – the best in the SPU [BP drilling unit], if not the industry. However, they do not circulate out kicks for a living, especially 1200 feet off bottom with many unknowns.” [BP Internal]

 * Mark Hafle told BP investigators in a post‐blowout interview that he believed some of the Sperry‐Sun mudloggers did not understand how to monitor the well properly, and that the Sperry‐Sun personnel were stretched too thin and did not have enough qualified mudloggers. [BP Internal]

Notwithstanding the high level of concern about the March 8 kick and the rig crew’s response to the kick, BP did not conduct the type of investigation of the incident required by BP’s own policies. BP’s drilling and well operations procedures require a well control incident report to be completed and documented in BP’s internal reporting system [BP Drilling Ops Manual] and provide that such incidents should be investigated to determine root causes and to identify ways to prevent reoccurrence. [ibid.] The Panel found no evidence that BP documented the March well control event in its internal tracking system or that it conducted a post‐ incident investigation to determine the root cause of the delayed kick detection.

Instead of conducting a formal investigation, Guide had discussions with the BP well site leaders and the Transocean rig leaders about the event and the drilling crew’s response. Guide told BP investigators in a post‐blowout interview that he believed members of the rig crew understood their responsibilities and admitted to him that they “had screwed up” by not catching the kick. Guide also talked to the Sperry‐Sun mudloggers about the detection of flow. [BP Internal]

BP’s in‐house group of geological experts, the “Totally Integrated Geological and Engineering Response team” (the “TIGER team”), conducted an analysis of the March 8 kick. This was not the type of incident investigation required by the DWOP, but rather a study of the pore pressure and other geological conditions encountered in the well. In an email “re‐evaluating how we manage real time pore pressure detection for Macondo type wells,” a BP geologist stated that “we need to have PP [pore pressure] conversations as soon as ANY indicator shows a change in PP” and we “need to be prepared to have some false alarms and not be afraid of it.” [BP Internal] He also noted:

Better lines of communication, both amongst the rig subsurface and drilling personnel, and with Houston office need to be reestablished. Preceding each well control event, subtle indicators of pore pressure increase were either not recognized, or not discussed amongst the greater group. It is the responsibility of the mudloggers and well‐site PP/FG personnel to openly communicate with the well‐site geologist. [BP Internal]

This analysis by the TIGER team, which was focused on geological conditions in the Macondo well, was not intended to address the specific ways in which the rig crew should monitor the well. Morel, Hafle and Cocales presented a document to the TIGER team on March 18 that addressed some of the events of March 8, but this document did not include a discussion of any measures to be implemented to ensure that the rig crew could detect kicks more quickly and effectively. [BP Internal] The Panel found no evidence that Morel, Hafle, and Cocales presented information related to the March 8 kick detection problems to anyone else involved in operations at Macondo.

After the March 8 incident, BP had to abandon the wellbore (leaving behind a number of costly drilling tools) and perform a bypass to continue drilling the well. [BP Internal] Responding to the kick and conducting the bypass operation resulted in additional cost and timing delay for the Macondo well.

Except for one person, the rig personnel involved in kick detection and response on March 8, including a mudlogger, drillers, assistant drillers, a senior toolpusher, and toolpushers, were the same individuals on duty on April 20 when the blowout occurred. [Report Footnote: One of the mudloggers on duty on April 20 was not involved in the March 8 kick. EB note: this was probably the junior mudlogger whose concerns about the effect of offloading mud on her ability to monitor was not followed up on by her superior.]


From The Chief Counsel Report

Reviews conducted in late 2007 and early 2008 similarly showed that “the quality of monitoring, detection, and reaction to downhole hazards during drilling operations” was “variable.” [BP Internal] In response, BP planned to develop a program to facilitate Efficient Reservoir Access, the “ERA Advisor.” This ambitious program would monitor data in real time onshore, generate expert and automated advice in response to that data, and use new software and sensors to track and diagnose the data. [BP Internal, Zhangi interview] The program’s goal was to “ensure the right information is in the right place at the right time.” [BP Internal] It would focus, however, on monitoring data during the drilling of the well (not end-of-well activities). [BP Internal] BP’s Extended Leadership Team developed and endorsed the ERA in 2009; initial pilot testing of the first stage of the system was to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010. [BP Internal]

Even before planning its ERA program, BP contracted Sperry-Sun to relay rig data to its Houston offices. But despite recognizing the risks associated with poor well monitoring and the usefulness of onshore assistance, BP did not monitor this data for well control purposes. Even though each of its working rigs had an operations room with dedicated Sperry-Sun data displays, [O’Bryan, Cocales testimony] BP typically only used these rooms for meetings and the data were “not ever monitored.” [Cocales testimony] Thus, before BP implemented its ERA Advisor system, it failed to take the interim step of ensuring that someone onshore was monitoring the data systems it already had in place.

This is surprising in light of the fact that BP was particularly concerned about well monitoring at Macondo. Less than two months before the blowout, on March 8, 2010, the Macondo well took a kick. [BP Internal] The kick occurred while the rig was drilling. [BP Internal] The Transocean drill crew and Sperry Drilling mudlogger–indeed, the very same Revette, Curtis, Clark, and Keith–observed a gain in flow-out, a slow gain in the pits, a decrease in equivalent circulating density (ECD), and an increase in gas content. [BP, Sperry, Halliburton Internal] The drill crew stopped the pumps, performed a flow check, and shut in the well. [BP Internal, Seraile interview] The situation soon went “from bad to worse” [BP Internal] There were “[m]ajor problems on the well”: [Guide interview] The pipe was stuck. BP ultimately had to sever the pipe and sidetrack the well. [BP Internal]

After the event, BP involved its in-house Totally Integrated Geological and Engineering Resource team TIGER tto conduct an engineering analysis, and (on March 18) distributed a “lessons learned” document to its Gulf of Mexico drilling and completions personnel. [BP Report] BP recommended that its personnel “evaluate the entire suite of drilling parameters that may be indicative of a shift in pore-pressure” (including gas, flow-out, and flow checks), “ensure that we are monitoring all relevant [pore pressure] trend data,” have [pore pressure] conversations as soon as ANY indicator shows a change, and “be prepared to have some false alarms and not be afraid of it.” [BP Internal] The “lessons learned” document also specified that “[b]etter lines of communication, both amongst the rig subsurface and drilling personnel, and with Houston office needs to be reestablished. Preceding each well control event, subtle indicators of pore pressure increase were either not recognized, or not discussed amongst the greater group.” [BP Internal]

In addition, BP wells team leader initiated several conversations to address the rig’s response to the kick, which he thought was “slow and needed improvement.” [BP Report. Note in Chief Counsel Report: "Although BP personnel deemed the drill crew’s response inadequate, Transocean did not. Transocean legal team interview] Guide specifically instructed the BP well site leaders to “up their game.” [Guide interview] He spoke with Transocean and Sperry Drilling personnel about “tighten[ing] up wellbore monitoring.”

The goal of Guide’s conversations and of the TIGER teams involvement was to maintain heightened attentiveness “for the remainder of the Macondo well,” [BP Internal] up to the point when the Horizon unlatched its BOP and left. [BP Internal] Evidently, the team fell short of that goal. As monitoring lasted all the way up until, apparently, the negative pressure test. [Guide interview] This is likely because BP’s focus, once again, was on monitoring data during the drilling of the well (not end-of-well activities). [BP Internal]


From The BP Report

After running and cementing the 16 in. casing, the drilling of the 14 3/4 in. x 16 in. hole section commenced on March 7, 2010. On March 8, 2010, a well control event occurred that resulted in the drill pipe becoming stuck. The drill pipe could not be freed, and the lower part of the wellbore was abandoned.


Well control event at 13,305 ft. Pipe stuck; severed pipe at 12,146 ft.


March 8, 2010, Macondo Well Control Event

On March 8, 2010, while drilling the Macondo well, a kick (i.e., initiation of reservoir fluids into the wellbore due to an underbalanced condition) occurred while drilling at a depth of 13,250 ft. Certain key individuals who were present during the April 20, 2010, accident were also on tour during the March 8, 2010, well control event. During the March 8, 2010, event, the influx from the reservoir went unnoticed for approximately 33 minutes, and a total gain of 35 bbls to 40 bbls was brought into the well before shutting in the well with the lower annular preventer. The hole section was lost because the drill pipe became stuck.

In addition to the pit gain indication, the pressure-while-drilling response from the downhole logging-while-drilling tools showed a distinct drop in equivalent circulating density from 12.41 ppg to 12.32 ppg, commencing within 2 minutes of drilling into the sand that caused the kick.

The BP Macondo well team conducted an engineering analysis of the kick that indicated a
33-minute response time and that there were indications of flow. A ‘lessons learned’ document containing the analysis and recommendations was distributed among the BP Gulf of Mexico Drilling and Completions organization. The wells team leader indicated that Transocean and BP leaders (aboard the rig) were given verbal feedback about the handling of the event.

In an interview with the investigation team, the wells team leader indicated that the response time reported in the engineering analysis was deemed to be slow and needed improvement. The investigation team found no evidence that Transocean took any documented, corrective actions with the rig crew either to acknowledge or address the response time recorded in the March 8, 2010, event. Transocean completed a Well Control Event Report as required by policy stated in their well control handbook. This event report did not list findings and stated that changes made to prevent reoccurrence of such an event were “still under review.”


#7286

[QUOTE=alcor;83161]Going back to the MI Swaco ‘interrogation’ it’s clear that the guy who wrote the plan for displacement is clearly showing that Volume control on the Macondo was ignored, and that, he felt he had no part of it. That was left to the Driller and the mud logger. So, either TO or the logging company failed to monitor volumes. Or, the practice of ignoring volume control is widespread in the GOM. Or, no-one has any responsibility on the vessel apart from the BP Co Man, and as the Gov’t are clearly displaying reactive action rather than proactive action appears to be the acceptable trend…because the Operator will be held responsible anyway. With the attitude of the American Gov’t it seems that all overseas ‘adventures’ may be compromised by the ‘findings’ of the Us Gov’t with relation to the GOM Macondo demise. An eye for an eye! If such a catastrophe occurs abroad you can be damn sure the American Operator will suffer due to the precedent set down by the unlearned Gov’t in the USA.




To my untrained eye, the reports and underlying testimony seemed to emphasize pressure monitoring rather than volume control as a primary status measurement. That may be an artifact of the temporary abandonment plan, which basically gave up on volume control, and led to people focusing on the Sperry Sun pressure data as the only indicator of what was happening.

Cheers,

Earl


#7287

Automation on the Cusp of Transformation

From the article:

“The open-platform design of NOV’s automated drilling system aims to allow drilling contractors to tailor their rigs, write applications for their needs and use their own drilling algorithms to improve the drilling process. The open-system concept allows any company to write “apps” for the control system and perform intelligent well functions using the system as an interface to the rig, according to NOV.”

A safety-critical real time control system with plugins from any old source? And the system integration and verification skills of the typical drilling contractor are precisely what? This is what you get when you replace good sense with a marketing plan. When (and not if) such a structure blows up a rig, we’ll get a new level of circular finger-pointing: “It was your app.” “No, it was your platform software.” Sigh.

Cheers,

Earl


#7288

[QUOTE=Earl Boebert;83380]To my untrained eye, the reports and underlying testimony seemed to emphasize pressure monitoring rather than volume control as a primary status measurement. That may be an artifact of the temporary abandonment plan, which basically gave up on volume control, and led to people focusing on the Sperry Sun pressure data as the only indicator of what was happening.

Cheers,

Earl[/QUOTE]

The biggest revelation concerning the ‘inquisition’ is the fact that all people asking questions are untrained, untutored and have absolutely no experience in the industry. The questions ‘touch’ on the relevant subjects but the questions are never deep enough or direct enough. The drilling industry is unlike any other and should not be compared to the typical onshore factory where systems are completely defined. The drilling industry is more dynamic and requires interpretation when trends change. The people conducting the trial can never hope to understand the industry without experiencing work on the rigs. They are simply lost and it is these lost souls who are making decisions, commentary, and law on a subject they know nothing about.

So, what have they done? They’ve looked at every conceivable way of prosecuting BP with the majority of consideration being applied to unrelated incidents.

We, in the industry, are making the equivalent of ‘Inflow Test’ decisions every single day. And, we are monitoring well volumes and pressure from the time we latch on until the time we unlatch the BOP every single minute of the day. So, it is incorrect for anyone to consider that the action taking place on the Macondo was in some way an unusual scenario. This is blatantly untrue. Every well around the world is posing different problems and it is up to the crews on each vessel to make immediate analysis and report accordingly to onshore engineers and supervisors when these problems arise. Often, scenarios arise where immediate action is taken due to the fact that procedures and learning are in place. The Driller will shut in a well or perform a flow check any time he wishes. The Driller has considerable responsibility and this is the way the industry must continue to work. His ‘culture’ of monitoring and responding to the trends is as important as the loggers and they will always pick up on these trends faster than any ‘onshore eyes’ who may want to be in a position to ‘advise’ or take ‘responsibility’ for all action. It’s not a job for anyone, it’s a job for they who can handle a crisis and bring it under control with a calm authority. Naturally, his backbone is always the Toolpusher who will sanction all activity based on clear understanding of procedures, principles, and above all, a culture of safety analysis.

No two wells are the same. But, the procedures and principles we use to drill the wells do not change and they come from the Contractor and are endorsed by the Operator with aspects of the operational procedure altered as highlighted in any Bridging Document. So, if no two wells are the same then every single day on each well is different, is dynamic, and therefore, requires constant scrutiny, pressure analysis and volume control.

So, the Macondo is completely unremarkable when we study what the crews faced on the day of the ‘Inflow Test’ And ‘Volume Control’ during the displacement. A blowout was never inevitable, and the well could have been controlled if MONITORING and INTERPRETATION of pressure and volume was performed correctly. In a nutshell, the doghouse was the place where decisions were made to either have a blowout or simply a well control situation. If TO procedures for monitoring the well volumes had been followed the Deepwater Horizon would be happily drilling elsewhere today.

Regarding the Swaco mud Engineer’s comments and testimony, he correctly states that BP have the authority on the procedure, but the OIM has to sanction the procedure, afterall, his men are conducting the operation. It better fit with his plans.

The truth is that there was no detail to the procedure and no-one questioning him asked why he hadn’t emphasised the importance of volume control. But, he was the man in place to DEFINE how the displacement and control of pit volumes was to be performed. He didn’t. He went to bed.

And, this is apparently the way things were done throughout the GOM according to his testimony. Therefore, in the GOM, when a well’s barriers are defined as passed rigs in the GOM stop monitoring volumes. But, they forget that barriers can break down at any time. Other companies around the world have it ‘cast in stone’ that volumes are recorded from the time of latch until the time of unlatching the BOP from the well.


#7289

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]The biggest revelation concerning the ‘inquisition’ is the fact that all people asking questions are untrained, untutored and have absolutely no experience in the industry. The questions ‘touch’ on the relevant subjects but the questions are never deep enough or direct enough. The drilling industry is unlike any other and should not be compared to the typical onshore factory where systems are completely defined. The drilling industry is more dynamic and requires interpretation when trends change.[/QUOTE]

Precisely. Probabilistic risk analysis and fault tree analysis are only relevant when applied to components like the BOP. When it comes to actual operations, the closest thing to process security is John Boyd’s OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide Act) model of conflict. His insight was that you have to run your loop faster than the enemy (or in this case, the well) can react. If you get behind you’re toast. Drilling is exploratory, and the essence of exploration is you’re never sure what you’re going to run into.

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]The people conducting the trial can never hope to understand the industry without experiencing work on the rigs. They are simply lost and it is these lost souls who are making decisions, commentary, and law on a subject they know nothing about.[/QUOTE]

Rig experience is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it gives you knowledge that others don’t have, especially tacit knowledge, the stuff nobody writes down. On the other hand, it can prevent you from looking at your system from the outside and in the larger context of what may be relevant technology and procedures from other fields. A mixture of insiders and outsiders operating with mutual respect for each other’s backgrounds is the best analysis team in my experience.

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]So, what have they done? They’ve looked at every conceivable way of prosecuting BP with the majority of consideration being applied to unrelated incidents.[/QUOTE]

I’m afraid I don’t view the March 8 incident as unrelated; 30 plus minutes of not knowing the well was flowing looks an awful lot like what happened later. The BP/TO reaction to that incident was remarkably slack. There is a well-known process for dealing with near fatal near misses that I learned 50 years ago in Curtis LeMay’s Air Force and I view what the BP wells team leader did in response with astonishment.

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]We, in the industry, are making the equivalent of ‘Inflow Test’ decisions every single day. And, we are monitoring well volumes and pressure from the time we latch on until the time we unlatch the BOP every single minute of the day. So, it is incorrect for anyone to consider that the action taking place on the Macondo was in some way an unusual scenario. This is blatantly untrue. Every well around the world is posing different problems and it is up to the crews on each vessel to make immediate analysis and report accordingly to onshore engineers and supervisors when these problems arise. Often, scenarios arise where immediate action is taken due to the fact that procedures and learning are in place. The Driller will shut in a well or perform a flow check any time he wishes. The Driller has considerable responsibility and this is the way the industry must continue to work. His ‘culture’ of monitoring and responding to the trends is as important as the loggers and they will always pick up on these trends faster than any ‘onshore eyes’ who may want to be in a position to ‘advise’ or take ‘responsibility’ for all action. It’s not a job for anyone, it’s a job for they who can handle a crisis and bring it under control with a calm authority. Naturally, his backbone is always the Toolpusher who will sanction all activity based on clear understanding of procedures, principles, and above all, a culture of safety analysis.[/QUOTE]

Which why I find it so remarkable that the industry invests so little in the training of their people. The whole purpose of simulator training is to show people what a crisis looks like and the consequences of not following procedures. The Air Force navigator trainer I helped design was used in the investigation of a fatal crash where a crew was given a faulty descent vector and flew straight into a mountain. The flight profile was programmed into the simulator and displayed to students with (typically) the words “this is what it looks like to die on the job.” You could see the crew thought they were minutes from home, relaxed, and ignored all the warning signs. I watched a run and it was impressively scary.

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]No two wells are the same. But, the procedures and principles we use to drill the wells do not change and they come from the Contractor and are endorsed by the Operator with aspects of the operational procedure altered as highlighted in any Bridging Document. So, if no two wells are the same then every single day on each well is different, is dynamic, and therefore, requires constant scrutiny, pressure analysis and volume control.

So, the Macondo is completely unremarkable when we study what the crews faced on the day of the ‘Inflow Test’ And ‘Volume Control’ during the displacement. A blowout was never inevitable, and the well could have been controlled if MONITORING and INTERPRETATION of pressure and volume was performed correctly. In a nutshell, the doghouse was the place where decisions were made to either have a blowout or simply a well control situation. If TO procedures for monitoring the well volumes had been followed the Deepwater Horizon would be happily drilling elsewhere today.[/QUOTE]

Which is why I find the reaction to the March 8 violation of procedures so strange. “Hey guys, you missed a kick. Let’s be more careful next time.”

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]Regarding the Swaco mud Engineer’s comments and testimony, he correctly states that BP have the authority on the procedure, but the OIM has to sanction the procedure, afterall, his men are conducting the operation. It better fit with his plans.[/QUOTE]

I still can’t get used to the whole split responsibility structure on that rig; it’s about as far from Crew/Bridge Resource Management as you can get. At least two people (junior mudlogger and the toolpusher who was going off shift) questioned how things were being done, a mixed BP/TO group discussed the test results for the better part of an hour and nobody said boo.

[QUOTE=alcor;83411]The truth is that there was no detail to the procedure and no-one questioning him asked why he hadn’t emphasised the importance of volume control. But, he was the man in place to DEFINE how the displacement and control of pit volumes was to be performed. He didn’t. He went to bed.

And, this is apparently the way things were done throughout the GOM according to his testimony. Therefore, in the GOM, when a well’s barriers are defined as passed rigs in the GOM stop monitoring volumes. But, they forget that barriers can break down at any time. Other companies around the world have it ‘cast in stone’ that volumes are recorded from the time of latch until the time of unlatching the BOP from the well.[/QUOTE]

It would be interesting to know whether TO operates significantly differently in Norway, say, than the GOM. That is, is it an issue of corporate culture or something that is location-specific. It would be dismaying to learn that the companies cut whatever corners the coastal state lets them get away with.

Cheers,

Earl


#7290

Earl and Alcor…
Good discussion. I concur with your observations. Had been waiting for someone to address some of these issues for months.

Let me add, watching the Coast Guard investigation live…very frustrating, the board was obviously trying to learn how “all this drilling stuff” worked.
They seemed to scratch the surface on a particular topic, set up a scenario then DROP THE BALL completely and NEVER ask the most relevant questions pertaining to the specific topic.

Additionally, Witnesses were not prepared to testify, some even indicating they had never thought about Who, What, When or Where things had happened after going home. The “defense attorneys” were not very sharp at objecting to certain questions and had not worked with witnesses to carefully anticipate their answers for 10 seconds or so while their attorney evaluated the question and determined if he would intervene (object) or let the witness proceed.

Overall, not an impressive performance by any of the players in what amounted to “public depositions”, witnesses had poor legal representation, were poorly prepared as
Far as having written notes as to their recollection of events immediately after the incident. The organizations conducting the investigation were merely acting out their fantasy dreams as “wanna be” investigators.

I still haven’t found where the curing time for the cement job before an extreme negative test has been brought into question by any committee.
In my opinion this may be one of the most critical parameters that had very little investigation as far as I can recall.


#7291

When we drill wells we have no idea whether or not all the previously-established barriers are intact…but we do have pressure and volume control. For anyone to suggest that we can blame onshore engineers for failing in the Macondo well design is simply stupid and clutching at straws!
The philosophy is rather simple: We never know what’s happening in a well because we can’t ‘see’, but because we are ‘visually blind’ we must never abandon the only method of ‘seeing’ the well and monitoring its stability. Other indications while drilling (MWD tools) are very important and, where possible, Pore Pressure readings are of considerable advantage.

I don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of the March 8th well control problem where the very same crew failed to notice a volume and pressure anomaly for 30 mins. I don’t know the facts but I would agree that 35 to 40 barrels is considerable on an HPHT well before shutting in. Circulating out this volume of hydrocarbons would put a great strain on the surface equipment, but I assume the operation went successfully?? As for the action taken to ensure the crews monitored the well correctly thereafter, the proof of this is in the Deepwater Horizon Daily Reports. Lessons were learnt…and then abandoned!

Again, I don’t know the circumstances but I do recall the daily reports from the Deepwater Horizon which were released which constantly reflected, in hourly intervals, the stability of the well. So, volume control was not being ignored…according to the daily reports. There is constant indication that volume control was paramount in the minds of the crews, and this is why it’s so surprising that the Drill Crew were prepared to ignore volume control during the displacement to SW. Somebody needs to ask TO why they failed to monitor the volumes. I don’t believe that BP told them not to ignore volumes during the displacement. TO are not allowed to ignore volumes, and yet, they told the logger to ignore them. And, the logger should have informed the BP Co Man. Did he do it?

I’m not sure that we have any more conclusions to the well’s failure. BP, provided the reasons and I still believe these are the facts. All of the other FBI/KGB/CIA style of investigation serves no purpose for advancing the understanding of why this well failed and sank the Deepwater Horizon. It is still impossible to conceive how this could have been allowed to happen. It is simply unheard of in the industry. And, can you imagine that the Authorities simply want to ignore these facts and simply observe that systems were not correct or were not in place. Whatever we choose to explore in terms of culpability on imagined standards which should have been in place, no-one can challenge the facts that on the day of this disaster the vessel personnel from BP and TO were completely responsible for the demise of this vessel. And, every indication supports the fact that ‘displacement without monitoring volumes’ was normal procedure in the GOM! So, I wonder how the other Operators feel about that.


#7292

CONGRATULATIONS ALCOR^^^^^^^^^*****

Your last post was >>>>>>>
NUMBER SEVEN THOUSAND

Never thought we would hang in here this long.


#7293

[QUOTE=Infomania;83882]CONGRATULATIONS ALCOR^^^^^^^^^*****

Your last post was >>>>>>>
NUMBER SEVEN THOUSAND

Never thought we would hang in here this long.[/QUOTE]

Infomania,

I think it reflects the fact that people want to make sure the facts of the case are relevant and don’t become entangled with the web of misinformation.
Fortunately, there are enough of us with open minds who are prepared to challenge the momentum of the investigation and hopefully steer them back on course.

The outstanding fact about the drilling industry is this:
We do not ‘see’ the failures in a well. We have developed our senses to recognise anomalies as they occur through monitoring trends, data processed at surface and also downhole in the case of the drilling activity. Above all, we monitor volumes in order to interrupt sudden failures which can develop on any well at any time. Too many people are under the impression that this is the only well that challenged the crews. The fact is that every well being drilled around the world pose the same or tougher challenges without incident. So, something on this vessel went wrong that particular day, and everyone wanted to initially blame BP and a guy called Hayward! Yeah, that gave the ignorant plenty of satisfaction and they supposed they’d found the centre of the problem. People even wrote books about this and the great historical failures of BP. For What? It doesn’t answer the question as to why the well failed.
Whereas, BP gave their reasons for the failure of the well within 8 weeks of the incident and Marathon supported the conclusions. The problem is that this wasn’t sufficient for the Gov’t and the media who wanted more that these facts…as if the company’s history would reveal the reason for the demise of the Deepwater Horizon.

Most of us know why the Deepwater Horizon sank and the Macondo well failed. But, the Gov’t aren’t prepared to listen because it would be political suicide to verify the failures as initially proposed by BP. They need ‘embellishment’ rather than ‘endorsement’ to be their way forward. When did you ever meet an honest Politician?


#7294

Good article on Process Safety:

From the article:

"Are we missing something? Why is it that despite several major oil and gas industry disasters, we continue to repeat the same fundamental mistakes? You may argue that each disaster is different and, therefore, cannot be compared, and you would be right.

However, if we look at the investigation reports more carefully, peeling away layers of individual actions, there are striking similarities at a fundamental level: the focus on slips, trips, and falls as opposed to major catastrophes; absence of policies and procedures with regard to critical high-hazard activities; failure in learning from others; a system of rewards that promotes and recognizes high-frequency, low-consequence events but mostly sits silent on low-frequency, high-consequence events; absence of procedures that automatically escalate a high-risk situation to more experienced and competent people when things deviate from their planned path; silo’ed systems with absence of cross-functional integration and communication; an organizational culture that fosters and even forces budgetary and schedule imperatives to take precedence, exposing the rig to much higher but not necessarily fully understood risks; and finally, a huge perception gap between senior leadership’s stated vision and their information regarding what’s actually happening on the rig floor."

Is anybody listening?

Cheers,

Earl


#7295

Coast Guard investigating oil sheen at BP Deepwater Horizon disaster site | NOLA.com
Wednesday, October 3, 2012. 6:07 PM

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating an oily sheen spotted in the Gulf of Mexico last month near the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill 40 miles south of the Mississippi River, a spokesman said Wednesday. Samples of the sheen taken near the site of the failed BP Macondo oil well have been sent to the service’s Marine Safety Lab in Groton, Conn., to determine whether the oil is from the BP spill, said Lt. Commander Michael Wolfe.

Article continues >>>>>>>>>>>>>>


#7296

IncidentNews: Mystery Sheen in Lease Block MC-252, September 2012

http://www.incidentnews.gov/incident/8510

Mystery Sheen in Lease Block MC-252, September 2012
Gulf of Mexico off LA. 2012-Sep-17
This hotline is being started for new reports of sheen of unknown origin in and near lease block Mississippi Canyon 252. This incident is likely related to reports in August 2011 (See incident #8345, Aug2011). Although the source of these sheens may be the wrecked BP Macondo Well, this relationship has not been established at this time. Activities include daily overflights sponsored by BP, with USCG or NOAA observers on board intermitently. BP is sending a vessel to the area with an ROV to investigate the potential source.

View map

Note: Documents are posted chronologically and early reports likely contain factual errors. These errors may be corrected in a later report.
Incident Response Documents

NOAA SSC Update 5Oct12 2012-Oct-05
Comparison to Aug 2011 sheen event 2012-Oct-04
Incident Details

Spill, potential spill, or other: Oil Spill
Cause of incident: Mystery Spill
Products of concern: Crude Oil Likely (sheen)

Latitude (approximate): 28° 44.50’ North
Longitude (approximate): 88° 22.50’ West


#7297

[QUOTE=Infomania;83613]Earl and Alcor…
Good discussion. I concur with your observations. Had been waiting for someone to address some of these issues for months.

Let me add, watching the Coast Guard investigation live…very frustrating, the board was obviously trying to learn how “all this drilling stuff” worked.
They seemed to scratch the surface on a particular topic, set up a scenario then DROP THE BALL completely and NEVER ask the most relevant questions pertaining to the specific topic.

Additionally, Witnesses were not prepared to testify, some even indicating they had never thought about Who, What, When or Where things had happened after going home. The “defense attorneys” were not very sharp at objecting to certain questions and had not worked with witnesses to carefully anticipate their answers for 10 seconds or so while their attorney evaluated the question and determined if he would intervene (object) or let the witness proceed.

Overall, not an impressive performance by any of the players in what amounted to “public depositions”, witnesses had poor legal representation, were poorly prepared as
Far as having written notes as to their recollection of events immediately after the incident. The organizations conducting the investigation were merely acting out their fantasy dreams as “wanna be” investigators.
[/QUOTE]

Agreed. The only people who were prepared were TO and the Marshall Islands on the issue of the OIM/Master split and its implications for emergency response. Marshall Islands had initially misclassified the rig as anchored rather than dynamically positioned, and both they and TO asserted that a DP rig was the operational equivalent of an anchored one, where the OIM was in charge while the rig was latched up and the Master was in charge when it was free. From a systems point of view this is a patently absurd position, and led to the confusion in the critical 19 minutes between the realization in the drill shack that they had a well control situation and the explosion. Even after the explosion, when the rig was on fire and there were people on the bridge severely injured, the Subsea Supervisor was getting pushback about initiating EDS without the OIM’s approval – at a time when nobody knew if the OIM had even survived the explosion.

There clearly is a faction in the Coast Guard that wants to see DP rigs under the command of a single Master who holds an OIM endorsement. This is strongly resisted by the IADC and there is an advisory panel chewing on the problem right now.

As an aside, your opinion of the CG/DOI inquiry was shared by the Chief Counsel team. Of the roughly 2000 citations in their report, only about 500 came from that inquiry. A similar number came from interviews conducted by the team, and the remaining half or so came from BP internal documents. This has the unfortunate side effect that not only is there a paucity of evidence, but three quarters of it is unavailable for public scrutiny.

[QUOTE=Infomania;83613]

I still haven’t found where the curing time for the cement job before an extreme negative test has been brought into question by any committee.
In my opinion this may be one of the most critical parameters that had very little investigation as far as I can recall.[/QUOTE]

You’re right. Both the NAE and the Chief Counsel team went into the cement issues in depth yet neither mentioned the on-site cure time; the only mention was the 48 hours of cure in the lab before the strength tests. Halliburton refused to give the Chief Counsel team evidence to support Halliburton’s assertion that the strength test was done before the cement job started on the rig.

Cheers,

Earl


#7298

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]When we drill wells we have no idea whether or not all the previously-established barriers are intact…but we do have pressure and volume control. For anyone to suggest that we can blame onshore engineers for failing in the Macondo well design is simply stupid and clutching at straws!
[/QUOTE]

I would distinguish between the onshore engineers and the manifestly disorganized and inept onshore organization. I think the engineer probably did his job just fine. The management was something else: indecision, lack of coordination, failure to follow up all over the place. Four examples stick in my mind: people were unhappy with the responsiveness of the Halliburton rep, so they just sort of complained. Who’s working for whom here? Evidence that a safety critical analysis is being sloppily done and nobody picks up the phone and says get these clowns off my job? Then there is the business of the centralizers. The thing that struck me there was not whether six vs. 21 made an engineering difference, but the bumbling way they decided this, then that, then got the wrong kind, then just fell into the decision of what to do. And they fly Schlumberger out to do a cement log, and then say, oh never mind, go on back home. Finally, there is this weird business of the VIP visit. A mixed bag of top brass arrives in the middle of a critical operation. If they had scheduled the visit one day later the temporary abandonment would (according to plan) have been complete and the whole rig crew free for show and tell and attaboy/attagirl sessions. So what gives here? The brass didn’t know that a difficult well was at an important stage? They knew but they didn’t care? They were there for some other reason?

So the issue in my mind is not whether the shoreside organization was any good (you’ll never convince me they were up to snuff) but rather what effect their ineptness had on the performance of the rig crew. The witch hunters take the position that the shoreside mess would overwhelm the most skilled of crews and that’s all we need to know. You have eloquently supported the position that the crew should be able to conduct themselves safely no matter what the bozos on the beach are up to. My leanings are somewhere in the middle, that the shoreside disorganization did nothing to support the rig crew and in some areas, such as the constantly changing plan for temporary abandonment, made their job more difficult.

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]
The philosophy is rather simple: We never know what’s happening in a well because we can’t ‘see’, but because we are ‘visually blind’ we must never abandon the only method of ‘seeing’ the well and monitoring its stability. Other indications while drilling (MWD tools) are very important and, where possible, Pore Pressure readings are of considerable advantage.
[/QUOTE]

Which (to go slightly off topic) is why I think the rush to implement robodrilling is going to end badly unless it’s placed under adult (as opposed to marketing) supervision. Second-party plugins to safety-critical software? Not on my watch.

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]
I don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of the March 8th well control problem where the very same crew failed to notice a volume and pressure anomaly for 30 mins. I don’t know the facts but I would agree that 35 to 40 barrels is considerable on an HPHT well before shutting in. Circulating out this volume of hydrocarbons would put a great strain on the surface equipment, but I assume the operation went successfully?? As for the action taken to ensure the crews monitored the well correctly thereafter, the proof of this is in the Deepwater Horizon Daily Reports. Lessons were learnt…and then abandoned!
[/QUOTE]

I think one factor was the classic process safety problem that risk goes up when a crew is doing something out of the ordinary. Supposedly (and I can’t find the reference now) this was only the fourth time in the history of the rig that they had run a production casing. The BP manager who visited the rig afterwards clearly thought the incident was a near miss, but didn’t put much energy into turning things around.

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]
Again, I don’t know the circumstances but I do recall the daily reports from the Deepwater Horizon which were released which constantly reflected, in hourly intervals, the stability of the well. So, volume control was not being ignored…according to the daily reports. There is constant indication that volume control was paramount in the minds of the crews, and this is why it’s so surprising that the Drill Crew were prepared to ignore volume control during the displacement to SW. Somebody needs to ask TO why they failed to monitor the volumes. I don’t believe that BP told them not to ignore volumes during the displacement. TO are not allowed to ignore volumes, and yet, they told the logger to ignore them. And, the logger should have informed the BP Co Man. Did he do it?[/QUOTE]

I would characterize what happened as an error of omission rather than commission. The temporary abandonment plan involved emptying the (now full) pits simultaneously with doing the displacement, instead of waiting to displace until the pits could be returned to a closed-loop state. The rig crew didn’t take any extra action to compensate for the non-closed-loop state of the pits (at least that was Marathon’s conclusion).

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]
I’m not sure that we have any more conclusions to the well’s failure. BP, provided the reasons and I still believe these are the facts. All of the other FBI/KGB/CIA style of investigation serves no purpose for advancing the understanding of why this well failed and sank the Deepwater Horizon. It is still impossible to conceive how this could have been allowed to happen. It is simply unheard of in the industry. [/QUOTE]

“Black Swans,” those low-probablility, high-impact events, are [I]always[/I] unheard-of – until they happen. The Titanic, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Texas City, all unforeseen, except in retrospect.

[QUOTE=alcor;83817]
And, can you imagine that the Authorities simply want to ignore these facts and simply observe that systems were not correct or were not in place. Whatever we choose to explore in terms of culpability on imagined standards which should have been in place, no-one can challenge the facts that on the day of this disaster the vessel personnel from BP and TO were completely responsible for the demise of this vessel. And, every indication supports the fact that ‘displacement without monitoring volumes’ was normal procedure in the GOM! So, I wonder how the other Operators feel about that.[/QUOTE]

I would respectfully suggest that there is a difference between “completely responsible” and “the sole factor in the event.” Yes, they were the last people who could have exercised initiative to prevent the incident from happening. But there were other factors, from the decentralized, numbers-driven management structure of BP down to the layout of the displays at the driller’s chair that had an influence on what happened. These wider factors in no way excuse certain behavior, but they are worthy of study and understanding if we wish to prevent other crews from unwittingly repeating that behavior.

Cheers,

Earl


#7299

Earl,
With all due respect, what a load of baloney!
Your efforts to overcomplicate the facts are unhelpful and your excuses for TO inaction are surprising. Your story is a repetition of the conspiracy to find BP exclusively at fault. The facts still remain: The personnel on the vessel made the decision to accept an inflow test that failed by a margin of 1400 psi despite bleeding off large volumes of fluid from the well. They then proceeded to ignore volumes which you conveniently excuse as related to onshore management disorganisation. How convenient!
I wonder why this kind of displacement procedure is allowed, to ignore volumes thus. Why was the status quo in the GOM to behave in this way? Why have the drilling and well control schools failed to tutor their personnel to avoid this type of behaviour? The culture was seriously flawed and everyone wants to believe it was down to BP onshore. The truth is that BP spent a long time trying to re-shape the culture of AMOCO and ARCO without success. Remember, Americans don’t like foreign companies dictating ‘change in culture’.


#7300

[QUOTE=alcor;85072]Earl,
With all due respect, what a load of baloney!
Your efforts to overcomplicate the facts are unhelpful and your excuses for TO inaction are surprising. Your story is a repetition of the conspiracy to find BP exclusively at fault. The facts still remain: The personnel on the vessel made the decision to accept an inflow test that failed by a margin of 1400 psi despite bleeding off large volumes of fluid from the well. They then proceeded to ignore volumes which you conveniently excuse as related to onshore management disorganisation. How convenient!
I wonder why this kind of displacement procedure is allowed, to ignore volumes thus. Why was the status quo in the GOM to behave in this way? Why have the drilling and well control schools failed to tutor their personnel to avoid this type of behaviour? The culture was seriously flawed and everyone wants to believe it was down to BP onshore. The truth is that BP spent a long time trying to re-shape the culture of AMOCO and ARCO without success. Remember, Americans don’t like foreign companies dictating ‘change in culture’.[/QUOTE]

I do wish you would carefully read what I wrote. Stating that something influences an incident does not imply an intent to excuse. I made it perfectly clear that only the witch hunters asserted that which you accuse me of, to wit, that the shoreside incompetence overwhelmed the decision-making of the rig crew. My statement was that the shoreside management did not help and probably made life more complicated for the crew.

I’m not impressed by sweeping generalizations about GOM-wide practices. I find it hard to believe that an ExxonMobil rig crew would exhibit the behavior we saw on DWP. More to the point, I find it hard to believe that an ExxonMobile Drilling Engineer would get away with sending six revisions to a temporary abandonment plan in eight days without performing either a risk assessment or management of change step on any of them. The guy actually had to be reminded to include the negative pressure test. And do you actually think any other operator would send out a company man who not only had never been on a rig before but who accepted the “bladder effect” explanation so thoroughly that even after he was fished out of the water and got back to the office he sent out emails promoting it?

It is definitely the case that BP botched the takeover of Amoco and Arco. You think it’s a Brit/American thing; I think it was more a finance/operations thing (I have lived through a major takeover – they almost never work). BP’s numbers-driven managers forced out all the senior Amoco/Arco managers because they were too expensive. Here’s what Bob Bea, who was hired directly by Lord Browne to advise them on the takeover, said about that decision:

“You’re screwed. You just early-retired your memory. You early-retired the people who remember all those mistakes you’ve ever made, and you’ve left all the bright young people without adequate mentors.” Bea further said that BP was too enthusiastic with its downsizing and left it with a “brittle organization” “When you put them under stress they tend to collapse.” The beancounters “stripped away all the robustness. BP became defect intolerant. The problem is, life is full of defects.”

BP Houston/ex-Amoco/ex-Arco was a mess. Here’s the content of an April 17 email between the Wells Team Leader (who had just received a de facto demotion) and the Drilling Operations Manager:

"[DOM], over the past four days there have been so many last minute changes to the operation that the WSL’s have finally come to their wits end. The quote is ‘flying by the seat of our pants.’ More over, we have made a special boat or helicopter run everyday. Everybody wants to do the right thing, but this huge level of paranoia from engineering leadership is driving chaos. This operation is not Thunderhorse. [The Drilling Engineer] has called me numerous times trying to make sense of all the insanity. Last night’s emergency revolved around the 30 bbls of cement spacer behind the top plug and how it would affect any bond logging (I do not agree with putting the spacer above the plug to begin with). This morning [the Drilling Engineer] called me and asked my advice about exploring opportunities both inside and outside of the company.

What is my authority? With the separation of engineering and operations I do not know what I can and can’t do. The operation is not going to succeed if we continue in this manner."

Finally, I think it is good for your industry and society as a whole that there are people inside API, IADC, COS and the operating companies who have refused to accept the proposition that once you have placed the onus on the crew there is nothing more to learn.

Cheers,

Earl