To get to an answer, let me drill down and pose a few questions as we search for truth. If any of you out there have more information, please send it along.
This note speaks to: Why should we call this "Obama's Spill"?
Question: Why did several key Obama officials suddenly "resign" after the spill. Obama says he didn't know anything about it (see video).
Answer: I recall a small notice saying the Department of the Interior had waived Federal Safety Requirements for the BP well. It was Bush's fault, of course, because, after all, Bush had waived some safety regs during his administration. Still, could it be that perhaps the Obama Administration wanted these officials as distant and as forgotten as possible so they couldn't be subpoenaed to testify about waiving safety regulations? Nah. That couldn't be it.
Question: Why was BP drilling out there, a mile deep, in the first place?
Answer: Obama in his speech said that's because there's no oil anywhere else, that we're running out. Most would call this a lie. At best, this is a typical Obama statement of deception, and it's even true (sort of) if you add a few words -- anywhere else that U.S. oil companies are allowed to drill.
We have plenty of US oil, most say enough for the next century. This oil is in Alaska, on the Continental Shelf, off the coasts, in the Rockies, etc. We are NOT allowed to drill there. To be more specific, do you know why that particular BP well is located where it is even though neither BP nor Louisiana wanted it there?
After the Exxon Valdez spill, the Federal Government and the oil companies made a deal. In exchange for a $75 Million cap on liabilities (surely, this had to be a joke?), the oil industry agreed to only drill in places where the Federal Government allowed them to drill.
BP and the State of Louisiana had agreed to put that very well in Louisiana water, as a conventional well, one that was 500 feet deep. It was a done deal and they were ready to start. But the Federal Government refused to allow it. Instead, the only place they would allow drilling was 5,000 feet deep. The rest is, as they say, history.....
And, of course, without that ridiculously low liability cap -- which wasn't honored anyway -- the BP board of Directors surely would never have allowed that well to be drilled.
Question: Drilling deep wells is a specialized, high-risk activity. It's the future, but this well is on the edge of current technology (not so much for the depth of water, but for the combination of extreme pressure, water depth, and drill depth). Only a few companies have the necessary knowledge and experience to drill deep wells safely. BP is not generally considered to be one of these firms. It wasn't BP's drill rig. The rig is owned by a Swiss Company, Transocean, that specializes in deep water operations. The rig was owned and operated by Transocean, not BP.
To continue with the question I'm trying to pose: As difficult and tricky as it is to drill and operate these deep water wells, far MORE hazardous is the act of trying to cap off and stop one of these wells ("kill") once you have it going. This well was a huge find (it's not just a well, it's a major new oil field), but one that posed enormous technical challenges -- "The bottom-hole pressure in that well was 15,000 PSI, Yes, as in 15 thousand. Like a volcano!"
So my question -- Why in the world would BP (or Transocean) be trying to shut down one of the most valuable oil finds of the century, knowing that this "kill" was a high-risk endeavor, pressures were extreme, their blowout preventer was unproven, and there were potentially disastrous consequences if an accident (or sabotage) occurred?
- For some unknown reason the BP engineer chose to overrule the Transocean "mud engineer" who would normally be the expert in charge during the kill. During a "kill" the mud engineer on the rig is "the most important guy there." The Transocean mud engineer died in the explosion.
- Transocean has 14 deep rigs active in the Gulf. The last defense is a blowout preventer. These "blind shear rams" unfortunately fail about half the time. Transocean says 11 of their rigs in the Gulf have two rams, but this was one of the three that did not. Transocean says this was BP's decision.
- Federal Regulations require that BP would have to prove that it's blowout preventer could shear pipe and seal a well 5,000 feet down, but Obama's MMS inexplicitly waived the proof for this well.
Answer: I don't know why. But I can only think of one possible reason for them to take that risk. They were required to shut it down (to "kill" a "volcano"). And I can only think of one entity that would or could require them to shut it down, heedless of the risk. That entity would be the Federal Government, Obama's Administration.
One last question: In year 2000, the Federal Government and Shell Oil warned of deep water risks in an official government report. This report specifically warned that a deep water oil spill could start with a fire on a drilling rig, prove hard to stop, and could cause extensive damage to fish eggs and wetlands because there were few good ways to capture oil under water.
Answer: The Obama Administration knew of this report, or should have known of it. It was generated by the same regulatory agency, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, that has come under criticism in the wake of the BP spill. The Federal Government was either ignorant of this report or chose to ignore it.
This surely has to be Obama's Spill. The buck stops there.
Next: Why did Obama freeze development in the Gulf?
Obama has Harry Reed preparing a new attack to cram through Cap and Trade, with a vote demanded on a bill that hasn't yet been written by July 4, 2010. Please stand by and send this to at least half a dozen of your friends. As more becomes clear and if Harry doesn't drop this silly notion, we'll be asking you to contact your Senators.
If you learn anything, please pass it along. Meanwhile, here
is what is currently known and verifiable. This is the largest environmental
disaster in history, and how it is being handled and reported is, at best, very
odd. So far the "mainstream" media is not holding Obama accountable.
John D. Trudel, Consultant Emeritus, Inventor, Engineer, Author, retired Adjunct Professor (U. of Oregon), and Novelist.
Based in beautiful Oregon, sunny Arizona, and Cyberspace. The Trudel Group was established in 1988.