Download Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the by William R. Freudenburg PDF

By William R. Freudenburg

The tale of ways a sequence of mess ups, missteps, and undesirable judgements resulted in America's largest environmental catastrophe.

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Extra info for Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America

Sample text

This option saved both time and money, but it was not the most prudent choice for a well that had been having so many problems with high-pressure kicks. This particular shortcut was not even included as an option in BP’s original application to Minerals Management Service, so the choice required an application for an amended permit. Eager to help, though, the agency approved the amendment that very same day. The second decision involved “cementing in” the final casing.

This is one of the reasons shallow wells usually need to pump the oil to the surface, often using the “rocking horse” pumps that are seen in early oil-producing areas, while deeper wells are more likely to squeeze out a flow of oil without any such pumping, because of internal reservoir pressure. The drilling mud, fortunately, obeys some of the same laws of physics as do the oil and gas. The deeper the well, the more weight there will be at the bottom of the column of drilling mud, counteracting the gas pressure and helping to prevent a well from “blowing out” when the bit penetrates the reservoir.

21 The most systematic expression of concerns from the early investigations, however, focused largely on BP itself. Perhaps the most concise summary of the concerns was the one provided in a 14-page letter that the chairs of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and of its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, respectively) sent to BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward. The letter was Stored Sunlight and Its Risks 47 detailed and specific, but again, its overall message pointed toward an overall pattern of safety shortcuts that appeared to have contributed to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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