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Oil Spill Stunner: BOP had dead battery, leaking hydraulics and 260 design flaws May 13, 2010

Posted by Jamie Friedland in Offshore Drilling, Politics.
Tags: , , , , , ,
As it turns out, the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing was much more interesting than its Senate counterpart.  Chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI, of abortion amendment fame) unleashed a blistering assault in his opening statement with some stunning new information.

It has been discovered that the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer had:
  1. A dead battery;
  2. Leaks in the hydraulic system that would activate the pistons in the [“unforeseeable”] event of an accident;
  3. By design, 260 different failures that could require the BOP’s removal and replacement;
  4. A useless test component installed, and;
  5. Cutting tools that were not strong enough to shear through 10% of the joints in the piping.
To clarify #5, the BOP is installed on the wellhead and the drill/piping are all threaded through it on their way into the subsurface.  In the event of a blowout, one or more of the pistons (this BOP has 5, 4 excluding the useless test installation) are supposed to drive a cutting tool to shear through whatever piping is currently in the BOP, sealing the well.

In this well (and who knows how many more off our shores), our self-regulated oil industry decided it was an acceptable risk to use piping through which the BOP could not cut; rendering even a perfectly-functioning BOP ineffective; if an accident occurred while that piping was in the BOP, it would be guaranteed not to work.  This is one explanation for what has happened.

There is more to say, but it has already been said better than I can:


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