'Risk/reward equation' used in building gulf well, BP worker testifies

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'Risk/reward equation' used in building gulf well, BP worker testifies

Post by imaginethat on Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:10 pm

At CC I was the BP accuser ... I was told. I'm wondering: Do any of y'all think BP will ever be brought to account, with top execs taking the Fifth routinely? Interesting that Coast Guard Capt. Hung Nguyen, co-chairman of the investigating board, called this witness "a brave man."

And interesting, that this is the umpteenth time I've read that Halliburton called for 21 "centralizers" and only six were used ... with dire warnings from Halliburton over this decision by BP.

'Risk/reward equation' used in building gulf well, BP worker testifies

By David S. Hilzenrath and Joel Achenbach
Friday, August 27, 2010; 12:48 PM

A BP drilling engineer involved in the planning of the Macondo well declined to testify before a federal investigative panel Friday, invoking through his lawyer his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Mark Hafle, who was involved in some of the most heavily scrutinized decisions about the well, became the third BP employee to invoke his constitutional right not to answer questions from the panel. Hafle had testified in an earlier round of hearings.

As Friday's hearing proceeded, another BP employee who wrote one of the most widely derided e-mails to surface in investigations of the Deepwater Horizon disaster testified under oath and gave a more benign explanation of the document.

In an e-mail four days before the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling engineer Brett Cocales addressed one of the most controversial decisions in the construction of the Macondo well, saying in part, "who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine."

In the e-mail, he went on to defend the decision based on "the risk/reward equation."

Congressional investigators have cited the decision as evidence that BP might have cut corners to save time and money. Testifying before a separate federal investigative panel in Houston on Friday, Cocales said, "Those are my words."

But he said they had nothing to do with financial considerations.

Cocales said he was weighing engineering risks associated with alternative approaches, and he thought less risk was associated with the course BP took.

At the time, he said, he thought the "worst-case scenario" was that BP would have to do remediation work on the well, not that safety would be jeopardized, he testified Friday.

But he acknowledged that there "was still a risk of channeling" - a term that refers to gaps in the cement lining between the steel well pipe and the rock formation that could give gas a path to escape.

At issue was the number of devices called centralizers installed to center the pipe in the well. Halliburton, a contractor to BP, recommended 21 but BP used six. In a report to BP two days before the explosion, Halliburton warned that with as many as seven centralizers the well could have a "SEVERE" gas flow problem.

Cocales on Friday became the fourth BP employee to testify that, before the blowout, he did not read that warning.

Nonetheless, he said he was involved in efforts to get more centralizers to the rig in the days before the disaster. He said he called a supplier April 15 and asked the supplier what he could get to the well within a day.

Extra centralizers were delivered to the rig out of BP's own inventory with the supplier, but BP decided not to use them. BP officials have said they were not comfortable with the type of centralizer that arrived. They decided not to delay work to obtain other centralizers.

A lawyer for Transocean, the company that leased the rig to BP, challenged that decision Friday.

Lawyer Brad Brian asked Cocales if he had any doubt that BP, one of the largest companies in the world, could have gotten the right type of centralizers within a few days.

"I don't know that," Cocales said.

The hearing is being conducted by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, formerly known as the Minerals Management Services.

Coast Guard Capt. Hung Nguyen, co-chairman of the investigating board, thanked Cocales for testifying.

"You're a very brave man for showing up today," Nguyen said.

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Re: 'Risk/reward equation' used in building gulf well, BP worker testifies

Post by imaginethat on Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:27 pm

This appeared, briefly, on my Google news page. It's gone now....

BP internal probe finds error by own engineers led to explosion, oil spill in Gulf of Mexico: report


Monday, August 30th 2010, 9:24 AM

BP has accepted some of the blame for the deadly rig disaster that led to the worst oil spill in United States history, according to a new report.

An internal investigation reveals that the oil giant's own engineers misread data that contributed to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a source familiar with BP's probe told Bloomberg News.

As a result of the misinterpreted data on April 20, rig workers began replacing drilling fluid in the doomed well with seawater, which was too light to prevent natural gas from leaking into the well.

This led to the explosion, the report says, which killed 11 workers and ultimately spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The internal probe is one of many looking into the causes for the disaster. Other companies, including Transocean, which owned the oil rig, and Halliburton, which was working on the well prior to the blast, have also come under scrutiny. However, both companies have pointed fingers back at BP.

No oil has leaked into Gulf waters since July 15, when BP finally plugged up the well more than a month after the disaster began. The oil giant intends to officially announce the findings of its internal probe in the next 10 days

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/08/30/2010-08-30_bp_internal_probe_finds_error_by_own_engineers_led_to_explosion_oil_spill_in_gul.html#ixzz0y9OJodOc

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