By Glenn Stehle, an engineer who began working in the oil industry in 1974. After a two-year stint with Cities Service Oil Company, he worked for two years for Henry Engineering, a petroleum engineering consulting firm. Upon leaving Henry Engineering he worked as an independent engineering consultant in all facets of the oil and gas business. He has extensive experience in drilling operations. He retired in 2000 and now lives in Mexico.
Tony Hayward’s testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce was quite the hearing. Temperatures are rising and fireworks are flying.
Here’s the link to the hearings on C-Span.
An absolute MUST SEE is Steve Scalise’s (R-Louisiana) questioning of Hayward. It speaks to the BP-Obama twosome that is pitted against the people of the Gulf Coast region. It begins here at minute 01:31:30
Scalise explains how local leaders get caught in this vice between BP and the federal government, get passed back and forth between the two, with neither willing to make any decisions or approve any expenditures. Things are at a total standstill, and have been for nearly two months. Nothing moves. Nothing gets done.
Some highlights of Tony Hayward’s testimony are as follows:
1) “It’s too early to say what caused the blowout” and we “must wait for the full investigation.”
2) “There’s nothing I’ve seen in the evidence that cost was placed ahead of safety.”
3) “I have seen no evidence of reckless behavior on the part of BP.”
4) I don’t know what the “people on the rig were thinking” on April 20 when they made the fateful decisions they did. The “team on the rig,” which was made up of BP’s well supervisor, TransOcean and Halliburton personnel, made the decision not to run a cement bond log. I would be “very surprised” if BP COO Doug Suttles or managing director of BP Group Andy Inglis knew of the problems that they were experiencing on the Macondo well.
5) Every worker on the rig has “stop order authority” to shut down operations anytime they observe something unsafe going on.
6) The BOP was the “ultimate failsafe piece of equipment” that has between a 1/100,000 and 1/1,000,000 chance of failing. If the BOP had not failed, the well would not have blown out.
7) BP had some “safety issues back in 2005-2006” but “we have made major changes in last 2 or 3 years.”
8) “I was not aware of the Macondo prospect until sometime in April when I was informed that a major discovery in the Gulf had been made.”
9) I wasn’t “involved in the decision making” regarding the drilling of the well.
10) I haven’t been briefed yet on any of the operational details of the Macondo well.
11) “We are doing an extraordinary spill response.”
Various agendas being pressed by members of congress are as follows:
1) Joe Barton (R-Texas), in a switch from his “this is a not-such-an-important-thing” argument of the first hearing, this time lambasted Obama for his “$20 billion shakedown” of BP so that Obama could set up a “slush fund.” He says BP should only have to pay damages after “due process.” He said “I apologize” to Tony Hayward that BP was “shook down” in the way it was during its meeting with Obama yesterday.
2) Edward Markley (D-Massachusetts) touts the $20 billion dollar escrow fund as a huge victory for the American people. “We cannot wait,” he responds to Barton, citing how long it took following other disasters for settlements to be reached.
3) Peter Welch (D-Vermont) focused on BPs atrocious track record on safety issues.
4) John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma) warns against a “kneejerk reaction” to ban offshore drilling and also asserts we shouldn’t use this as a vehicle to “advance cap and trade” policy.
5) Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) points to the obstructionism of BP, using as example how we were told the first week that only 1000 bopd were escaping and how it has slowly increased to 60,000 bopd this week.
6) Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) argues it is the Obama administration, and not BP, that should be blamed because the administration failed to enforce “rules and oversight.”
7) Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas) blames the government and BP.
8) Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) reviews BP’s denial of the oil plumes. (Hayward denies the existence of the plumes.)
9) Everyone else seemed to be focused on finding out what caused the blowout, with most of the blame directed at BP. They focused on the five issues outlined in their letter to Hayward (see this NC post ) including: (1) the decision to use a well design with few barriers to gas flow; (2) the failure to use a sufficient number of “centralizers” to prevent channeling during the cement process; (3) the failure to run a cement bond log to evaluate the effectiveness of the cement job; (4) the failure to circulate potentially gas-bearing drilling mud out of the well; and (5) the failure to secure the wellhead with a lockdown sleeve before allowing pressure on the seal from below. BP made decisions regarding all five that saved time and cut costs but increased risk.
There’s lots of excellent questioning with a lot of overlap, but for those who are pressed for time I recommend the following to get a good sense of the tenor and substance of the hearing (part 3 in the C-Span coverage):
Congresswoman Dianna Degette (D-Colorado) which begins here at minute 00:26:30:
Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) which begins at minute 00:34:45
Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) which begins at minute 01:07:10
Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) which begins at minute 01:20:05
Jay Inslee (D-Washington) at minute 1:51:35 (also on part 3) also did a great job because he put some of the actual internal BP memos up on the overhead for people to see. For BP, it seems to me that this stuff is proof beyond any reasonable doubt of their gross (criminal?) negligence.
I hope you have time to watch these because it seems to me they really nailed the coffin shut on BP.
Why isn’t any of this stuff getting out to the public?