Go Free Market! Go Free Market! Go!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/us/06rig.html?pagewanted=3&hpw

EXCERPTS:

“Halliburton was also on hand to provide cementing services, while a subsidiary monitored various drilling fluids. A different company provided drilling fluid systems, another provided technicians to operate the remote-control vehicles that are they eyes of the rig crew deep underwater, and yet another provided the well casing.

Amid this tangle of overlapping authority and competing interests, no one was solely responsible for ensuring the rig’s safety, and communication was a constant challenge”….

On April 1, a job log written by a Halliburton employee, Marvin Volek, warns that BP’s use of cement “was against our best practices.”

An April 18 internal Halliburton memorandum indicates that Halliburton again warned BP about its practices, this time saying that a “severe” gas flow problem would occur if the casings were not centered more carefully.

Around that same time, a BP document shows, company officials chose a type of casing with a greater risk of collapsing.

Despite noticing cementing problems, BP skipped a quality test of the cement around the pipe. Federal regulators also gave the rig a pass at several critical moments. After the rig encountered several problems, including the gas kicks and the pipe stuck in the well, the regulators did not demand a halt to the operation. Instead, they gave permission for a delay in a safety test of the blowout preventer.

An initial investigation by BP points to a range of missteps.

Tests shortly before the well blew out found a buildup of pressure that was an “indicator of a very large abnormality,” BP concluded and disclosed to Congress in a preliminary report last month. Yet, the rig team was satisfied after another test was deemed successful, and it proceeded.

About 10 hours before the explosion, the challenges of trying to keep the pressure in the well under control led to an argument among the workers about how best to finish the well and move the rig to the next site.

Douglas Brown, a Transocean mechanic on the rig, told investigators that an unnamed BP official whom he called “the company man” had instructed rig workers to execute a new plan for removing the riser and sealing the well. Mr. Brown testified that workers thought the plan was too risky. But he could not hear details of the argument that ensued.

“The company man was basically saying, ‘Well, this is how it’s going to be,’ ” Mr. Brown told investigators at a hearing on May 26 near New Orleans, adding that the Transocean rig workers “reluctantly agreed.”

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