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The Deepwater Horizon spill report - Jan 12

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The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its final report yesterday.
Link to the full report here - 16.76MB
Link to introduction here - 1.5Mb

Here are some of the initial comments and analysis:


Oil spill report: Initial analysis

Kiran Stacey, Ft Energy Source Blog
As we saw from Ed’s list of the main recommendations from the National Commission into the BP oil spill, they were pretty much what we were expecting from the overnight reports. But a few interesting pieces of information arose from the press conference.

Here, in no particular order, is what we learned:

  • Both of the co-chairs, William Reilly and Bob Graham, thought the moratorium on deepwater drilling was excessive, but this was not the view of the entire Commission
  • Drilling is going to get deeper soon. Reilly said: “We are aware of plans to go down to 10,000 feet. Macondo was at 5,000.”...

(11 January 2011)


Disregard for safety led to Deepwater Horizon spill

Bob Graham, St Petersburg Times
The worst man-made environmental disaster in the history of America began on April 20, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon, a modern drilling rig exploring for oil and gas more than 3 miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, exploded and sank two days later. • Eleven men were killed and 16 injured. Almost half a billion barrels of oil spilled into the gulf, causing incalculable damage to sea life and human life. More than $2 billion has already been spent in the effort to contain and mitigate the direct damage of the spill, and economic losses to gulf fishermen and tourism are still being calculated. It could be a decade or more before the long-term effects on the health of coastal residents and sea life can be assessed.

America's confidence in the private sector oil and gas industry was shaken. America's confidence in the capability of government to oversee an inherently risky use of public lands took another hit...

This is a wakeup call to the American people. Why are we drilling in deeper and inherently more risky offshore locations? The United States is consuming about 22 percent of the world's daily extraction of petroleum while it sits on top of less than 1.5 percent of the world's proved reserves. If we "drill baby drill" in an attempt to go totally independent, and if our thirst for petroleum continues at its current level, the United States will drain its remaining proven domestic oil reserves by 2031...
Bob Graham is the co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. He was governor of Florida from 1979-1987 and represented the state as a U.S. senator from 1987-2005.
(11 January 2011)



Panel Faults Oil Firms, Calls for Better Oversight

Tenille Tracy and Ryan Tracy, Wall Street Journal
A federal commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill said "identifiable mistakes" by BP PLC, Halliburton Co. and Transocean Ltd. led to last year's disaster, in findings that also conveyed broad concerns about oil-drilling safety.

In a widely anticipated report released Tuesday, the seven-member panel said government oversight of the industry would require "fundamental reform," including additional funding for drilling regulators, and that oil companies will need to "dramatically" step up safety practices.

The recommendations drew mixed reactions from lawmakers, whose approval will be needed to turn some of the proposals into law. That suggests a drawn-out fight is likely over what the industry should do in the wake of the rig explosion that unleashed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst U.S. offshore spill ever....
(12 January 2011)



National Oil Spill Commission Finds Right Problems, Issues Wrong Solutions

Jackie Savitz, Huffington Post
Remember that evil offshore oil deposit that went out of control last summer, blew up a drilling rig and then spewed oil and gas into the gulf of Mexico for months until the government forced the oil companies to finally stop it? Well, surprise! It turns out it wasn't the oil deposit that was out of control, it was the drilling companies. And today's National Oil Spill Commission report puts it all on the table.

Unfortunately, the Commission's recommendations don't fit its findings. Why after documenting gory detail of corporate mismanagement, missteps, miscalculations and mistakes that paint a picture reminiscent of a Three Stooges episode, would your recommendations look like they were made after a run of the mill oil leak?

Why would you opt to continue limiting liability? Shouldn't companies that cause disasters like this one be required to pay for all of the damages? ...
Jackie Savitz is Senior Campaign Director for Pollution Programs at Oceana
(11 January 2011)



Missed Opportunity: Spill Commission Rejected by Drillers

Robert Cavnar, Huffington Post
Today, the presidential oil spill commission issued its final report concluding that the blowout of BP's Macondo well was certainly preventable, was caused by identifiable mistakes made by BP and its contractors, and resulted from complacency and poor risk management--placing doubt on the safety culture of the oil and gas industry as a whole. The commission also pointed out that the regulatory agencies charged with oversight were outclassed by the industry and failed to keep up with rapidly developing technologies of deepwater exploration. The combination of these failures resulted in the BP disaster.

The commission's conclusions are surprisingly astute for a panel that had no member from the oil and gas industry. Though I don't agree with all of the panel's conclusions as to who is to blame for the catastrophe, their recognition of systemic failures and inadequacies of both safety policy and systems were spot on. However thorough the conclusions and recommendations are, though, they are of little consequence outside the world of media and Washington politics. Because the White House ignored calls for a more inclusive commission--including not just environmentalists, academics, and politicians, but representatives from the technical disciplines and the industry itself--the conclusions and recommendations of the commission have already been dismissed by those most in need of them, members of the industry itself...
Bob Cavnar, a 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry, is the author of 'Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout'.
(11 January 2011)


Editorial Notes: The pre release of Chapter 4 of the report last week meant that most of the big headlines about where blame fell had already been written. It appears that the report's most important finding is that the failures which led to the accident were "systemic" and "might well recur". With oil prices up near $100/barrel and upcoming decisions on Arctic drilling, what happens now is likely to have as much to do with the prevailing political atmosphere in Washington as with the report's recommendations. - SO

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