Today's news brings a series of reports from the Orlando Sentinel, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post that highlight several problems which may have played a role in the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that BP chose a well design that utilized a 13,293 foot long permanent casing pipe, instead of the "more commonly used" approach of employing a "liner" to supplement the casing. One "veteran deep-water engineer" estimated that "the liner design ... is more reliable and safer than a casing design by a factor of 'tenfold.'" Moreover, "it's common knowledge among drillers operating in the Gulf of Mexico that final cement jobs are rarely perfect and often badly flawed. That's a key reason ... why many ... [oil companies] rely on a liner to complete a well: It offers more options for injecting, testing and repairing cement, and so is more effective at keeping petroleum under control."

So, why didn't BP use a liner? It could be that "some site-specific factors" dictated the casing approach. Or, it could be that "it would have taken nearly a week longer for the company to finish the well," which would have cost an additional $1 million per day.

The Los Angeles Times article discusses the design that BP provided Halliburton for the cement job on the well. The article provides that "BP's encasement design called for only partial coverage of casings deep in the well. Cement did not reach the bottom of the next-largest casing in high-pressure areas." Gene Beck, an associate professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M, called this design decision "shocking." Sounds like the cement job in this instance may qualify as imperfect and "badly flawed."

Finally, the Washington Post notes that Transocean removed a "variable bore ram" on the blowout preventer of the rig and replaced it with a "test ram at BP's expense." The effect of this modification was a reduction of "'the built-in redundancy' of the blowout preventer," an act which potentially increased the risk of an uncontrolled blowout.

It seems there are shortcuts in each aspect discussed; or, as one engineer testified before Congress - "a confluence of unfortunate events."

Links to the articles are below -

Washington Post:

Los Angeles Times:,...

Orlando Sentinel:


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