BP Emails: 'Who cares? It's done. End of story.'

Four days before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a BP official sent an email in reference to the potential of a well malfunction with the comment: “Who cares? It’s done. End of story” and “Will probably be fine, and we’ll get a good cement job.” 

He was responding to recommendations by Haliburton engineers that BP should install 21 centralizer mechanisms to ensure the casing ran straight into the well, but BP decided to use only six, according to ABC News.

This is one of several shards of information falling out of the Congressional investigation into the disaster and what BP officials really knew prior to the event.  In another (now public) email, a BP engineer wrote, “We have flipped design parameters around to the point I got nervous,” in reference to the high-pressure design engineering he and other engineers had been saddled with to finish the job. 

All of this seems to be indicating that BP was well aware of the dangers surrounding the Deepwater well, but pushed ahead anyway to avoid paying additional $500,000 per day overbooking fees for the rig. 

I wonder to what extent this apparent foreknowledge influenced BP officials to hightail it to Washington so quickly after the event. If these emails and other documents surfaced internally at BP, I’m certain their their legal and risk management specialists went into overdrive to make sure the company appeared as dumbstruck about the event as anyone.

And then we have this story at Mother Jones that includes comments from a survivor of the explosion which call into question BP’s version of events.  BP claims that after two failed pressure tests on the well were performed, a third test showing negative pressure was successfully completed.  But Halliburton service supervisor Christopher Haire, who helped conduct the first two tests, indicated via his lawyer that the third test never happened. Given what else we now know, it’s hard to doubt him.


2 thoughts on “BP Emails: 'Who cares? It's done. End of story.'

  1. In aviation, there is a disease among pilots known as “get-there-itis”. It causes many otherwise reasonable, well trained professionals to play down the risks of the weather, break self-imposed limits on one’s flight plan, and even fly with aircraft that are not in reasonable condition.

    The cure for this disease are contingency plans, the willingness to accept the extra expense of safety, and yes, realizing that there are worse things than being stuck on the ground waiting for repairs to be made or weather conditions to improve.

    It seems to me that the people running the show for BP had a very well known variant of “Get-There-Itis”. It is the same disease that I see at the tail end of many engineering jobs. It is the tired and expensive feeling of wanting to get-the-job-over-already.

    Clearly, those who were running this drilling job, if they were aware of the risks, had lost sight of the big picture: There are worse things than being stuck paying big money while drilling a well that needed extra work. There are worse things than failing a pressure test and having to fix the problem. MUCH worse. As the saying goes, if you think Safety is expensive, try having an Accident.

    However, while it is easy to blame the on-site engineers and managers, that is not the whole story. Executives should have recognized what the risks were; and when things aren’t going well, they should encourage the people in the field toward prudent safety practices.

    I have felt “get-there-itis” myself. It is a difficult decision to make, even when running on my own time and my own money. I have been there; flying at night, noticing that I’m about to burn in to my last hour of fuel, knowing that my intended destination was still 30 minutes away. I probably would have made it to the destination. But if anything had gone wrong, I wouldn’t have had sufficient fuel to land safely anywhere else. I ended up spending the night in a fleabag hotel instead of the more comfortable accommodations waiting for me 80 miles away.

    There are worse things…

  2. Pingback: Political Rants » 30 Outrages Spewing Forth From BP’s Gate to Hell

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