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The Deepwater Horizon

You may have heard the news in the last week about the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which caught fire, burned for two days, then sank in 5,000 ft of water in the Gulf of Mexico. There are still 11 men missing, and they are not expected to be found.

The rig belongs to Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore drilling contractor. The rig was originally contracted through the year 2013 to BP and was working on BP’s Macondo exploration well when the fire broke out. The rig costs about $500,000 per day to contract. The full drilling spread, with helicopters and support vessels and other services, will cost closer to $1,000,000 per day to operate in the course of drilling for oil and gas. The rig cost about $350,000,000 to build in 2001 and would cost at least double that to replace today.

The rig represents the cutting edge of drilling technology. It is a floating rig, capable of working in up to 10,000 ft water depth. The rig is not moored; It does not use anchors because it would be too costly and too heavy to suspend this mooring load from the floating structure. Rather, a triply-redundant computer system uses satellite positioning to control powerful thrusters that keep the rig on station within a few feet of its intended location, at all times. This is called Dynamic Positioning.

The rig had apparently just finished cementing steel casing in place at depths exceeding 18,000 ft. The next operation was to suspend the well so that the rig could move to its next drilling location, the idea being that a rig would return to this well later in order to complete the work necessary to bring the well into production.

It is thought that somehow formation fluids – oil /gas – got into the wellbore and were undetected until it was too late to take action. With a floating drilling rig setup, because it moves with the waves, currents, and winds, all of the main pressure control equipment sits on the seabed – the uppermost unmoving point in the well. This pressure control equipment – the Blowout Preventers, or ‘BOP’s” as they’re called, are controlled with redundant systems from the rig. In the event of a serious emergency, there are multiple Panic Buttons to hit, and even fail-safe Deadman systems that should be automatically engaged when something of this proportion breaks out. None of them were aparently activated, suggesting that the blowout was especially swift to escalate at the surface. The flames were visible up to about 35 miles away. Not the glow – the flames. They were 200 – 300 ft high.

All of this will be investigated and it will be some months before all of the particulars are known. For now, it is enough to say that this marvel of modern technology, which had been operating with an excellent safety record, has burned up and sunk taking souls with it.

John McCain on off shore drilling. "We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. We have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions." On Monday, (April 26, 2010) the Arizona Republican told a crowd in Texas that he was abandoning his long-time support for a federal moratorium on drilling along the nation's coastlines in favor of allowing states to decide for themselves.

Sarah Palin. April, 2008. Sarah Palin, A Republican, wants to see more offshore oil drilling along America’s coastlines, a position she has held for a long time, in contrast to McCain, who only embraced offshore drilling in Summer 2008, after previously opposing it for many years. “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can't drill our way out of our problem or that more supply won't ultimately affect prices. Of course it will affect prices.”

September 23, 2009 - 7:47am BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, is urging the Minerals Management Service to expand offshore drilling, but to also pay Louisiana more to fix the damage offshore drilling has caused to the state's coast. Jindal staked out his position on offshore drilling in a letter to the MMS, which is considering a Bush-era proposal to expand offshore drilling. In the letter, Jindal said more drilling in federal waters would meet a host of needs the nation has - from creating jobs to reducing its dependency on foreign oil.

03/19/10 3:55 PM EDT RICHMOND, VA. — Intent on making Virginia a national energy power, Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is lobbying for an expansion of the 2.9 million offshore acres the government has designated for possible oil and gas exploration. McDonnell contends the offshore leasing map 50 miles off Virginia's coast should be redrawn to better reflect the state's coast and, by extension, encompass more energy reserves that ultimately could mean a bonanza for the state in royalty payments.

Here is what I would do if I were an American citizen. I would make a citizen's arrest of the following individuals. I would rush them inside a Made in Mongolia, twelve door, 3 wheel, 1941 Crapmobile, and issue each one the following items. Ten thousand bottles of "Dove" detergent, forty thousand rolls of paper towels, ten shovels from Wal Mart and fifty thousand 6 gallon metal garbage cans from K-Mart. Then I'd haul them off to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and tell them.....,

"Clean it up. You wanted more off-shore drilling. Well 'my friends' as one of you always says, here you are. Your wish came true but in the worse possible scenario. Now get all your back sides down there and don't come back until it's completely cleaned up. Yes, Mr. McCain. You have a question?"

McCain: "Ah, I flip-flopped on that subject in 2008 before the election. Can I reverse my policy on off-shore drilling now?"

Me: "Wipe that smirk off your face and get into that muck."

Me: "What is it Ms. Palin?"

Sarah Palin: "Warren, I had a terrible oil spill in Alaska. I think it was a Russian something or another called the 'Exxonsky Valdesovich'. I could see it's name from my window. I know that was the ship. Yep. It was. I've really done my share already."

Me: "Sarah. Put that blasted shotgun down, take off that stupid bikini and put this old rag outfit on. Now, pick up that shovel and tot that oil. Was there anything else I said you didn't understand Ms. Palin? Don't answer that."

Me: "You too Mr. Jindal? What's your problem?"

Jindal: "Oh, I don't have a problem. This creates more jobs than I expected for Louisiana. Look at the man power needed to clean this here mess up. Isn't it wonderful? By the way Warren, do think Obama had anything to do with helping me like this? And he's a Democrat! Man look at the Federal disaster relief money my state will get? That's what I wanted all along."

Me: "Jindal, if I wasn't a human being with scruples, I kick you right in your Louisiana crab legs. Now git!"

Food for thought.

 

With thanks to: http://wattsupwiththat.com/