Finally, some cool heads

From Upstream Online:

A gas leak on US supermajor Chevron’s Alba platform in the North Sea yesterday is under investigation.

Personnel on board the platform, 130 miles north east of Aberdeen, were called to muster yesterday afternoon around 15.00 GMT, said Chevron in a

“The 135 personnel on board at the time went to muster and all are accounted for, with no injuries. The muster was stood down by 16.15 GMT,” said the company.

“Emergency shutdown systems were activated immediately, functioned correctly.”

The company said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had been informed, and the cause of the release would be fully investigated.

Okay, so why isn’t the British press full of rage about dumbass, redneck, cowboy Americans ruining the pristine environment of the North Sea; why isn’t John Watson being hauled in front of a Parliamentary committee made up of loudmouth, lefty politicians who ask stupid questions and ridicule any answers they don’t understand; why hasn’t David Cameron gone to Aberdeen to show sympathy for those locals whose livelihoods have been affected by “American Chevron”; why isn’t the Socialist Workers Party calling for the nationalisation of Chevron’s UK assets; and why isn’t Chevron required to hand over a few billion quid for the government to distribute as they see fit?

Because unlike in Obama’s America, in the UK we believe it is better to find out what has actually happened and respond accordingly instead of shrieking hysterically, whipping up the media into a frenzy, and ramming through knee-jerk legislation.  Because, y’know, you might actually find out stuff like this:

The White House oil spill commission said today it found no evidence to support accusations that the Macondo spill happened because BP and its partners cut corners to save money.

“To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favour dollars over safety,” Reuters quoted the commission’s Chief Counsel Fred Bartlit saying at a meeting exploring the causes of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Bartlit said the panel agreed with about 90% of the findings of BP’s internal investigation of the accident released this summer.

Oh.  So that’s about 98% of BP’s critics over the summer proven wrong, then.  The remaining 2% were those with the technical nouse to understand that it was possible for BP to cock something up without necessarily being an arrogant, imperialist charicature straight from a Mel Gibson film.

Bartlit said the commission’s preliminary investigation found no evidence of this, and that it instead found that a series of factors ultimately contributed to the explosion.

Oh.  So it’s a bit more complicated than was initially made out.  Some of us knew this back in May.

Still, Bartlit emphasised that not everything done on the rig was safe. The investigating team found that BP took unnecessary risks as it tried to temporarily abandon the Macondo well.

That I can well believe.  However, at the time these risks may not have looked to be unnecessary.  Hindsight is always useful, and as I explained in this post, many of the decisions made in oil and gas are judgement calls, and those who have to make them are expected to shoulder a degree of risk and responsibility.  Somebody may have decided to take an unncessary risk, but equally he may have made a judgement without being fully aware of the risks associated with it.  It’s a fine line.

As he presented the commission’s preliminary findings, Bartlit stressed that the probe was not focused on legal liability or assigning blame.

“We’re not looking for scapegoats,” commission co-chair Bob Graham, a former US Senator from Florida, said at the start of the meeting.

No, the blaming process has already come and gone.  We all remember it well.  Now you’re the one with the cool head who’s supposed to find out what’s happened.  Shame it had to be in that order though, eh?  Still, it made it easier to keep the American companies out of the spotlight for a while, something which is now proving harder to do:

Deputy chief counsel Sam Sankar repeated the findings by a Chevron laboratory that Halliburton’s recipe for the cement slurry used at Macondo was unstable and offered evidence that Halliburton’s own tests as far back as two months before the 20 April disaster suggested the same.

“It doesn’t appear anyone highlighted this information” or that it registered with BP, Sankar ?alleged.

Halliburton are questioning the conclusions of the oil spill commission, and the reasons why the BOP failed to operate are still being investigated.  This one still has some way to go.


2 thoughts on “Finally, some cool heads

  1. I was a pretty stalwart pro-American for years, but I now wonder more and more whether, broadly, the French are right on this matter. Is it best to view the US as a blend of the infantile, the juvenile, the hysterical and the mafia? Certainly the ignorant, dim-witted hysteria over the Gulf oil-spill, combined with the xenophobic and extortionate shake-down, was something of a last straw for me.

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