Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Drill Baby Drill: We're Baaack!

Port Townsend, today. While Oil-Electric is a railroad blog, from time to time the author is compelled to insure our readers are knowledgeable about certain matters obscured, poorly reported, or flat out ignored by our impotent mainstream media. Such is the case with the resumption of deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by BP.

In the past several days, I asked friends and acquaintances how they felt about deep water drilling resuming in the Gulf of Mexico, with BP digging the hole. Nobody knew.

Not only has deep-water drilling resumed, but also the major player once again is BP. How brazen of BP. Less than a year after the Deepwater Horizon blowout snuffed 11 lives.

Noble Energy Corporation (stock ticker NBL) received approval on February 28th, to resume drilling at their Santiago Prospect. Santiago is located less than 25 miles south-southeast of the ill fated Macondo Prospect - Deepwater Horizon - site.

The Santiago Prospect is located in Mississippi Canyon Block 519. The Macondo Prospect is located in Mississippi Canyon Block 252. Each block on the map encompasses approximately 9 square miles.

The Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Ensco 8501 is a self-propelled semi submersible design similar to the Deepwater Horizon. She also uses dynamic positioning technology to maintain her drilling station, located in 6,500 feet of water. The Deepwater Horizon was working in 5,000 feet of water.

One of seven 8500 Series semi-submersible MODU's designed by Ensco International in Dallas Texas and fabricated by Keppel FELS Limited in Singapore, 8501 was launched in 2009 and carries a nominal crew of 150.

Ensco 8501 began drilling at Santiago four days before the Deepwater exploded on April 20 - a few weeks shy of a year ago. She had reached 13,585 feet when the Drilling Moratorium suspended all deep-water operations in June 2010.

Having resumed drilling operations weeks ago, Ensco 8501 has a target depth of 19,000 feet, expected by the end of May.

Aboard the Ensco 8501, Cameron International Blowout Preventers (BOP). Cameron International. You remember - the manufacturer of the allegedly flawed Deepwater Horizon Blow Out Preventer.

In their recent forensic analysis of the Deepwater BOP, the prestigious Norwegian Risk Analysis Company Det Norske Veritas (DNV), concluded:

"The blind shear rams failed to fully shut in the Macondo oil well because a portion of the drill pipe buckled and bowed from the force of the blowout and became lodged inside the blowout preventer."

[Click to read report]

The report concludes that the Cameron Blowout Preventer has an inherent design flaw, which could result in a duplication of last year's deaths and destruction. A comprehensive time line is contained in Appendix F, with the first explosion registered on page F 101.

Finally, the cast of characters. The Santiago Prospect project is composed of:
  • British Petroleum - 46.5%
  • Noble Energy - 23.25%
  • Red Willow Production Company - 20.25%
  • Houston Energy - 10%
Noble Energy, so they say, will run the day-to-day drilling operations. With the largest investment in the venture, it would be a stretch of the imagination to think that BP is not in the decision making loop!

Indeed, David L. Stover, President and CEO of Noble Energy, is a former BP vice president from September 2000 to August 2002.

Well, all we can do is pray that there is not a repeat of the deadly, financially driven, bad managerial decisions that wreaked havoc on the Gulf of Mexico.

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