Rumor Schlumberger Exits Deep Horizon Hours Before Blowout

Posted: May 14th, 2010 by: h2

This may or may not be the story ROCKMAN referred to (read down a bit for the quotes I included towards the end of the posting) in the current oildrum Deep Horizon blowout thread.

AlanfromBigEasy on May 14, 2010 – 3:06pm Permalink | Subthread | Comments top

Story circulating in New Orleans

With appropriate caveats:

BP contracted Schlumberger (SLB) to run the Cement Bond Log (CBL) test that was the final test on the plug that was skipped. The people testifying have been very coy about mentioning this, and you’ll see why.

SLB is an extremely highly regarded (and incredibly expensive) service company. They place a high standard on safety and train their workers to shut down unsafe operations.

SLB gets out to the Deepwater Horizon to run the CBL, and they find the well still
kicking heavily, which it should not be that late in the operation. SLB orders the
“company man” (BP’s man on the scene that runs the operation) to dump kill fluid down the well and shut-in the well. The company man refuses. SLB in the very next sentence asks for a helo to take all SLB personel back to shore. The company man says there are no more helo’s scheduled for the rest of the week (translation: you’re here to do a job, now do it). SLB gets on the horn to shore, calls SLB’s corporate HQ, and gets a helo flown out there at SLB’s expense and takes all SLB personel to shore.

6 hours later, the platform explodes.

Pick your jaw up off the floor now. No CBL was run after the pressure tests because the
contractor high-tailed it out of there. If this story is true, the company man (who
survived) should go to jail for 11 counts of negligent homicide.

AlanfromBigEasy on May 14, 2010 – 8:01pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

This story did come from within the industry. I agreed to keep the source(s) confidential.


This is almost exactly what ROCKMAN was hinting out, and he further noted these guys won’t say this in public now for fear of legal reprisals, but they certainly will say it under oath.

If true, things are going to be very very bad for BP, since that makes this event not only avoidable, but deliberately done almost, at least the decision to not stop, if this report is true, was deliberate.

Keep in mind that BP was celebrating the completion with high ups at the day the blowout happened, which would give credence to the idea of the BP supervisor not wanting to stop the well just when the top brass were on the rig. Human all too human indeed…

ROCKMAN has been hinting that the causes here were human error all along, but he since his sources I assume are company insiders, he can’t say more. But this might be the explanation…

ROCKMAN on May 14, 2010 – 8:49pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

The “ordered the company” is the one part that doesn’t fit at all. No matter the disagreement a subcontractor will never order a coman to do anything. He might refuse an order or he might tell the coman to go screw himself. I seen and done both. But never gave one an order. Perhaps it was a misinterpretation. Perhaps the SLB gave the coman an ultimatum. That I’ve seen first hand a number of times.

But soon we’ll be able to judge the validity of this story. Now that the MSM has the smell of blood we should be seeing SLB in the spot light very soon. They’ll have to respond in some form. Any form of confirmation will be solid gold proof IMHO. An absolute and clear denial would offer the same. SLB would never cover-up such an event. NEVER for a variety of reasons. A “no comment” will be subject to interpretation but could make me assume some level of truth to the story

As I responded to another TODer I consider the story 100% true or an absolute lie. No room for anything in between IMHO.

[[Update]]Part of this story has now been confirmed, that is, Schlumberger was on the Rig but was sent back 11 hours before it blew.

However, this is still early in the information phase, and as nola notes:

BP spokesmen did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the decision to send Schlumberger home without conducting a cement bond log or on the cementing schematic Probert gave the Senate committee. And Halliburton didn’t respond to questions about the accuracy of Probert’s diagram.

Since the original story was probably either partly untrue, totally true, or partly true, we’ll have to wait a bit more to get the actual details.

One thing however worth noting, ROCKMAN when discussing a rumor he’d heard but would not himself reveal, stated that it was unlikely you’d hear the truth until the actual parties were under oath, in court, for what should hopefully be somewhat obvious reasons.

So keep a watch on this one, but really, the 60 minutes expose on BP safety, or rather lack of safety, practices, is in a sense all you really need. This Schlumberger story, while interesting, is just a side-note, though I admit to wondering about it, it has a ring of truth to my ears, and I think the guy who leaked it was told it by an insider, with much better information than this new story of May 19. We shall see.

Overall it’s not looking very good for BP legally though. Hopefully the top kill will work this Sunday, this blowout is too severe to engage in any type of schadenfreude, this is a significant part of the planet’s ecosystem under attack by our insatiable desire for more consumption, more people, more driving, at any price… sad really to watch as a world sucks itself dry in a desperate attempt to achieve… what exactly?

86 Responses to “Rumor Schlumberger Exits Deep Horizon Hours Before Blowout”

  1. ex la res says:

    Look at , this “story” is now out in the open

  2. h-1 says:

    Just a quick note, I updated the original posting, but the story I found on nola is merely the minimal that can be stated, which is pretty much exactly what ROCKMAN said would be the case. Note however that that presence of Schlumberger employees was confirmed, as was their departure the day of the blowout, which in my view lends some creedence to the rest of the story, especially given that the rest was basically not commented on by BP in this article. We’d need to hear from Schlumberger itself, in court, before we will know the rest. Although an enterprising reporter might be able to dig up a bit more I’d guess if journalism is still an occupation. The nola story was however sadly lacking in details, and was basically just repeating something BP told someone, ie, it’s not really anything more than a pr exercise at this point. Not to say anything is true or false, we simply as of yet do not have any real information , unless you consider the entity, BP, who engaged in repeated safety violations, lobbied to have regulations removed or not enforced, etc, a reliable source. Sadly, given their interest in minimizing any possible negative PR, I’d have to give them very little credibility at this point.

    However, I’ve read that Alan guy for years, he’s pretty serious, and it was very obvious someone inside somewhere gave him that story, if only to start the process of opening up the complete thing before too much spin and corporate PR damage control kicks in.

  3. Oilfield Trash says:

    I work in the oilfield service industry that rents equipment to Oil and Gas producers. We do work for majors (not BP) through the Schlumbergers, Halliburtons, Baker OT, BJ Services, etc.

    We had heard through the grapevine the day following the Horizon explosion that Schlumberger had hands that were “crew changed” hours before the explosion. After reading the chain of events regarding this, we suspect the Schlumberger man may have been practicing a procedure known as “Stop Work Authority”. And what this means is that ANY rig hand (employee or contractor) who sees a potential threat to life, limb or rig safety can initiate a Stop Work Authority. The proper response would be to shut down the related operation and asses it completely until a viable resolution is fulfilled. There are some Oil & Gas companies that award contractors for practicing this procedure.

    But good luck in finding other cases on this as the oilfield is a tight-knit community and service companies can be black-balled severely to where they wouldn’t get work from any major service company or oil & gas producer. That is the reality of the industry.

  4. h-1 says:

    A few updates: Schlumberger has made a statement

    The company, which had not previously revealed its work on the Horizon, said in an emailed statement that it performed wireline services for BP Plc on the rig in March and April, completing the last services on April 15 and leaving a crew on standby in case any more were needed.

”On the morning of April 20, 2010, BP notified the Schlumberger crew that it could return to its home base in Louisiana,” Schlumberger said in a statement, which a spokesman for the company confirmed by phone.

The crew departed the rig at about 11:00 a.m. on April 20 on one of BP’s regularly scheduled helicopter flights, Schlumberger said.

    And here from nofa again:

    Probert (of Halliburton) told a Senate committee last week that the cement bond log is “the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness of the bond between the cement sheets, the formation and the casing itself.”

    Gregory McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, called the cement bond log the “gold standard” of cement tests. It records detailed, 360-degree representations of the well and can show where the cement isn’t adhering fully to the casing and where there may be paths for gas or oil to get into the hole.

    Schlumberger’s Harris said the contractor was ready to do any such wireline tests, but was never directed to do so. The team had finished doing tests on the subsea layers of earth being drilled five days earlier and hadn’t done any work since, Harris said.

    So in a sense, this report is neither confirmed or denied, but more details will probably come out soon.

    Thanks for your input Oilfield Trash, my guess is that people who actually work around this industry and actually see the real, non-theoretical practices of real oil companies and service companies are best qualified to determine if the story sounds true or of it’s probably overblown.

    However, the blowout itself is the real problem here, given the enormity, the repercussions should be fairly major, though from what I gather, essentially most of the regulations required are already in place globally, they just have to be followed and enforced, in other words, oil companies will need to understand that even in cases where they have political access, as they did with the Bush administration, it might be prudent to resist the temptation to try to manipulate regulations for short term profits and faster development.

    The massive costs of this particular spill should help motivate such changes.

  5. h-1 says:

    This sums up the current state of knowledge, from the current discussion thread in

    ROCKMAN on May 20, 2010 – 11:47am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

    I didn’t want to offer some inside information until SLB made a statement. My source confirmed that the dispatcher had transported a total of 23 (or 26) hands back in from the rig that afternoon including the Schlumberger loggers. Normal procedure at this point of the operation: as I said earlier at this point it’s a big rush to pack up and get on the boat (or chopper). Hands fly and equipment goes by boat.

    OTHO did the SLB express concerns to the company man about hole conditions? Do know. Was the lead SLB engineer concerned about the safety of his crew? Don’t know. But eventually all the hands on board will be questioned under oath and state exactly what their thoughts were on all subject matters the day of the blow out. For obvious legal reasons I wouldn’t expect such statements to come out from any source until folks are sworn in.

  6. TokyoTom says:

    “For obvious legal reasons I wouldn’t expect such statements to come out from any source until folks are sworn in. ”

    I think ROCKMAN means not “For legal reasons” but “Out of concerns for job reprisals”. People may feel less fear of reprisal if they wait until they order ordered to talk by a court of law, but even then we don’t know. The industry could stick blacklist employees who “talk too much”.

    Nothing but fear of losing one’s job prevents anyone from talking now.

  7. Hello says:

    See, its very easy to spread these kind of rumours on such a big events. Anybody who is even little bit aware of technicality involved in drilling/logging process and following the events and consequences of that BIG incident, would definitely ask for CBL records as a very first document to invensitgate how was the cement job to isolate and secure the oil well. As far as ‘SLB personnel leaving the rig before blowout’ is concerned, anybody who knows the working style of service companies like SLB, can understand how sudden a call out for other job comes and requires to mobilise personnel to other location/rig. This looks just a routined call out to me or may be a regular crew mobilization as the forward plan was to abondoned the well and move the rig to next location (if anything like this really happened). And believe me, if this was the case, BP would have faced svere consequences by now and there would not have any need for all involved CEOs to testify before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. There is so much going on and so many highly experienced and expertise working day and nights to find the root cause of this horrible and larming incident in oil industry. No offenses but this story is good enough for gossips over a tea and that is just for people who are curious to know how oilfield works and what exactly happened that night.

  8. h-1 says:

    Tokyo, agreed, that is the obvious implication. However, the remainder of this particular part of the story may take some time to unfold completely. In other words, as noted, some parts may only come out under oath, for such reasons. Not just job, but the overall policy of maintaining relations between very large business entities. That’s where I’d see the real issues of blacklists etc happening, though I doubt anyone is going to blacklist Schlumberger, but there are I’m sure many unwritten rules about such matters.

  9. h-1 says:

    Hello, I believe those severe consequences are starting to occur.

    Ed Markey, who leads a House subcommittee investigating the disaster, told reporters, “I think now we are beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP.”

    The Obama administration announced Thursday that it has ordered BP to release all data related to the massive spill, including environmental sampling analyses, internal investigation reports and details of the cleanup effort.
    “People do not trust the experts any longer,” said Markey, D-Massachusetts. “BP has lost all credibility. Now the decisions will have to be made by others, because it is clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill.”
    Salazar announced Wednesday that he was dividing the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which regulates oil exploration, into three divisions. The agency has come under fire since long before the spill, and Salzar said it would be reorganized to separate what he called the conflicting duties of regulating oil companies and collecting royalties from them.

    “We inherited here what was a legacy of an agency that essentially was rubber-stamping whatever it was that the oil and gas industry wanted,” Salazar said. “We have been on a reform agenda from Day One.”

    So things are actually unfolding quite rapidly, but this direct Bush/Oil industry connection, which was always of course an open non-secret, is going to expose some issues about choices the oil industry made which are going to be quite difficult to justify given their massively swollen profits over the last few years. In other words, trying to save the cost of some of those regulations they avoided is not going to be an easy sell from a company pulling in multiple billions of dollars of profit per quarter. I think this is going to cause them some long term damage that may make them re-evaluate the wisdom of linking so closely to the regulatory agencies, or rather, dismantling them in favor of that mythical ‘industry self-regulation’ that always seems to result in we, the taxpayers, bailing out and cleaning up and living with the long term costs.

    But no offense, this story did not result from gossips over tea, it was and partially still is a report from one insider to another, but lacked complete verification. As ROCKMAN stated when he hinted about this issue, this story would turn out to be either all true or completely false. We won’t know this for a fact until the key person, the one who either did or did not recommend shutting down the well, is interviewed under oath.

    But again, this really doesn’t matter, I view this is as a side issue, merely one possible thread that has actually resulted in closer and closer examination of the BP corporate entity, and that examination is not helping, especially as it spreads to other massively complex deep water rigs, and the safety issues that are apparently quite possibly even more in violation than in DeepWater Horizon blowout.

    I’m going to follow this story as it unfolds further for a bit, but I’m guessing even bigger stuff is going to come out, it already is, the first hand testimony about the broken rubber seal material in the drilling mud for example is not helping BP very much. So we’ll see how it goes. The real benefit of this all is to force a serious re-evaluation of deep sea drilling safety, in other words, it was being sold as safe, relatively, but it’s obviously not. Especially not when in the hands of companies run by human beings, prone to such classic weaknesses as greed, hubris, and the rest of the old cardinal sins… that weakness has to be taken into account as well when creating proper regulations, obviously as both Wall street and various mishaps in complex drilling operations show, you can never trust the regulatee to be the regulator, or to create the policies by undue influence.

  10. Logger says:

    Ignorance is showing in this blog….. If the well was kicking, meaning gas was coming up hole, a CBL log would be worthless, gold standard or not (which is a joke because if it were true that they had displaced the drilling mud with brine/salt water as reported, the bond log would be worthless, as well, unless they pressured up on the casing… which wasn’t holding pressure….).
    Gas in the wellbore kills the bond log signal because it must have liquid for the signal to pass from the tool to the cement and back again. If they sent the SLB crew in before the blowout, it would make sense. The co-man should have known that the bond log would be worthless (or been informed by the engineer) until such time as the well was dead. Since there was influx of gas, he should also know it would be several hours before he could run a bond log, assuming he was going to try and fix the leak. If he really had displaced the mud before the log, running a bond log was a questionable decision.
    All that said, the better tool to run would have been an ultrasonic bond log, which still must be run in fluid but will give a valid measurement when the fluid has been changed from mud to brine. WAY TOO MUCH physics to explain this in a blog but wanted to add a few reasonable comments.

  11. h-1 says:

    Logger, not so much ignorance as merely watching a massively disruptive event unfold in real time, trying to figure out what’s what as it does so. Obviously, speaking for myself, I know I’m not an oil field guy who knows this stuff from the inside, and I hope I’m not promoting any illusion that I am, but the initial rumor did come from insiders, that’s why I put it up. Not as truth, just as a possible thing worth checking out. It’s looking like that might have been a dead end, though the investigations are ongoing into the original situation.

    All intelligent comments, such as yours, are totally welcome, especially when they help clarify the issue for readers, and contain valuable information.

    One group of people I’ve come to really respect during the past month, and especially the past month with this blowout, has been the oil field guys, the engineers, the loggers, everyone. I have seen almost no BS put out by them, they seem to be totally reasonable types, not defensive, not underplaying, just very concerned, at least the ones I follow in the oil drum are like that.

    If you want, feel free to explain the basic physics, and just assume at least a few people here are actually interested.

    By the way, what do you think of one of the guys taking the 5th the other day rather than testifying, at the same time another guy cited a ‘medical condition’ to avoid testimony. I think those were BP guys, not sure.

  12. Those MF company men believe that they are fully acknowledge to do any thing, w/o receive a suggestion or opinion of other, That´s bullshit think that those arrogant men (Those are) stay in that relevant position to decide for life of inocents.

    Send that mother fucker to jail, that is he deserves..!!

  13. Kinja Rules says:

    Exactly why aren’t they burning this off? If anyone knows, please submit. Hay + Fire = Less Mess.

    Also, what of the Other…Leak?

    I realize that no one wanted this Disaster, but now that we are here. Logic & Immediate Action by the US NAVY seems the right course. In all Truth, this should have been done immediately…Let BP attempt to fix the FUBAR, but Deploy ALL ships in the area to on an AMERICAN Problem. We have the hands, now lets get them on deck.

    If the US lets BP handle this alone, they can realistically only handle part of the problem. If the US doesn’t move Quick, before Hurricane Season. We may lose the Gulf for 6yrs +
    If the US gets hit in the Belly, we will be a lose of 15-20% of GDP. Its logical.
    Recovery? What Recovery…
    These Ports that take our goods out & imported goods in will have issues as well.
    Will BP pay the Welfare Checks to the Millions who are affected?

    Screw the Greens, BURN IT while it is out @ sea. For God Sake the Old Farts aren’t Stupid! If they wanted to clean it up before it hit shore, they would. The Environmental impact is far worse this way. But, it has Shock Value…

    So ask yourself: Why, isn’t this being done? Maybe b/c it will be far easier to Force the Global Cap & Trade. They have renamed it now…Still the same, a Tax on everything you do, eat or breath.

    People can Talk about things forever, but my Father who climbed a burning derek in the 30’s to put out a fire, would have been out there in boat w/a few 100 rags. I’m thinking low tech.

  14. Logger says:

    H-1, thanks. Ignorance isn’t stupidity, and wasn’t meant to be an insult. Ignorance is lack of knowledge. Since I’ve “been there and done that” obvious misquotes/misstatements, not so obvious to others, needed a few points of clarification so I figured I would add my insight.
    As for the physics, not really worth the time it would take just know that there would be issues trying to get a bond log. The “gold standard” statement was humorous. Shows his ignorance.
    As for taking the 5th, stupid. Answer the questions and figure it out so it doesn’t happen again. Does that response EVER absolve you of blame? It automatically makes you guilty. Remember Mark McGuire. Nor does lying, remember Roger Clements….
    Co-men on the rig are often a pain. I’ve had my share of run ins but in general, those on this large an operation are well trained and knowledgeable. Even so, people make mistakes.
    Lastly, someone asked me today if more regulations were needed. Maybe but regulations don’t stop bad things from happening, they just give you someone to blame when they do. There are sufficient regulations in place that should have stopped this but someone, whether they were with BP, TransOcean, or Haliburton, made a poor decision without considering the consequences if he was wrong. I doubt seriously that anyone around that well or on shore ever thought this was a remote possibility.
    They were obviously wrong.

  15. h-1 says:

    Kinja, they did burn as much as they could gather. It’s useful to actually investigate these things before posting comments.

    Gregor, sorry, pure anger isn’t particularly useful if we want to a: fix this problem and b: avoid it in the future. I suggest a good place to start is to stop driving personally. Unwillingness to stop driving + extreme anger at oil companies who provide the fuel that powers the cars we drive has to be about the height of illogical thinking. Not saying you are a: angry and b: a driver, but that is a description that fits most people in the USA who oppose oil production while driving oil consuming vehicles.

    Logger, I’m going to guess that BP was pushing to get the well done, especially with the BP high-ups on the rig at the time it blew. And there was certainly direct lobbying to remove the application of existing regulations, lobbying which the Bush Whitehouse was very open to. So it’s not just going to prove to be one or two people’s negligence at work here, this is going to go up the chain, and fixing it will require renewing the autonomy of the regulatory agencies that were denatured during the Bush years. Sorry to bring politics in, but that’s reality, can’t ignore it because we don’t like it.

    I agree taking the 5th was stupid, but unfortunately, either he is facing criminal action, which is what taking the 5th is for, or he has agreed to take it in order to protect BP, for some future reward. We won’t know the details for a while, as you correctly noted, in the example of dopers in sports, it takes a while for the entire story to get out. (But Lance Armstrong is still getting away with it, grrr…)

    I strongly urge anyone considering a vote for the Republican party who lives along the Gulf Coast in the future to give serious thought to exactly which party might protect your coasts/gulf waters a bit better than the other before dropping your ballot in the next elections. And if you vote for the wrong one, please remember that next time you see black beaches and dead sea birds washing up on shore, and a fishing industry laid to waste, workers out of jobs. But hey, that’s OK, we got our taxes cut, so no problem, hmm?

  16. Richard Hergenreter says:

    I have read numerous “Engineer” comments throughout several sites. It is amazing how proclaimed Engineers and Professionals are tossing out figures as to the BP well’s total depth from seafloor (mudline hangar, water depth, mud weights etc. I caught many items that can be proved to be innacurate. comments can be proved to be gossip and heresay.It is not BP data. I have been the Oil and gas Drilling and Production operations for 42 years in 16 states and offshore. I think I have an idea and picture wnat had occured in the total process leading to the blowout, however, if one watches the last 72 hours of C-SPAN, they will see that the testimony given to the MMS at the airport in Kenner , La. starts to “connect the dots” pretty well. The media and their controlled specialists are ignorant of the processes and border on manufactured untruths! hydraulics and pneumatics are sciences that are very sensitive to accuracy.

  17. Howard Ratcliffe says:

    Earth Day 2010, BOP fails in multiple ways, state of the art rig sinks due to methane/oil fires nowhere near the temperature needed to buckle steel, no relief well drilled making the only realistic way to cap the well with a tactical nuclear device 3 months out. Methane expanding 12,000 fold in the pipe and a 1000 fold at the well head oxidizing all the way to the surface; Corexit and Benzene entering convective air currents. Seems to me people are fiddling while Rome burns.

  18. Roland says:

    Butch,, I also am an engineer, though I do not work in the Petroleum field. Great idea, but I have a few questions. If this rocket like device is wedged in the pipe bore and the bore is sealed, could the pressure build up enough to exert sufficient force on the sidewall of the pipe to burst it? Would it not be better to insert another smaller pipe section concentric and welded in the central portion of the rocket, to collect the oil and gas. This would relieve some of the the pressure. This smaller pipe to be connected to a pipe reaching the surface. Also, what about reports that the well casing is leaking gas on the outside?

  19. Me says:

    I have spent the last little while reading the comments and the article. Great article by the way.

    I have been in the Oil and Gas industry for all of my adult life mostly in directional drilling and engineering. Whoever thinks you can’t “order” company men to do something is lacking in knowledge. I, myself, personally have ordered company men to do something based on my knowledge and based on what my “expertise” is which is directional drilling. Company men don’t know everything and aren’t the king of the patch as some might think. If the oil and gas company could do it all then they would have no reason to hire service companies like SLB, Halliburton, Baker, etc for certain applications. I read a comment that said “service companies like SLB can get a job and they have to leave” that is untrue. If SLB is contracted to do a job say on the Deepwater Horizon they’re there until the job is done. Period end of story. I happen to work for one such company and we’re at the rig both onshore and offshore until the job is done. SLB has a policy that if they feel things are unsafe they can and will leave the job without notice. I work for SLB and can tell you from first hand knowledge of what we were doing on the DWH that management at SLB told the crew and I quote “We’re done with that job whether it’s completed or not, we don’t want our fingerprints on it when something bad happens because of John Wayne”. Take it for what it’s worth. When all is said and done BP and the engineer/co-man will be standing alone. Decisions were made on that platform that shouldn’t have EVER been made and some great people lost their lives because of it.

  20. h-1 says:

    Me, interesting comments, much appreciated. That sounds like a good fit with the rest of the story that has come out over the least few weeks.

  21. maulupe says:

    Only a remark,
    after reading the post of “Me”, I directed to Schlumberger site,
    being in the field of electronic analysis for a life,
    I’m thinking they left platform for a good reason,
    they, along with their expertise cannot fail diagnosis.
    Now, when Shlumberger testifies, will be evident who was responsible of that FAILURE,
    and send all oil industry to hell,
    I’ll hope someone take this advice and buy/support them (shares).
    As for the solution of “this”, well I don’t mix in,
    I’m only thinking that “they, that could do”, and have not done will be thinking after that.
    I’m not a catastrophist, but the implications to this accidents deserves a separate thread.
    My 2 cents.

  22. maulupe says:

    All being said,
    more than 100 peoples aboard of the rig,
    noone knows the name of the “mythical” BP-man that directed this mess ?

  23. h-1 says:

    adtomeus, your comments aren’t particularly on-topic either, and have been deleted, there’s other postings here about the current status of the blowout, check those and pick one more appropriate.

    maulupe, I’m sure lots of people know a lot of things, some of those people are probably now testifying, others refused to testify or said they were too sick to do so. Just because a blog or two doesn’t know information doesn’t mean the information isn’t known.

  24. Daniel N. says:

    This thread is great! I work for an independent oil company and I heard this story a few weeks ago. I was looking on oil-drum to find an article on it this and couldn’t find it. I stumbled on this and it’s great.

    I cannot believe that they would skip the cement bond log. Why on earth would they make an epic mistake such as that with all the money riding on it? not to mention the safety of the crew.

  25. Andy Williams says:

    The key to the whole story will come form the eventual testimony from the SLB engineer. If he or she testifies that no CBL was carried out – despite a requirement to do this – and that they did indeed refuse to play any futher part in the well ops, then the BP Co Man is hung.

    It will be nothing less than ‘just desserts’ for BP. They have a fancy, OTT management system and spend a small fortune each year on image and repiutation but those of us who have done plenty of work for BP over the years know that their Co Men are the worst for cutting corners and not playing by the rules on the quiet.

    If an example of the arrogance that prevails in the BP culture, check out Tony Hayward immediately trying to shift ALL the blame onto Transocean.

    Well Mr Hayward, we all know that the toolpusher does nothing related to the well program critical path on a drilling rig without the Co Man’s approval.

    Think Obama sees it that way too. The game is up for cocky BP.

  26. Gil says:

    My thanks to H1 for his thoughtful comments. One feels a little less stupid after reading him.

  27. chris alexander says:

    Having worked all over the world as a consultant both on & offshore I feel the “cowboy” antics of the company man thinking he is god led to this disaster. Seen it before but as we all know, you’re a** is usually on the next chopper and you’ll not been seen again on that rig if you try and go against OIM’s, company men etc.
    It’s all wrong and I applaude Schlumberger taking a stand and getting all their hands off the rig.
    Schlumberger now have a moral obligation to the 11 men and their families to blow the lid off of this, what I can only see as ignorance and small mindedness of the company man, Transocean and the higher management group.
    Let’s not loose fucus though. The rig manager could have stopped all this from happening.

  28. john S says:

    I would just like to say to the public,who have no idea about this dangerous industry,
    that unfortunately the industry is full of wankers,control freaks,who sometimes believe they are god and have the attitude you will obey me!!!! because in the real world they cannot get a job,have qualifications to work at burger king…why are they in the oil and gas industry $$$$ being paid big for Transocean safety first policy when it suits them company man says jump oim says how high,makes me sick people with no balls to stand up,result guys paying the ultimate price for fuck all !!!! the whole industry stinks think twice about working in it,as your life is in the hands of people who think dollars first,as soon as downtime comes into it safety goes out the window hurry up what’s taking you so long $$800 a minute this is costing us….RIP DWH

  29. Oilhand says:

    Sorry all,

    Schlumberger would not be out there to run a CBL on a cement plug… that is not the purpose of a cement bond log. It logs primary cement only. But good luck. Poor rumor… there is no meat to this story. During the day of the blow-out SLB would have been leaving the rig anyway, their work was done, and they needed the room on the rig for others. I worked for SLB for 7 years and I cannot support the above claim “SLB is an extremely highly regarded (and incredibly expensive) service company. They place a high standard on safety and train their workers to shut down unsafe operations”…. I wish that were true…

  30. wayne callihoo says:

    I am a drilling consultant and have been for 15 years. I have worked offshore and on land and i cannot belive the arrogance of BP this is there fault and the fault of the company man out there. Its time that they start hiring people that can get the job done safely

  31. h-1 says:

    I want to thank all of you for your thoughtful inputs here. Ideally we could all sit in a room and discuss our views in real time, but hopefully you can see the different views presented as different sides of the same coin, the trick is to see what the coin is. For example, if Me here is honest and is who he says he is, and has heard what he says he has heard, and works for who he says he works for, that’s a pretty serious situation.

    By the way, one thing I learned over the years in my own field was that people who worked for companies often were not the best sources for information on that company, for the simple reason that corporate culture is strong, and hard to push against. Unless, of course, you see some dead bodies and seas of oil spewing out over the Gulf, that might be sort of irksome.

    So it’s nice to see different views coming from various insiders here, who are familiar with the pieces they deal with, I for one thought first this rumor was false, after reading some of the stuff that came out, but I’m not convinced of that anymore. To me, one Me, if he’s telling the truth, trumps someone else who simply wasn’t privy to that particular story. These are big companies, nobody can know everything, and sometimes in companies, you don’t want to know, it’s not good for your careers. Not saying that’s the case here, just noting that’s a reality of working in any large industries, well, any at all I guess.

    Personally, however, re the blaming any one individual, I’m not going that route, I think this stuff is too complicated, what if that guy had to pull this well in fast to ensure that he didn’t get fired or demoted, what if BP was pushing him? What if he’d closed down a well early before and he knew if he did it again he might lose his position? There’s so much going on behind the scenes that is real and human, and the bottom line is what drives all companies, no matter what or who, that can’t be discounted at all.

    But I want to say I really appreciate all of your views, you are doing the readers of this thread a great service by offering intelligent personal perspectives based on your personal experiences and conclusions, and I don’t care if you contradict each other in those conclusions, I think it’s really great that people get to see what the different ways you guys have of seeing and understanding this, it’s a huge service to this question. So thanks to everyone who took the time to post their views, their best understanding, or what they have personally heard.

    I admit to having a bias, I prefer the direct report of what you have heard over a generalized view of what you believe is or should be the case, that comes from watching a few friends get eaten up by the corporate sector until talking to them was like talking to the home page of their employer’s website, but that’s an old story and I am not suggesting people here are doing that, it’s just something I noticed long ago as a danger when you work together with people in an intense environment.

  32. Oilfield Trash says:

    Remember that Schlumberger still owns 49% of Transocean, comes from the Sedco days

  33. zeus says:

    I find this story very hard to believe. I think it was just coincidence that the Schlumberger Crew had finished the Program and because they had displaced the Mud with Brine, a CBL was not possible, so they pissed the crew off to make bed space and to save them paying Crew Charges for another Day. There are several reasons. 1: I have never met or worked under a Schlumberger Engineer who would have had the Balls to Question The Company Man of such a large Client. 2: I have never met or worked under a Schlumberger Manager that would listen to his Crew, or go in to bat for his Crew against the Company Man of one of his Major Clients. 3: There is no way that the Schlumbeger Manager would pay for the Crew to come home from the Rig. These people are Tighter than a Fish’s Arsehole. I have worked in the Oil and Gas industry for 21 Years. 19 of those Years were Offshore, and 17 Years were with Schlumberger as a Wireline Crew Chief. I may be wrong, but it all sounds a like a bit of a”conspircy theroy” story.

  34. h-1 says:

    All your points are well taken, and well put I might add.

    However, just to clarify, while this may or may not be a false rumor, it was definitely not a conspiracy theory, it was a story told by one insider to another that he wanted to put out here, but it was never claimed to be fact, it always required verification. I’m familiar with the styles of some of the people involved, and they aren’t prone to conspiracy or babble, just concern about this problem, and wanting to get to the truth of what really happened as quickly as possible.

    What I find fascinating is the widely diverse views people in this thread alone, almost all of whom, by the way, I believe are correct with regards to their experience and views. The range of those views is really fascinating. Oil industry work sounds like an extremely interesting world, I certainly have enjoyed reading the thoughts of every single person who has posted their views on this question (well, except the ones I deleted because they were off-topic or just didn’t really contribute much information), they strike me as overall very sane, even if the perspectives show different sides of the world in almost every case.

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for still having this up. I had seen it elsewhere, but when I went back, it had been scrubbed. Somebody doesn’t want this information out.

  36. The more info the more sense it makes, earlier when it was mentioned that chunks of Annular rubber had come to surface and were brushed off as a common occurance by the rig crew. When it was observed by an IT guy that the joy stick had been nudged inadvertently with a resulting ~250 K overpull through the Annular rubber which I suspect to be stiff due to the surrounding temprature causing it to break up in bits & chunks did not allow the packer to be set after landing the liner and cementing the liner string. To set the packer would require pressuring up on the backside and if the Annular element were damaged this would be difficult unless Pipe rams or the VBRs were shut so it would appear that the packer was never set properly allowing hydro carbons to find a way into the anulus and breech to surface.

  37. eddytheeagle says:

    Recently retired after 33 years offhore in a supervisory position.

    Some very interesting and well informed comments.
    I would like to focus on the “company man” a man hired by the oil company to oversee the drilling contractor. In my experiance,and I have worked closley with a large number,they range from first class proffesionals to complete assholes with vastly different backgrounds (ex mudmen,mudloggers,toolpushers and more). generaly speaking they are the head man,they call the shots and answer only to shore based managment. Obviously they have to work with the rig crew (OIM/marine etc) and the numerous service companies one of which may often be Schlumberger (ger pronounced as a J if you please !) If the drilling program called for a CBL and they did not run it and or the casing cement job was suspect then I could see onboard dissusions with the schlum engineer but I cant realy envisage him “ordering” the company man to do anything.

    If the company man was deliberatly cutting corners (and its a big IF) then he should be put up against a wall and shot.

  38. Walter says:

    Thanks for this site: excellent news & views!
    For me one of the questions remains: Why did the BOP not work?

  39. CBL Logger says:

    I’ve ran CBL logs for years but only onshore. I have never run a log off a drill rig, and I have never run a log in Drill Mud. Onshore the process goes typically that the well is drilled, the casing ran, and on the bottom of the casing is a, ‘Check Valve’ that does not allow any fluid in. The casing is filled with cement, and a wiper plug is pumped down that is the ID of the casing, and the cement, “U Tubes” around the backside of the casing filling in the gap between the Casing and cement. On deeper wells it is difficult to get cement all the way to surface on the backside, so they run stage tools. These stage tools can be shifted, and ran about half way down the depth of the well. So you would cement the bottom section typically using Grade “G” cement, which is very strong, and can contain your zone pressure better. Then on the next stage you would pump a lighter cement that is not as strong, but has a better chance of making it up the well bore. This cement is typically [Gasified] cement[Nitrogen].

    A CBL sends a signal from a transmitter at a frequency of 20KHz. This is the frequency that pipe resonates at. It’s much the same as hitting a bell, the frequency given off would be roughly 20KHz. The tool in essence, ‘TICKS’ and this sound travels through the fluid in the wellbore, through the pipe, and through the formation and then back to a set of receivers on the tool, typically 3 and 5 foot distance away from the transmission. From this we can tell the, “BOND” of the pipe. Again much like a bell if you have nothing on the backside and RING the bell, the sound will travel, and have a certain frequency and pitch when it reaches the receiver, which in this case would be your ear. But if you incase that same bell in cement and ring it you will receive the sound to your ear of a, ‘Thud’.

    Same concept as a CBL. We also have tools that have pads. Baker where I used to work tool was called an SBT. The SBT pads would not look past the pipe, and only send the signal millimeters into the pipe and receive the signal back to the pad maybe a foot away. What this eliminates is the two things :
    Fast Formation : Where the formation is actually so hard{dolomite or a limestone) that it is basically a Glass Material, and your signal actually travels faster in it then pipe, so instead of a pipe signal you get a Formation signal returning which is not going to be reliable, and cannot be used.
    Gasified Cement : Also w/ gassified cement on the backside the, ‘gas pockets’ slow the signal of the sound wave, and can give you a reading of poor bond, when infact the bond is quite good.

    So again on land based operations the Drill Rig would drill, and then run casing, and then pump cement. That is it…They do not drill out the cement plugs, they leave to go to another well. A Service rig, comes onto the well, and drills out the cement plugs that are in the casing due to the cementing of the backside, @ the stage tools, and at the bottom of the well perhaps if the cement did not go as planned and they do not have the, ‘cellar’ needed to complete the well.

    But again unless they do things quite differently onshore, it sounds like this was the step they were @ for moving the rig off the hole, and having the completion rig move on.

    The well may have been a barefoot completion, would which mean there was no casing and then just Open Hole below but I do not know. But either way I’m sure they do things quite differently onshore then off, but the wells onshore I’ve dealt with have pressures upwards of 4000 lbs, and 30% sour H2S. And I know for a fact the only well control inbetween moving the drill rig off and putting the Service Rig on is nothing more than a plastic cap over a chunk of pipe coming out of the ground. Wells don’t just come in like this to the best of my knowledge. If you’re going to have a blowout it should be during the drilling phase. And to have completed multiple Plugs, and cement jobs on this well prior to it blowing out is unheard of. It does not happen, so I believe they have tapped into something they cannot control. The pressure must have been so great to collapse the Casing and the cement let go, which again DOES NOT HAPPEN.

    If you watched the hearings of the three executives from BP, Transocean, and Halliburton you will have heard the Transocean guy who has nothing and everything lose and everything to gain from pinning it on BP, as saying to the cause of this accident, “It had to have been a catastrophic failure of the, “CASING AND CEMENT”!!!!

    People wells don’t just spring to life like this, they have to be brought in by the used of explosives, which is what is used to penetrate the pipe and into the zone. Shaped charges that are designed to penetrate deep into the formation. If this cement and casing just failed as the Transocean guy predicts this it WAY OUT OF THE NORMAL…

    Hope this helps.

  40. Mike says:

    Logger, things are a little different OS. They would have cemented the casing through the shoe and up the back side to a pre-determined height behind the casing but not back to surface.
    Then they would RIH and drill out the shoe. Given that they were quite deep then, making some assumptions here, they had run 10 3/4 – 9 5/8 mixed string to support the weight, cemented that in place, run in and drilled out something like 8 1/2″ hole through the reservoir then run a 7″ liner which would be hung off inside the 9 5/8 casing and a packer set to isolate the reservoir form the casing or cement the liner in place and set a packer depends on formation, well plan etc.
    At any stage you would know whether or not you had any problems. If after the casing was set and cemented you could tell, prior to setting the seal assembly, if there was gas/oil up the back side as you would still be getting returns to some degree. Same if your float equipment failed.
    Same holds true for the liner, failed packer and you get returns up the annulus, failed float and pressure in the pipe.
    In either instance you would conduct remedial action there and then, not come off it and pull out to go logging.
    Therefore, what ever events took place happened fairly dramatically. The BOP failing obviously has an important implication in all this. If they didn’t have the ability to shut in then they were in serious trouble. But BOP’s don’t just stop working completely. You do get function test where some function stop for what ever reason but not all. In this case if they were logging then they could only use the shear rams or possibly either annular, unlikely they all failed to operate.
    Would need to know what they were actually doing at the time of the incident, more specifically what they had in the hole.
    Only three things lead to a blow out, lose of primary well control (drilling fluid), lose of secondary well control (BOP) and human error. It’s usually the last one that leads to a blow out, but hindsight is always 20 20.
    I am in drilling and have been for 20+ years and currently work as a toolpusher so more than a little interested in cause of this disaster.

  41. landon haugh says:

    i live in gulfport, mississippi and sometimes when i go outside in the morning there is a strong oil smell. they say the oil is 70 miles out, when i get that smell. what happens when the oil is right on the beach? will i be able to live in my house and/or go outside with that strong of a smell? my dads business is close to the beach too, are we going able to make money with that smell too? STOP THE OIL SLICK NOW!!

  42. Michael Nelms says:

    “This is a significant part of the planet’s ecosystem under attack by our insatiable desire for more consumption, more people, more driving, at any price . . . . . . sad really to watch as a world sucks itself dry in a desperate attempt to achieve . . . . . . what exactly?” Couldn’t agree more!

  43. GrizzlySugarbear says:

    It’s a real shame that all these RUMOURS are flying around so quickly when the families of the 11 people who lost their lives have not had sufficient time to grieve their loss.. Everyone is making wild acusations and speculating what MIGHT have, why can we not wait until Obama gets his people into court to see what ACTUALLY happened as all this media hype just ads to the pain these 11 families are going through.

  44. Jerry says:

    The trouble I have with stories like this is that

    1. They were never going to run a CBL, they were going to run a USIT.
    2. They didn’t get out to the well and find it kicking, they had been there for a week already
    3. SLB doesn’t order the company man to do anything, let alone dump fluid down a well
    4. The company man wouldn’t have told SLB there was no choppers as in fact there were several on the day of the blowout. (remember that BP had sent a load of management out to the rig to give safety awards? Well that chopper went back with the Schlumberger guys onboard)
    5. SLB is not allowed to fly helicopters to a rig. They don’t have contracts for helicopters. They would have to ask permission from BP onshore to be allowed to hire one

  45. h-1 says:

    GrizzlySugarbear, this is affecting a heck of a lot more people than the families of the 11 guys who died, not to mention an entire ecosystem. Oil is hitting Louisiana, it’s threatening the livelihoods of thousands upon thousands of people, not to mention the long term health of countless people (expect, for example, cancer rates to rise), the entire plant / animal ecosystem is shuddering, as if it didn’t already have enough problems dealing with the other toxic waste and pollution in the Gulf.

    Judging by the ‘success’ of the Obama group with AIG and Goldman Sachs, another area where a failure to enforce strict regulations helped create a massive disaster, I’d say the more outside pressure that can be brought to bear on this question the better. If some of it is not quite right, that’s fine, as long as the pressure remains constant until the situation is resolved. By the way, don’t misread that, the regulations in this case were diluted or removed by the Bush group, the current administration simply hadn’t had time to undo the damage done by the previous administration. You might or might not recall that we are in the midst of a massive economic crisis at the moment, so it’s hard to really do everything perfectly.

    Also keep in mind what’s really going to happen long term: anything not paid for short term is going to go into long term litigation, and BP might even dissolve its US branch of its organization to avoid further liabilities. Personally I doubt they will do that, since they’d probably be barred from all future Gulf activity in whatever form they tried to morph into.

    This is very very high risk work, it’s necessary to maintain the way of life we’ve convinced ourselves we need to maintain, but it’s dangerous. To me, these guys on the rigs are more like highly paid soldiers than regular employees. The forces they deal with, both in terms of geology on the one hand, and pressures from the companies to cut costs/increase speeds must be absolutely stunning in terms of daily pressure.

    Ignoring the topic of this thread for a moment, it was not until the Exxon Valdez spill that safer oil transport was mandated, double hulled tankers became the new norm. Exxon is now apparently considered to be by far the safest oil company in the world. They have massive safety protocols that are followed to the letter, as a direct result of the Exxon Valdez spill. I would not at all be surprised to see BP take a similar change in direction in terms of company policy and attitude towards safety.

    In other words, the end result of this spill will be reinforced regulations (that didn’t take long, those are the first drafts of new deep water drilling regulations, as of today, pdf format), much tighter controls over extremely high risk drilling in sensitive areas, especially I hope in the Arctic, where a spill will not just degrade magically through microbial action. So long term, a lot of good will come out of this, safer drilling, less cowboy actions, tighter internal drilling safety restrictions, tighter external regulation and checks (like the North Sea/Brazil deep water BOP ‘show me’ proof of function for example).

    What actually happened is coming out in pieces, slowly. Some won’t come out until people are forced to testify. Some will never come out simply because BP and other contractors will never admit the parts that go undiscovered since that could well massively increase the criminal liability. Some people will take the 5th, as is their constitutional right, though doing so will increase the scrutiny of the investigation.

    But above all keep your eyes on the ball: we are doing deep water drilling because there is no other new easy oil to get. Deep water drilling is expensive, and like tar sands, requires oil prices > 50, 60 a barrel, 80 in some cases to be economically viable. Decline/depletion rates are incredibly high in ocean drilling, it’s a rat’s scramble at this point to just stay even with demand/production levels, and according to the US military, they expect global production to be down by up to 10 million barrels per day by 2015. Deep water and ultra deep water drilling, while technologically stunning, equal to outer space work in many ways, is proof positive we are on the very last step of the production plateau we have been wobbling along since 2005 or so.

    Events like this BP blowout are just signs along the way. And the failure of companies to follow safe drilling practices is almost a guaranteed outcome of removing the regulations that force them to do so, plus of course, this stuff is just inherently dangerous in the first place. I believe ROCKMAN from the oildrum said that about 50 wells kick in the Gulf every year, but are properly handled. So it’s just a matter of time, statistically, before some combination of human and mechanical error is going to create a blowout like this. Tracking the specifics of that combination is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as noting that events like this are almost certain to happen at some point, because of the massive complexity and danger of the operations. The complexity is the warning sign, not the individual failure. Was the same with the Challenger explosion, these are just complicated systems, and things are going to go wrong. Same with the fake models and investment vehicles of Wall street, way too much complexity, just can’t go on.

  46. h-1 says:

    Commenter ‘Why’, I’m sorry, but I had to remove your postings to avoid degrading this comment thread quality. Blatant raw conspiracy theories are fun to play with as toys, but I refuse to allow them here. Real questions, fine. Trying to make what is clearly a string of bad judgments, errors, possible corner-cutting etc into a strawman for a one-world government notion is sloppy reasoning, and has no place here. BP has been found to be guilty of a series of safety violations, they have already been convicted, they had big problems on their Thunderhorse project as well. Trying to make real human actions fall under some sinister unifying conspiracy is just an excuse for not thinking and not learning.

    There is never a need to construct complicated theories about human actions or failures when simple explanations such as greed, incompetence, hubris, and a variety of other human failings are more than enough to explain the causes. This is known as Occam’s Razor, ie, do not seek out complicated explanations when simple ones will do. And it doesn’t get much simpler than greed and arrogance and sloppiness and corner cutting.

  47. Dennis the Menace says:

    having worked onshore and os i have seen company men who range from assholes to real intelligent hard workers who know there stuff so I can understand this one could have been a arshole and allowed a critical situation to get out off control , if it was his fault man is he going down big time whats his name ? I cant understand why ITS TAKEN so long to get some real info on this ? there must be some survivors who can relate what was going down on the day .I would also like to find out at what stage did those BP big wigs get off that day ?

    lets hope the US Govt and the oil companies push for the truth as its the truth only that will help prevent this from happening again as we all know the drilling will must continue to keep our greedy world going Bp can do a lot off good here by coming clean if they try a cover up they will be smeared so bad everywhere no one will want to work with them !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Wireline engineer says:

    To state SLB orders Coman to kill the well idoesnt sound realistic, SLB can advice BP, and within SLB there are several product lines and it doesnt mean that wireline guys did advice it. Very often cementers, slickliners, wireliners, testing etc SLBs are presenting offshore.
    I can believe to the story SLB stoped operation because the well was not stable, and it could be not only SLB it could be any crew member on the rig.
    In extreme situation SLB can get a chopper flying to the rig, for example air ambulance chopper. I am not clear at what stage of operations they were, what was the lookahead there, what was planning to run? When it was planned, was it canceled and SLB sent onshore, was it delayed?? We will have answer probably in next days.

    In such deep water installation for BP the cement evaluation logging jobs normaly is not only CBL, it is USIT (USRS or IBCS) and CBL in combination. USIT is ultrasonic imaging tool, which covers 360deg. IBC lets say is the latest USIT, and has in addition to USIT application the flexural wave application, where with good logging conditions, it is possible to differenciate solid/liquid/gas behind casing, either in cemented or freepipe interval. USIT came into business if I am not mistaken last 6-7 years, IBC last 2 years, and before that was CBL long time, so this is typical for CoMans to call all these logs CBL.

  49. Chris B says:

    I have worked in Oil and Gas for nearly 40 years and can understand the nager that is being directed at BP for what appears at the moment to be some very serious werrors of judgement. What I don’t understand is how the UK is being dragged into this, BP is an International Company and it is not ” British petroleum “, that was changed 10 years ago It was particularly upsetting to see demonstrators in Lousianna standing on thye Union Jack, our National Flag. Have everybody forgotten we are fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan ?

  50. billthedrill says:

    Chris B, you are correct it is BP of America that is involved with this blowout.

    I, as an American citizen will apologize for the disrespect shown the Union Jack flag in Louisiana as you mention. There is no sense for this type of action. Again, I apologize.

    Of course, I was not on the rig nor involved with the project. But I have worked as a driller for many years as well as other aspects of the drilling / production / workover-service etc. industry. Apparently, there was an extreme error of judgment in this situation and it will shake out in the investigation.