An equipment failure? Or did BP just screw up, big time? 

The Wall Street Journal offers a disturbing report, suggesting that it was not an equipment failure but a stupid decision that led to the recent Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion. You need to read the whole thing for context, but it boils down to someone deciding to do things in the wrong order:

At this point it is common practice to pour wet cement down into the pipe. The wet cement, which is heavier than the drilling mud, sinks down through the drilling mud and then hardens into a plug thousands of feet down in the well.

The mud then is removed and displaced by seawater; the hardened cement plug holds back any underground gas.

In this case, a decision was made, shortly before the explosion, to perform the remaining tasks in reverse order, according to the expected Senate testimony of Mr. Probert, the Halliburton executive.

“We understand that the drilling contractor then proceeded to displace the riser with seawater prior to the planned placement of the final cement plug…,” Mr. Probert says in the prepared testimony, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The “riser” is part of the pipe running from the sea floor up to the drilling rig at the surface.

Lloyd Heinze, chairman of the petroleum engineering department at Texas Tech University, agrees that this is an unusual approach. “Normally, you would not evacuate the riser until you were done with the last plug at the sea floor,” he said in an interview.

About The Author

David Freddoso

Bio:
David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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