Monday, June 21, 2010

Faulty BOP id'd before rig blast

BP rig worker 'told bosses of problem with blowout device'
Source: Belfast Telegraph
Publication date: 2010-06-21

FURTHER pressure was heaped on BP today, when a worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig claimed that he discovered a problem with safety equipment weeks before the explosion.

Tyrone Benton told the BBC's Panorama programme that he identified a fault on a device known as the blowout preventer.

He claimed it was shut down instead of being fixed and a second device was relied on instead.

BP said rig owner Transocean was responsible for operating and maintaining that piece of equipment.

Transocean said it tested the device successfully before the blast. On April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded killing 11 people, the blowout preventer, (BOP), as it is known, failed.

The most critical piece of safety equipment on the rig, the blowout preventers are designed to avert disasters just like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The BOP has giant shears which are designed to cut and seal off the well's main pipe. The control pods are effectively the brains of the blowout preventer and contain both electronics and hydraulics. This is where Mr Benton said the problem was found.

"We saw a leak on the pod, so by seeing the leak we informed the company men," Mr Benton said of the earlier problem he had identified. "They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don't have to stop production." Meanwhile, full-page advertisements were still running in America's newspapers touting the steps BP is taking to counter the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and help those affected, but no amount of money spent on public relations has been able to change the only page that really matters for the energy giant: the front one.

And yesterday, just when you thought BP had exhausted every PR gaffe possibility, America's headline writers had another field day at the expense of the hapless chief executive Tony Hayward, after it emerged that he had spent part of the weekend watching his yacht racing in Cowes. "Capt Clueless", blasted the New York Post.

The "BP Bozo", another Post coinage, was there for Saturday's JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race after directors sent him back to London and away from running the spill operations.

Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, attacked Mr Hayward. "That's the height of arrogance," he said. "I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil. He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on, not in a cocoon somewhere."


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