May 03 2010

Fly By 05_03_10 – Open Thread

Published by at 6:32 am under All General Discussions,Fly By

Still on travel, and not much to post about today.  Clearly in the news is the amateurish bomb in NY City and the apparently fake pipe bomb in Pittsburgh.

More troublesome, in my mind, is the continued oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I find it hard to believe is there was no fail safe on the system to cap off the tap well below the water’s surface. I also find it ironic the well was being drilled by the UK’s BP Oil Company.  BP acts as if it is the greenest of green companies, the European arrogance about US industry is now being shown to be so much posturing.

And of course our young president has waved his rhetorical wand and claimed he will make it all right.

Anyway, look forward to reading the comments from our readers.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Fly By 05_03_10 – Open Thread”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJ Strata. AJ Strata said: new: Fly By 05_03_10 – Open Thread […]

  2. WWS says:

    AJ, there was a fail safe – in fact there were several, and yes, there were located 5,000 feet down on the seabed. They all failed, that’s the problem. These exact same systems have worked on every emergency for the last 30 years, but they failed this time. Right now no one is really sure how or why they failed- this rig truly did have the best and most modern technology available today, which makes this even more shocking. In a way it’s very similar to the Titanic disaster; the best people and the best technology of the day ran into nature and got their asses kicked, and nobody saw it coming.

    Mark Levin has posted an audio interview with one of the survivors of the rig, having worked in the industry everything this man says has the ring of truth to it.

    He says cementing hadn’t started yet, and just as they were about to start a huge and unexpected gas surge blasted up the wellbore, ignited at the surface and took out the rig.

    The best bet is that the accident unintentionally created something similar to reinforced concrete through the inside of the BOP stack, which permanently jammed all the cutoff systems. And now, realize that there is 5,000 feet of collapsed pipe piled on top of that wellhead like crazy spaghetti which make the wellhead extremely difficult to get to. That’s why the only guaranteed way to stop this is to drill a relief way and pump heavy slurry in down deep.

    The relief well has already been started, but it may take 90 days to complete.

    BP is getting quite a bit of a bad rap here – BP was not the driller, although they’re financially responsible for it. Transocean (stock symbol RIG) was the company that actually was operating the rig and which was in control of day to day operations, Cameron is reportedly the supplier of all the downhole safety systems, and Halliburton may have been the company which screwed up the cementing procedure. But there will be years of lawsuits before that all gets straightened out.

  3. WWS says:

    Here’s a topside picture of the BOP stack used by the Deepwater Horizon, ie the fail safe device. (Actually 5 in a row in this piece of equipment, which is about 40 feet tall)

    Lots of good comments, including one engineer who agrees with me that the fireboats probably sunk the rig unintentionally. (some crazy comments too, just like always)

    Here’s a pic from the ROV attempting to access the underwater controls.

    The BOP (blow out preventer) stack will not actuate – probably it is jammed from the inside. As others have noted, there is a casing collar every 30 feet on the pipe string, these are extra thick and no shear rams ever made are strong enough to cut through these – too much heavy, high grade steel. It should be incredibly unlikely for the collar to be the piece right across from the rams, but… if the casing isn’t cemented tightly in place yet, and the well starts to spit it back out (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel, but it happens – yes, the forces in play really are that great) and if the BOP is partially closed – a collar would be what would get stuck in the rams. And there might be big chunks of cement from the failed cementing operation jamming the inside of the BOP now also, preventing it from actuating.

    We’ve talked quite a bit the last couple of years about Black Swans, the concept made famous by Nick Taleb. This, my friends, is what a Black Swan looks like. The thing that is so improbable that no one in the world seriously believes it is possible. The best, most highly paid engineers in the world just got caught with their pants around their ankles.

    Titanic – Piper Alpha – Challenger – Columbia – add Deepwater Horizon to the list.

  4. ivehadit says:

    What do you think about the former NOAA guy who said that 90% of the oil could have been gotten before coming ashore if we had acted earlier?

    And why would be wait for a foreign company to protect our shores?? Hello?

    I heard an interesting choice of words by obama yesterday. He said that he was doing what was….REQUIRED.

    Not needed. Required. Those are the words of someone who is complying but is not committed. But we already know this.

  5. WWS says:

    I trust a company with experience in the business far more than I trust any government agency to come up with a proper response. As much as I dislike the Obama administration, this is a political cheap shot just like saying Bush could have saved New Orleans. I do not believe what the NOAA man is saying is accurate, everyone has been scrambling to do everything they could from the moment it first happened. It just took a while for the scope of the disaster to sink in – remember that after the rig was evacuated the data feed was lost, and it took days to figure out just what was happening on the sea bed. There was no way to measure or even see how much oil was coming out until the slick began to develop and it’s growth could be measured.

    The booms are not working because there are 2 meter swells and windy conditions – booms only work in very calm water. Also, the oil isn’t coming up in just one place, there are at least 3 plumes from broken sections of the riser. And to make it even more complicated, a good part of it seems to be emulsifying on the way to the surface and spreading out underwater, which also serves to defeat the booms.

    Booms are a low tech, low percentage shot at containing stuff – no one really believed they would work on the open ocean, but they had to be tried since it was all anyone could do on short notice. Nothing would have changed if a system guaranteed to fail would have been deployed a few hours earlier – it just would have failed a few hours earlier.

    BP is attempting to drop a 100 ton funnel down, supported by cables from above, over the rising column of oil and use that to catch most of the oil plume and pump it to a standby barge, which could then offload it to disposal vessels. Never been tried before, but it’s promising. Looks like it will take at least another week before that can be in place, though, and it will be a very temporary fix and at risk in any large storm. I can’t see how something like that could survive a hurricane, so we’ll just have to hope one doesn’t blow up while this is ongoing.

    Long term, the only fix is to get the relief well drilled. About 90 days for that to work is the best current estimate.

  6. AJ,

    The Obama Administration/Federal government template for reacting to terrorism is increasingly looking like the movie ANIMAL HOUSE.

    Specifically the ROTC lieutenant ineffectively jumping up and down screaming “Remain Calm” at the parade turned riot a the end of the movie.

    This represents a total flip from “Let’s not jump to conclusions” to “Yeah.”

    See below:

    News Alert: Officials: International links increasingly likely in Times Square bombing attempt

    02:13 PM EDT Monday, May 3, 2010

    The failed car bombing attempt in Times Square increasingly appears to have been coordinated by several people in a plot with international links, Obama administration officials said Tuesday.

    White House officials also characterized the incident as attempted terrorism for the first time, dramatically stepping up their description of the intended attack.

    “I would say that was intended to terrorize, and I would say that whomever did that would be categorized as a terrorist,” said press secretary Robert Gibbs.

    For more information, visit

  7. AJ,

    This is what flipped the three letter Federal bureaucracies on the Time Square bombing attempt being “non-domestic” terrorism:

    On Sunday night, a second video was posted by apparent representatives of the Taliban, showing the group’s commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, promising to launch attacks in the United States.

    Mehsud, who U.S. and Pakistan authorities initially believed was killed in January drone strike, was recorded saying, “The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in their major cities . . . in some days or a month’s time.”

    The video is marked with the logo of the TTP official media wing, Umar Studios, and appears to be credible, according to Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners.

  8. ivehadit says:

    WWS, I lived in Nola 20 years and there are beaucoup companies who know what to do. The oil industry is their bread and butter. I just don’t think we should have waited for BP to tell us anything. They and rightly so are going to work in their best interest first. We should have been on it from the getgo. I heard the timetable of response this morning.

    Interestingly, Haley Barbour discussed how this is very different from the Valdez…and that the Gulf has leaks all the time as a natural course…

    And btw, we have had oil on our Gulf shores before…and we will survive…and thrive.

  9. WWS says:

    BP is putting together a kind of underwater dome or concrete chimney which is supposed to be able to divert much of the flow into a pump line which can transfer it to a ship. This has never been tried in water this deep, so there’s no guarantee it will work, but if it does the spill will not be as bad as the worst case scenarios being bandied about today. It should be deployed in about a week, they are still building it right now.

    I’m not so critical of BP’s response, although their communication could have been better. The boom system would not have worked, could not have worked. The seas were too rough. The unfortunate fact is that once the disaster happened, I do not believe there is anything that could have been done to change the way things have played out. This disaster is too big, and our powers and technology just aren’t good enough to have done more. No one wants to hear that – no one wants to think that there are situations where we are gonna get our ass kicked and there’s nothing we can do about it. But they happen.

    There are a class of mega-disasters like this that have to be stopped *Before* they happen – because once they happen you are royally screwed with no good way out.

  10. Fai Mao says:

    Poster above is right. There are oil slicks in the Gulf that have been there 1000’s of years, though none this large. The Spanish used to sail ships through the natural slicks dragging an old sail to capture tar to paint ships and rigging with.

  11. Glenn Reynolds reported the following from

    “Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there. There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.”

    A “naturalized American citizen” fits the AG Eric Holder/ACLU “Don’t spy on Muslim Americans” standard operating procedure AJ Strata has identified.

    I wonder how many other Muslim-American citizen connected terrorist cells the Obama Administration’s politically correct counter-terrorism electronic surveillance let through between Jan 2009 and November 2010?

    And how many more the politically correct bureaucratic CYA actions post Major Hasan will let plots not get broken up in time.

    We have been averaging one terrorist attack every three months, plus or minus a month, starting about seven months ago.

    November 5, 2009 Ft Hood shooting by Major Hasan. He is a radicalized Muslim-American with connections to American Cleric and Al-Aaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.

    Jan 10, 2010 Detroit underwear bomber. The bomber is connected to Anwar al-Awlaki’s Yemani cell of Al-Qaeda.

    May 1, 2010 Times Square car bomb, reports a connection to “person of interest” — a recently returned from Pakistan naturalized Muslim Pakistani-American citizen.

    If this Terrorist operational pattern holds. We will see another terrorist attempt around July 4th and another just in time for the late Oct-Early Nov 2010 election cycle.

  12. From Instapundit:

    ARREST MADE IN TIMES SQUARE BOMBING CASE: “The man, Faisal Shahzad, 30, was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport on board an Emirates flight to Dubai, according to the airline and an early-morning statement Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. delivered at the Justice Department in Washington.”

    Reader Chris O’Brien emails: “As per Mayor Bloomberg’s prediction, I am just glad they caught Mr. Shazad before he flew back to Pakistan, so we can all learn about the specifics of his policy differences on the healthcare bill. In fact, as we have been giving unsucessful terrorist names (like the She Bomber, Undiebomber, etc. ) recently, I propose we call Mr. Shazad the Healthcare Policy Bomber. Bravo Mayor! You hit it right on the head!”

    UPDATE: NSA Database found suspect via disposable cellphone. File this under “would have been Orwellian if it had happened under Bush.”

    ANOTHER UPDATE: On Bloomberg, Mark Steyn comments: “Why do public officials so reflexively dissemble and misdirect every time? In the end, all they’re doing is undermining confidence in the integrity of their own institutions. That doesn’t seem a smart move.” Maybe they’re not very smart.

    Posted at 8:09 am by Glenn Reynolds

    Plus up the Democratic Party counter=terrorism desperation meter two notches, “High level of concern.”

    We need to be at Democratic Party level “Insane with fear we at going to lose the 2012 election” to get to the levels of domestic security we had under Bush in 2008.