(15 Sept 2010 This article is dedicated to a wonderful friend on his birthday, who sourced the material for this article).
The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
While others were busy fighting the fire on Deepwater Horizon and looking for survivors, those who had been instrumental in driving the exploration drilling into a disaster, were secretly planning to absolve themselves of blame. This is to be expected in each and every disaster I had investigated.
In my paper “The need for Independent Post Survey QC to check the high failure rate of geohazards prediction” which was presented on 11 June 2010 and submitted to Geological Society of Malaysia for publication; I wrote:
Yet geohazards predictions are often treated with disdain if the risk of geohazards is high. Many would prefer the risk of geohazards to be downplayed in order for the project or drilling to proceed “smoothly” as planned. In the event of an “unlikely” disaster, the “safe geohazards assessment” is always handy in absolving blame and financial responsibility. It is also easy to blame massive financial losses on geohazards which like all natural disasters are acceptable “force majeure”. The chain of human errors especially the erroneous geohazards prediction and interpretation leading to the disaster is often lost in the chaotic aftermath.
I have commented many times that the investigation into the disaster is the biggest joke of the century. In any financial disaster, the CEO and the ones most likely to be involved in the scandal would have been sacked or at least suspended pending investigation. In the BP’s oil spill disaster, not only were the companies under investigation placed in charge of recovering the evidence, the CEO and all those who had recklessly driven the exploratory well to a disastrous blow-out, are still in control and have more than 4½ months to shred every piece of incriminating evidence.
The Deepwater Horizon rig's failed blowout preventer and the twisted remnants of the drilling platform may be "exhibit A" in the effort to establish who is responsible for the biggest peacetime oil spill in history, with the companies under investigation in charge of recovering the evidence.
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Is it any wonder BP behaved as if the whole gulf belongs to them; to do as they pleased? Is it any wonder BP never seek prior permission to use “toxic dispersant” whose use had been banned in the UK? There are many more questions which investigators have to ask but perhaps the most important question of all; Would one lie if one is not guilty?
Thus while documentary evidences can be easily destroyed, disposed off or fabricated, time and space can never be created nor destroyed in the account of events. In my time, I have seen many fabricated seismic data, calibration reports, installation certificates, medical certificates and others, which appeared to be totally genuine on first look. However, all failed when subjected to the logic test of time and space.
So with this brief introduction, we can now critically analyze one of the first documented lies by BP on 22 April 2010, 0402hrs while DWH was still afloat burning and the Search & Rescue (SR) operation was underway to look for survivors. See figure 119-1, the highlighted lines of the Coast Guard log are reproduced here in bold.
JD. At 0402hrs, 22 April, BP reported the Deepwater Horizon has moved appx. 714ft in the north-east direction and is only connected by the Marine Riser.
JH. At 0539hrs, 22 April, Briefed by …(black out)….. MSU Morgan city. Modu reported to have move 714 ft to the NE direction. Held in place by Marine Riser.
The sea state at that time was reportedly calm with little wind. DWH had no power to move by itself. Notice the emphasis was “Move”; to imply that DWH had been moving or rather drifting and was only restrained from moving further north-east by the marine riser. This is the plain comprehension of those two sentences. On first look there is nothing wrong with DWH moving. In fact, why would this be important at all when there are more urgent matters at hand like putting out the fire and finding survivors? But things spoken in haste or at times of emergency do reveal a lot more than the PR messages and advertisement meant to improve the image of BP, at least to the unsuspecting public.
In the first place the marine riser is made of steel and cannot be extended without breaking. Also unlike mooring lines, there is virtually no slack. Thus, there can be very little movement, if at all it did move by undercurrent or wind. But there was little wind and current as we had all witnessed on the first 2 days. The flames and dark smoke were visibly vertical. Anyway this is just a minor point.
Even if there had been strong winds and waves (somebody should really check the wind and current direction), DWH could not have drifted that far. Since there is no slack and the steel string is non-extendable, at 714 ft from Well A (assuming it was vertically above well A at the seabed), DWH had to sink by 51 ft (15.6m). Now that would be noticeable. Why it was not reported? As the drift had happened within the first 2 days when DWH had not lost its buoyancy yet, there had to be a strong gale to continually “force” a floating body down. That the sea state was reportedly calm makes it even more interesting.
Without any electronic positioning devices onboard the burning DWH, how did BP get such an accurate measurement of 714 ft at sea? If BP had estimated DWH position from one of the vessels, the best estimate from the radar would be 2 decimal point of a mile (0.01 nautical mile = 60.76 ft). In any case why was there a need for 1 ft accuracy? Any normal seaman would have read off DWH’s position (from the radar) as 700 ft or more likely 0.11 n. mile (668ft) or 0.12 n. mile (729 ft). I doubt a surveyor would do any better. In any case why would BP specifically fly in a surveyor just to get such an accurate position of a burning rig? As if BP had nothing better to do than to get a good accurate position of DWH. Defies logic, does it not?
In all probability, the position of DWH must have been calculated from coordinates. But how did BP get the coordinates of a floating burning DWH surrounded by a circle of oil? The fire-fighting vessels cannot get near due to the intense heat. Why would anyone risk his life to get that accurate position of DWH so desperately?
Well, if the above do not make sense, then maybe the following reconstruction of events can.
Remember in my last posting (One-Month-Late-5-Days-Before-Blowout,Part-4-AoMD), 5 days before the blowout on 20 April, everybody was euphoric on their unexpected success in reaching the targeted reservoir and huge payload of the reservoir. BP made a delayed application on 15 April 2010 to spud the new well at an unreported location (referred to as S20BC from my forensic analysis) on 16 March a month earlier. Does this paint the picture of funny businesses going on behind MMS’s back?
Like all who were guilty conscious of their crimes, the first impulse was to cover their tracks. At that time, the BOP was still intact; before the reported second explosion on at 10:22hrs 22 April 2010, more than 6 hours later. Those who had ordered DWH to drill at the unreported and unapproved location would be in serious trouble if the ROVs during the recovery stage, were to report a blown location different from Well A. Thus it appeared to be an opportune (during the confusion) to introduce the new position. In their haste, they calculated the position of the BOP (still intact at S20BC) and LIED that DWH had drifted to the new location; hoping that no one will notice.
Why did the late Matt Simmons claim that the real blown-out well was 7 miles away? Why did the number 7 keep appearing? Like all the other information, he must have been briefed on the actual incident by an insider. Once the information is leaked out, it would be difficult to suppress it (or keep it secret anymore). Now if you cannot suppress it, you can distort it. As a seasoned leader in the industry, there would be close associates or past acquaintances who could override the first “insider’s leak information” with more “credible” (distorted) information. If there were 5 against 1, who do you think the late Matt Simmons would believe, especially if they were more senior or working at higher levels than the first insider?
If the late Matt Simmons is alive today, he would have realised by now who had been the ones feeding him distorted information.