Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rising Tide Recaps

I'll add more as they come, but here's a couple from

'Treme' creator David Simon says New Orleans may have something to learn from Baltimore. Congratulations all you "young journalists" out there. (Also: slightly different wording on the Mobile version of the article). I also missed the first half of Simon's speech (desperately in need of caffeine), so I was trying to reconstruct exactly what he said from others and it was about 50/50 'nice points'/'Simon is a douchebag'.
David Simon
Gambit article on Rising Tide.

NOLA Femmes recap.

First Draft's Liveblogging here.

Maitri's favorite photo

Huck Upchuck: Busy Day

Cliff: 7 Years in Blogger Land and I'm still here.

B2L2: We Have A Winnah

Liveblogging: Re-Capping the Well

Alex Woodward - Mod.
Anne Rolfes
Drake Toulouse
Bob Marshall
David Hammer
Len Bahr

Intro. - Alex Woodward.

Overview of blowout - Hammerman.

Schedule here (w/bio's of presenters)

UPDATE 1- Excellent, technically accurate overview given by Hammerman. I've thoroughly enjoyed his USCG/BOEMRE Board of Inquiry Updates.

UPDATE 2- If we never hear "Top Kill" and "Junk Shot", it'll be a good thing. Unfortunately, that ain't gonna happen.

Ken Feinberg, the "Special Master". He's special alright.

Recapping the Well

Anne Rolfes now talking about refinery accident rates. 10 accidents a week. She also starts mixing the oil industry and refinery industry, which I don't generally agree with. I tend to think of Upstream (Exploration and Production) and Downstream (Refining) as separate industries and, interestingly enough, one happens to have a much lower accident rate. According to the (somewhat dated) Normal Accidents, the Chemical/Refining industry has the lowest fatality rate of any heavy-industrial sector. My opinion. Take it for what you will.

Bummer (BOEMRE) joke is excellent.

Now Hammer is going through the MMS Sex Parties Scandal. He says that the biggest issue going forward is the lack of qualified personnel at regulators.

UPDATE- Now Hammer and Rolfes are disagreeing about accidents. Hammer seems to be making a distinction between Process Safety and Personal Safety accidents.

Len Bahr now speaking...

Bahr now talking about Bob Bea and his background working for Shell Offshore on fixed leg platforms.

Bob Marshall talking now about the extent of Louisiana's desire to push drilling in order to reap the royalties, employment, etc. "...and we accept this [risk]." 'The oil industry didn't rape the state,' "it was consensual sex."

Distilling it down further...

UPDATE: Drilling down further?

Alright, bonus points to the first panelist to make a reference to The Oil Drum. OK, that's just my desire I guess...

Drake Tolouse now describing blogging about the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF). Here's his blog: Disenfranchised Citizen. Give it some love.

UPDATE: GCCF: for profit or nonprofit? (BP gets unspent $ back).

Personal note: Cold room. Glad I'm wearing a jacket. Linen is the best for NOLA: loose and breathable for heat, and you get to wear a jacket when you walk into an over-air-conditioned room.

Lots of panelists now ripping of Feinberg (justifiably), but Hammer makes the issue that we do need to root for Feinberg in the end. If Feinberg fails, it's left to the lawyers and courtrooms where MAYBE, SOMEDAY, SOME of those who sue MIGHT get treble damages (and even then to be paid out over installments over time). Rolfes says that BP is trying to turn victims against each other, no acknowledgment of health claims vs. 9/11.

UPDATE: Len Bahr's blog. "Katrina gave us Bobby Jindal," (knecapped relatively moderate, successful Blanco) {did the Moratorium get Vitter re-elected - Me}, how can we ask for $100 Billion for coastal restoration (which we badly need) after our past actions?

"Why do they live there?" - Talking about NY Residents evacuating from coastal, low-lying areas (Bob Marshall). Related.

(TP headline) "A Win for the Coast" = 'Waterloo was a win for France' (LA Coastal Restoration $ gets classified as discretionary spending, with 1 Louisiana legislator voting against that modest [$1 million] appropriation.

Discussion about API and its lobbying role. Hammer makes the note that API makes engineering specifications (API RP's) that carry legal authority that are referenced in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR's). Note that Transocean probably didn't follow API RP's in their maintenance of the failed BOP (there is some vagueness in the API RP that gives TO some wiggle room, but my personal opinion is TO violated API RP's, and hence the CFR's).

Marshall: Pipeline companies in Louisiana gets Eminent Domain power (LA is most restrictive state in nation when it comes to Eminent Domain Laws), but Louisiana can't get that authority for coastal restoration projects. (NOTE: See issue Campanella talked about earlier with Bayou Bienvenue ). BIG ISSUE!

Hammer relays story from flying offshore with (Doc?) Laborde "You know, we never realized what we were doing back then." Related (H/T Cade Roux).

Bob Marshall: We're in the driver's seat. Oil reservoirs can't be moved. Thunderhorse has 1 well that produced ~7% of domestic production at one point. The oil industry (my note- as long as prices stay high) aren't going to up and move. The "Resource Curse".

Rolfes- 'We have such a small budget and the reaction to the little amount of work LA Bucket Brigade does, but then the Oil Industry acts like we're the bane of the state.' [see recent issue of TELC law ]

? Time:
Can it happen again? Hammer: if BOEMRE doesn't hire qualified inspectors/petroleum engineers/ etc., yes.

? to LA Bucket Brigade on Statistical Compiling of Accident Reports: Rolfes- We just re-compiled industry reports with industry terms (LTI's, etc.). Hammer makes note that there were VIP's were having a party on the Deepwater Horizon to celebrate no LTI's in a long period of time.


NOTE: I tried to note my personal opinions as they popped in my head from the commenters' statements. I hope there aren't too many typos and too scatterbrained and all (for a live product). If you've got a complaint, let me know.

Rising Tide 6

Hope I see y'all today. #RT6 Blog here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Historical Gulf of Mexico Production Data

I like this image a lot. Found it here. The data is based off 2003 MMS well data, so it's pretty far out of date on the deepwater fields, but it illustrates how deepwater production is the lynchpin of US offshore oil production (the lion's share of the ~1.6-1.8 Million Barrels a day we produce offshore). The chart is organized based off the maximum historical production rate (B/D) by leaseblock. Note that the shallow fields have history back as far as the 1940's, while there are plenty of blocks now (2011) in production that aren't even show on the map. If the map were updated with today's information, it would look even more lopsided.

The Moratorium 8

Disco Spirit
Here's the names of the 8 drilling rigs that have left the Gulf since the Moratorium was put in place. To note:
* 1 was already scheduled to depart for another area
* 3 were new, 5 were more than 24 years old, and some were more than 30 years old. 20 years is generally a good lifetime for a rig; 30 is sometimes done if prices are favorable and there's been good maintenance and 10-year overhauls. The new rigs will hurt (the 3 that left were among the best in their respective fleets), but the others were so long in the tooth, you'd almost say good riddance. Diamond had a lot of legacy drillships left over from New Orleans-based OEDECO that probably shouldn't be operating in the second decade of the 21st Century. They'll eventually be replaced by newbuilds very soon. There's a MODU building boom going on in Korea, thanks mostly to generous government subsidies and financing for customers.

Note that there have been some rigs that have come TO the Gulf since the Moratorium, although almost all are jackups leaving shallow-water Mexico to drill a series of promising shallow water gas fields on the US side.

BP, meanwhile, still hasn't gotten a SINGLE drill permit since the moratorium. Most other operators now have all their drillships back in operation, but BP's only drilling is being done where they are a minority operator. Either the BOEMRE is deliberately shoving aside anything with BP written on it (unlikely) or it's yet another indicator that BP lags behind in technical competency. BP
desperately wants to avoid "gross negligence" charges (and the quadrupled fines that go along) and this (in my opinion) is yet another nail in that coffin.

The worrying about "Economic Survival" seems to be past, but the Moratorium may yet teach us some interesting things about drillship construction and BP's operating practices.

Unions win a battle with Verizon

Recently, 45,000 unionized electrical workers went on strike against Verizon. The two main points of contention were healthcare costs and pay fairness for the same work. On the first issue, Verizon wanted to force the workers to pay hundreds more per month for the healthcare package (shifting the burden from mostly Verizon to mostly worker). The second issue was that linemen in the landline-side of the business would be forced to take an even higher hike than the cellphone-side of the business. The union argued 'equal pay for equal work' (both sets of linemen do about the same thing, just one unit happens to be more profitable now). Here's an overview article that explains more.

I takes some real balls to go on strike when unemployment is ~10%, but it looks like the union came out on top.

Here's one incident that caught my attention throughout the whole flap: Verizon accused the strikers of conducting acts of sabotage. They even offered a $50,000 reward for proof. Now, charges of sabotage are not uncommon and it's not unheard of for the occasional striker to go off the reservation, but so far, I can't find one time Verizon paid out on their reward and I think I know why.

The striking workers were electrical workers. Guys that deal with high voltage and sensitive electronics. There was also an enormous number that walked out all at once. You can't just take any dopehead off the street and send them to work. They'll electrocute themselves, take down your network, and then you'll need a new network (and a new worker). It looks, though, like that's exactly what Verizon did: Verizon uses inexperienced worker to fill in. Note that the NRC used to explicitly ban any manufacturer of nuclear powerplant equipment from providing equipment to plants built by "scab" workers.

What's really interesting is there's lots of videos out there of the replacement workers screwing things up (with IBEW guys snickering in the background):
Verizon (replacement) workers blow transformer while striker hassles them

One more related note: Has anyone found Obama's comfortable shoes?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Link Dump - 20 August 2011


People tend to overestimate their own intelligence. Funny story at the beginning of the article.

There are other articles out there that are better on one aspect of it, but this is by far the best overview of the spread and damage done by the Stuxnet worm.

Gives some great perspective on how the Wikileaks Afghan War Logs got leaked. Also, nice to read the unedited logs to get the whole perspective (although it takes some skipping around).

Anthrax killer still unknown?
FBI mucks up the case yet again.

Lee Zurik is lazy
So sez Aaron Bennet

Original article. Well worth a read. Great investigative journalism.


Answer: get some practical experience. In the US for engineers, the Senior Project is looked at very closely by employers.

China seeks to displace Korea as the king of the shipbuilders. Korea will start concentrating on higher-value ships (LNG tankers, for example) as China's government pumps money into the shipbuilding industry to build capacity.

Note the article focuses only on Mexican immigrants (not other Latin American countries). Economic progress and less corruption keeps Mexico's best and brightest home.

Discussion of choosing between technical track and managerial track positions. I don't necessarily agree with everything that's presented in the article, but the comments at the end are also good.

Shocking article. Also mentions the USCG/MMS hearings in New Orleans.


Also check out the 'Chats with nuclear dad' on the Georneys blog. A PhD candidate in geology interviews her nuclear engineer dad on Fukushima and other nuclear topics.

Lots of the early missions are still classified (NRO/NSA satellite launches, mostly) and there were some incidents that were never widely known.

Young Men and Fire
The Practical Pyromaniac, reviewed by Adam Savage

Retrain Shuttle workers to inspect Offshore?
Not as crazy an idea as it soundsh

Note that many major oil companies have negative reserve replacement ratios and don't even have a plan to reverse that trend; they'd rather live high on the hog on booked reserves. If you look at oil patch history, on the long run, it's cheaper to find and book barrels today rather than wait until tomorrow....

Squirrels changing trees: Republican edition
MMS tuns to BOEMRE. Now it's BOEM, OESS, and ONRR.

If I ever become dictator, everyone will drive stickshifts. It will stop distracted driving, lower energy consumption (and hence oil prices), and be safer.

From the Houston Chronicle, with hilarious appeal to 'stop sending us those crazy emails'

A history of the Littoral Combat Ship

Syrian soldier's view on being ordered to shoot at his neighbors.


For lesson in shared sacrifice, send Congress to boot camp -
Lt. General Russel Honoré thinks Congress should be sent to boot camp: "Put them in tents with no air conditioning, have Army drill sergeants teach them teamwork and physical sacrifice. When they recognize their responsibility to the people of America, they can return to D.C."

List of books read by Obama over the past ~2 years.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review: The Gun by CJ Chivers

The Gun
Two histories have recently come out about the AK-47. Larry Kahaner's book and CJ Chivers' book. I read this LGM Review and decided on the later.

Chivers' book is more a history of automatic weapons in general and then focusing in on why the AK-47 was so successful. There is a large section in there about the M-16's early teething problems that will make your blood boil (the blame for which he places squarely on Colt's greed and the DoD's incompetence). There have been approximately 100 million units of AK-family weapons produced; the M-1 Carbine, the most produced weapon of WWII only had 6 million units built. The AK is "so easy a child can use it... and they do".

Chivers is a good writer. He's won a few Pulitzers while working for the NY Times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia during the South Ossetian War. He served as a Marine in the first Gulf War. He knows weapons inside and out. I love his explanation of how an engineer must juggle compromises to reach his design. He's a fantastic researcher (the notes section is extensive and has a few funny little stories). One of my favorite stories comes from the Civil War. There were several draft riots in New York. During one, a mob marched down the street to burn down the New York Times. Now, you normally think of the NY Times as a Democratic Party paper and incredibly 'anti-gun,' but in the Civil War, the NY Times was ardently Republican and the editor in chief personally manned the hand-crank of one of three Gatling guns. The editor was not about to let HIS paper get ransacked. He had the 1st story covered in wet newspaper and stared down the protesters over the barrel of a gun. The mob took one look at that editor and decided to burn down another abolitionist newspaper (the New York Tribune) instead.

One of the coolest things about the book is the binding. For about $10 on Amazon, you get a nicely bound hardback. The pages are nice and thick and have a good texture to it. The coolest part is the cover. It has a set of grains to it and when you pick the book up just the right way, it feels like the foregrip of an AK.

My biggest gripe about the book was the photographs. Only about half of them follow the book, while the rest seem like a random allotment from a stockphoto site. I know that Chivers could have done better. He has an awesome blog with all sorts of great photos he's taken in war zones. Check out this post on Rebel Graffiti of Muamar Qadafi.