May 30, 2010
Longtime oil workers anticipated, predicted ‘top kill’ failure
Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier
Marc is standing at Dixie’s Landmark Grill in Morgan City La., last week, part of a Day’s Inn motel. He’s got the camera pointed toward the backs of people, about 20 total, who have turned their attention to the TV as the networks are giving them a live feed of Obama and Company’s visit to their state’s shining glory – Grand Isle.
Dixie’s been running an Obama special, an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet with plenty of gumbo and fried frog’s legs and catfish. The manager had thrown in some sweet potato fries and a few sodas on the house while Marc listened in on the President’s visit. Every single one of them watching did not want to “get involved with being on camera.” Morgan City is all about Big Oil – well hunting, well drilling, oil rig and equipment fixing and selling.
“Yeah, I had two dozen of them eyeing me when I went in with my camera . I understand that. But it’s been amazing,” Marc said. “Oil workers know and understand the most about this situation, and what went wrong and how to fix it, yet they are the most lip-locked.”
Reticent to talk on camera, that is, but Marc captured their sentiments when the filming stopped. Hands down, these guys have said that the well has to be taken care of with a bottom kill. It’s been done many times before in this oil field. Basically, drillers make a hole 2,000 feet down over the well head pipe. Sure, all the wonks with science and mathematics under their belts have to figure out the logarithms for all that pressure and the total volume of oil behind it.
Once the right amount of explosives is packed in and detonated, the well will collapse and shut off or slow down considerably. They told Marc that a relief well, which would take two months to create to get to the 16,000 foot level, still has to be drilled in case the bottom kill creates any fractures that could leak oil later on.
The oil workers clearly fathom the entire BP-federal government situation: BP cuts corners, and the evidence of well instability was presented weeks ahead of the Deepwater Horizon rupture. The oil business is dirty, but there’re two ways to handle the battering pressure of ocean and geo-tectonic physics.
One, with respect and not throwing caution to the wind and putting emergency response teams in place. Or, the second way, the BP way: plenty of spin, lies, underestimating the rate of spill, drunken government gumbo ya-yas, unapproved dispersants used to make the oil heavier, and general unpreparedness.
Multiple accidents and many blowouts have happened in the Gulf Coast, Marc was repeatedly told by these leathernecks and tool and wrench guys.