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NRT: If you can’t cap it, don’t drill it

Written By: - Date published: 9:49 am, June 7th, 2013 - 21 comments
Categories: disaster, energy - Tags: , ,

I/S at No Right Turn on deep water drilling off our coast line.

If you can’t cap it, don’t drill it

Next year Anadarko – one of the companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon spill – will begin drilling in deep water off our coast next year. So how long will it take them to plug the well if they cause a similar “accident” here? Two weeks:

An international petroleum company manager says it would take up to 14 days to cap a deep water well in the event of a blowout.

Anadarko is planning to drill two deep water exploration wells off the coast of Taranaki and Canterbury next year.


Mr Boggan says if there was a blowout in a deep water well, four jumbo jets would need to fly a capping stack from the UK and the cap would then need to be shipped to the site.

And in the meantime while they’re pissing around, their well will be spewing oil, poisoning our oceans, our ecosystems, and our beaches. Anadarko clearly thinks that’s acceptable. But they don’t live here, and its not their backyard they’ll be poisoning.

If you can’t cap it, don’t drill it. Companies who want to drill in New Zealand should be forced to keep this equipment here, on-site, in case of any accident. Otherwise, they should not be allowed to drill. Its that simple.

21 comments on “NRT: If you can’t cap it, don’t drill it ”

  1. Mark Fletcher 1

    I call BS on this, but what would I know having only worked in the offshore oil industry for 6 years.

    All wells drilled offshore have three pieces of equipment “attached” to the seafloor.
    1: The Template, a base cemented to the sea floor and uppercasings.
    2: The BOP (Blow Out Preventer – catch the name) and
    3: The Lower Marine Riser. This allows the fixed part the template, BOT to interact with the moving bit the floating rig or drill ship.

    This is scare mongering after the Deepwater Horizon spill, an “accident” that should never have happened. The problem there was that there were some seals on the BOP that needed replacing and the Companies involved (not just BP) decided that as in the thirty + years they had been using BOPs they had never had to fire one of “In Anger” that they wouldn’t raise the BOP (A costly procedure but nowhere near as costly as the subsequent price to clean up). They took a risk they never should have. Inspectors and regulators turned a blind eye, that will NEVER happen again.
    There was a blow out on the rig and that is what you use a Blow Out Preventer for, but alas when they went to use it it didn’t work (see above for reason).
    Then unfortunately they had a major problem and we all know the results of that!
    This brings about two points;
    1: No drilling company will ever take that shortcut again as the financial risks are far too great and
    2: I bet you “dollars to donuts” there won’t be one inspector/regulator that will turn a blind eye again.

    • Zorr 1.1

      How about we do up the seatbelt before pulling out of the driveway rather than after the SUV has collided with us?

      Seriously… safety concerns are for those 1 in X amount of times where the consequences of a bad thing far outweigh any potential reimbursement for it. For myself, no amount of money would ever make up for anything remotely approaching Deepwater Horizon and that is only, potentially, made worse by knowing that any solution is (at best) several days away if it happens.

      If your “industry expertise” is to cut corners because the companies have weighed the risks and decided, financially, that the risk is worth it, then I have one thing to say to you. Fuck you and your industry. Come back when you have a conscience.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      Still don’t see why this means the ‘worst-case scenario’ back up should be located in the UK, and not NZ.

      Failing that, it should be located in Oz, not the UK.

      • insider 1.2.1

        Fyi most of our current oil spill response gear and expertise is actually in singapore

    • Colonial Viper 1.3

      Oh that’s very reassuring.

      Given that layers of BP management ignored engineering warnings AND ignored their very own staff and their own operating procedures.

      Why? Expediency, cost, time. Greed in other words. The usual.

      It takes years to fix bad operating cultures in an industry. Would you walk off a job if yoru advice was being ignored? Guess what, a lot of platform staff kept working and kept accepting pay checks when their advice was ignored.

      btw we don’t care how much “financial risk” these operators take on, it’s our nation’s physical resources and reputation which will be ruined by an incident, this is really about the risk WE as a country are taking on.

    • weka 1.4

      This brings about two points;
      1: No drilling company will ever take that shortcut again as the financial risks are far too great and
      2: I bet you “dollars to donuts” there won’t be one inspector/regulator that will turn a blind eye again.

      I don’t believe that. Others have addressed other aspects of that, but I’ll just point out that as the easy to access oil gets used up, the pressure to get oil from wherever, however will get intense. I simply don’t believe that the capitalist drive of companies, nor the self-interest of governments and people clammering for oil will be put aside for the sake of the environment (we’re already not playing fair with the environment and we’re not under peak oil stress yet). Sure some companies will get smarter, and I bet BP doesn’t make the same mistake twice, but we already know that NACT are giving mining permits to companies without good reputations, so what makes you think an accident is impossible?

      Sorry dude, but your reassurances just don’t hold up.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.5

      1: The Template, a base cemented to the sea floor and uppercasings.
      2: The BOP (Blow Out Preventer – catch the name) and
      3: The Lower Marine Riser. This allows the fixed part the template, BOT to interact with the moving bit the floating rig or drill ship.

      All of which failed on the Deepwater horizon. That’s not scaremongering, that’s fact. The fact that there was an accident has no bearing on it or, to be more precise, the fact that an accident “that shouldn’t have happened” is why we need better systems in place.

      1: No drilling company will ever take that shortcut again as the financial risks are far too great and

      Show us the legislation that we have that will bankrupt them.

      2: I bet you “dollars to donuts” there won’t be one inspector/regulator that will turn a blind eye again.

      So, how are those regulators in the Electricity Authority doing? Looks to me like special pleading on behalf of the privateers.

  2. Mark Fletcher 2

    Because there should be no need if the BOP was working as it should (and I have explained the reasons above) then the Deepwater Horizon would have been a “relative” non event. BOPs should be tested before they are placed on the seabed (we used to do it) we also did tests on the backup to the backup where we used the ROV (unmanned submarine) to attach an hydraulic line to the BOP to operate it if the Primary and Secondary systems malfunctioned. But as said above this “accident” should never have happened and it comes down to people not the equipment. The “penalties” now are so high that responsible drillers (and believe it not most of the people working in this field that I know are responsible) wouldn’t ever risk it again.

    I know not what this “worst case scenario” back up is nor can I imagine what it is so I can’t comment.

    Zorr no need to attack me personally as I am only trying to shed some sunlight on this topic.

    • freedom 2.1

      We know the workers are responsible, it is the owners that no-one trusts.

      If the owners of petro-chemical companies could be trusted to do the right thing and operate their multi-trillion dollar business in an environmentally responsible manner, we would not have these very real concerns. Sadly, a century of avoidable disasters show the reality to be what it is, grave.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.2

      Your faith in safety procedures is interesting given your admission that only “most” of the people in the industry take their responsibilities seriously.

      There are players in the industry with very questionable ethics, so I think your attempt to dismiss criticism as “scaremongering” is unlikely to get much traction.

      Plus what Lanthanide said.

    • Colonial Viper 2.3

      But as said above this “accident” should never have happened and it comes down to people not the equipment.

      I’d like to know if you would guarantee the assurances you are making with your life: a kind of Hammurabi’s Rule for oil drillers.

    • weka 2.4

      Mark there are so many ‘shoulds’ in your comment. And saying that most drillers are responsible just proves our point. It’s not fail safe, and we shouldn’t be doing it.

      “it comes down to people not the equipment.”

      Yes, that’s right. That’s why it’s not to be trusted.

  3. Mark Fletcher 3

    CV all your comments on BP et al have validity. Walking off a floating drill rig (and I don’t mean it literally) is difficult, the Company provides the transport. As to how many of the employees working on the rig at the time knew of this we will never know as this probably was not a topic of conversation until after the event. It was probably only known to a few (Toolpusher [the boss] and maybe some engineering boffin) they consequently made a very poor decision.

    But what about the Inspectors et al that should have also been saying no, they were also conspicuous by their absence. So not just company expediency involved here.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1

      They were using the same “high trust” regulatory model this government favours.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Watch this clip from the TV show “The Newsroom”

        The material on the BP spill is factual

        At 3 minutes in they interview a government inspector from the Minerals Management Service – and it becomes clear that each MMS inspector is responsible for inspecting over 600 drilling wells a month.

        In other words – the self-regulatory and external regulatory regime was a systematic farce from top to bottom. Exactly the way the industry that Mark Fletcher works in wanted it.


      • Murray Olsen 3.1.2

        The high trust model is hardly favoured for beneficiaries, OAK, only for people and companies whose negligence and incompetence can cause real problems. For beneficiaries, it’s no trust at all.

        Nothing I have seen inspires any trust whatsoever in oil companies or Tory governments. I do not want these deep sea wells anywhere on the planet.

    • freedom 3.2

      “But what about the Inspectors et al that should have also been saying no, they were also conspicuous by their absence. So not just company expediency involved here.”

      This 2010 article from a New Orleans newspaper plainly spells out that situation. The investigation’s results, like all aspects of the Deepwater Horizon case, went largely unreported and numerous court proceedings from BP muddied almost all public visibility of what really happened. Some of the families of those that died are still awaiting answers on why safety procedures were manipulated. http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/federal_inspections_on_oil_rig.html

      Deepwater Horizon was held up by the Industry as the very model of a safe rig. It was reported at the time of the disaster that BP, the lease holder of the rig, (and other operators) regularly use the various operational exemptions (as mentioned in the article) to avoid scheduled Inspections. After the horrific failure of the rig, the destruction of the ecosystem and the not insignificant loss of human life, BP made various public statements. One that sticks in my craw was that due to the incredibly large number of active wells in the Gulf mistakes in scheduling were bound to occur. This is not a credible response.

      The Corporate manipulation of safety procedures and the flawed reporting of the reduced number of inspections that did happen, does not instil confidence when considering the risks of deep sea drilling in our own waters. Especially delivered under the well signalled allegiances of our current Government.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Also MMS government inspection agency was found to have been run by corrupt practices, flows of money and gifts, their staff having sex with people from the industry etc. Sounds like industry standard practice to me.

  4. Viv K 4

    For gods sake! EVEN IF THERE ARE NEVER ANY LEAKS OIL IS A FOSSIL FUEL THAT CAUSES GLOBAL WARMING AND OCEAN ACIDIFICATION. You can argue till the cows come home about the risks of oil spills and how long it might take to cap one, but the fact is even if all off shore drilling goes completely to plan, there WILL be environmental damage! Please can we accept that this is the 21st century and we know that we have to use energy that does not come from fossil fuels.

  5. Jenny 5

    Deep Sea Oil is one of the Extreme Hydrocarbons. Which includes Fracking, Oil Sands, Shale Gas, Coal Gasification, (similar to the wacky coal to diesel technology initiated under the last Labour administration.)

    The science is clear. If these extreme hydrocarbon technologies are allowed to be realised, our world is headed for a 6 degree rise in average temperature.

    As well as this looming existential danger. Every one of the extreme hydrocarbons, including deep sea oil pose an immediate dangerous and/or destructive threat to the natural environment where they operate, as well as the global climate.

    We all moan about how terrible this is.

    But nothing ever seems to get done and business continues as usual.

    So how are we going to stop it?

    As in past crises that have afflicted humanity, leadership has proven to be the key necessary ingredient in starting an effective fight back.

    In New Zealand, where is that leadership?

    National are in support of Deep Sea Oil Drilling.

    So is Labour. (maybe with a bit tighter regulation).

    What is needed, in my opinion to stop Deep Sea oil, or indeed any other the extreme Hydrocarbons, is a high profile political campaign led by a political party, similar to the campaign against Asset Sales, or the Campaign for Feed the Kids or for MMP, or for Nuclear Free New Zealand.

    Every one of these campaigns were led by minority opposition parties.

    The one party that could provide the leadership to front such a successful campaign against Deep Sea Oil. The Green Party, are seriously contemplating going into a coalition government, where to get cabinet positions they have declared they are prepared to negotiate “without a bottom line”. If “no bottom line” means the Greens are prepared to go into government with no commitment from Labour to stop Deep Sea Oil Drilling. Then the Green party will be bound by collective cabinet responsibility not to oppose government policy including Deep Sea Oil Drilling.

    Why do the Green Party not see a problem with this?

    Labour, have shown no willingness to compromise at all on Deep Sea Oil Drilling, or indeed any of the other risky and dangerous and environmentally damaging plans to increase hydro carbon extraction. This can only mean that the Greens will be the ones to compromise, depending on how much they want those front seats in parliament.

    Excusing the Silence of the Greens, weka argues
    here that NGOs can take up the slack. But IMHO, with the retreat from leadership by the Greens, the NGOs will struggle to get traction.

  6. Kiwiiano 6

    Given that it is well established that the known (or at least claimed) reserves of fossil fuel are FIVE TIMES the amount needed to tip us into climate chaos, we can only question the sanity of those who would be exploring for more. The money would be better spent developing alternatives.

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