BP calls blowout disaster ˜inconceivable, ˜unprecedented, and unforeseeable

BPocalypseWith a naivet© reminiscent of the Bush administration, BP officials are claiming that the apocalyptic failure of its deepwater exploratory rig was unforeseeable, unprecedented and inconceivable.  I guess that’s why they didn’t really plan for it and kept telling everyone for the first week that they could handle it.  Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson– who is reporting from the Gulf Coast — has the story in this repost.

On Sunday, BP press flack Steve Rinehart “” hired from the Anchorage Daily News after a mega-spill from a damaged Prudhoe Bay BP pipeline in March 2006 “” even evoked the “I don’t think anybody” excuse that was the hallmark of the Bush administration’s attempts to deflect blame for their catastrophes:

I don’t think anybody foresaw the circumstance that we’re faced with now.” “” BP spokesman Steve Rinehart [AP 5/2/10]

I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.” “” Condoleezza Rice [CNN, 5/16/02]

“The sort of occurrence that we’ve seen on the Deepwater Horizon is clearly unprecedented.” “” BP spokesman David Nicholas [AP 4/30/10]

I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.” “” President George W. Bush [GMA, 9/1/05]

BP did not build containment devices before disaster because it “seemed inconceivable” the blowout preventer would fail. “” BP spokesman Steve Rinehart [AP 5/2/10]

I don’t think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we’ve encountered. I guess the other area that I look at, in terms of an area where I think we were faced with difficulties we didn’t anticipate was the devastation that 30 years of Saddam’s rule had wrought, if you will, on the psychology of the Iraqi people.” “” Vice President Dick Cheney, 6/19/06

Just as there were warnings about terrorists using planes as bombs, the threat of hurricanes to New Orleans, and post-invasion violence in Iraq, the BP failure was entirely conceivable and foreseeable:

Failures of blowout preventers and actual blowouts are common. Between 1992 and 1998 there were 319 failures of blowout preventers found in US offshore drilling, an average of 45 a year. [MMS, 1999] Between 1992 and 2006 there were at least 39 blowouts off the US coastline, 38 of them in the Gulf of Mexico. [MMS, 7/07] From 2007 to 2009 there were 19 blowouts, all in the Gulf of Mexico. [MMS]

The largest accidental oil spill in history was a Gulf of Mexico exploratory rig blowout. On June 3, 1979, the exploratory well IXTOC I blew out and ignited, burning down the platform. Divers later activated the blowout preventer to no avail.The well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 to 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980. [NOAA]

A major deepwater blowout followed by a two-month spill occurred in 2009. In “one of Australia’s worst oil disasters,” a PTTEP oil rig blew out in the Montara oil field on August 21, 2009. Efforts to control the leaking rig set it on fire on November 1st, two days before the leak was finally plugged. Official estimates of the leak rate were five times higher than those of the oil company. [Wikipedia]

A ‘spill of national significance’ exercise in 2002 concerned a major rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Adm. Thad Allen led a “spill of national significance” exercise in 2002 that dealt with the scenario of an oil rig exploding off the coast of Louisiana, with an “uncontrollable discharge” of oil that lasted for a month. These training exercises take place every three years as mandated by the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, the most recent of which occurred in March, 2010.

On Sunday in Louisiana, President Barack Obama said that “the leak is unique and unprecedented.” (HT State of the Division)


14 Responses to BP calls blowout disaster ˜inconceivable, ˜unprecedented, and unforeseeable

  1. With technology the edict is to Fail Gracefully

    NASA showed it off with Apollo 13 – where engineering dictated that no single failure would jeopardize the mission, no double failure would mean a loss of life.

    This wild west drill and spill attitude means this is totally anticipated.

    Humans learned to respect fire and plan how to use it. Technology requires an extended reverence. We continue to get stung but refuse to learn – or refuse to change. Lessons not learned, will be repeated.

  2. mike roddy says:

    BP engineers and executives are perfectly aware that all hydraulic systems leak, and are prone to system failure- especially under pressure, at high teperatures.

    Their public statements are pure bullshit, aimed at the suckers (us).

  3. substanti8 says:

    I hope Mary Landry has good healthcare to remove that foot from her oral cavity.
    Or perhaps we’re all supposed to rest easy with the assurance that the corporate pillager is a “very responsible” environmental pillager.  What’s next?  Polite pirates?

  4. Karen S says:

    How many “inconceivables” is Big Oil allowed before it become conceivable? A spill a day on the North Slope, a history of huge spills (10 largest spills in history, Exxon Valdez does not make the list:

    I think a more accurate word than inconceivable would be “inconvenient.” As for “unprecedented” and “unforseen,” I think “unconscionable” and “universal” sound more honest.

  5. catman306 says:

    “Unforeseeable”, ” unprecedented” and “inconceivable”. How do people with so little imagination and for thought get to lead such large and profitable corporations and “earn” such astronomical salaries?

  6. catman306 says:


  7. Tom Staley says:

    A good workman never blames his tools.

  8. Barry says:

    Big Oil gets away with saying and doing whatever they like because as a society we haven’t created alternatives to their products. It is that simple.

    Until we roll up our sleeves and open our wallets a tad more to create alternatives we can be proud of and hopeful about…then we will eat whatever they serve.

    They know it. We know it. Let’s quit pretending and build alternatives quickly. Please.

    Let’s at least try to give our kids a society where they can choose whether to send these guys packing.

  9. gmo says:

    BP, you keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

    /Inigo Montoya

  10. Mike #22 says:

    No! No regrets
    No! I will have no regrets
    All the things
    That went wrong

  11. So, the blame game has started, the smoke screens are puffing up and there is enough finger pointing to poke several peoples eye’s out. The distract and hide session of this disaster is now in full swing. Everybody agrees on a few key points though.

  12. Stephen Watson says:

    Surely, if such things were ‘unprecedented’ etc. etc. then there would be no blowout preventers, no emergency shut-off valves, no safety equipment needed at all, or even manufactured, because, well, why would they ever be needed?

  13. jorleh says:

    Sea oil rigs too easy targets for terrorists.

    I see it obvious that oil production with oil rigs must be cancelled for this reason.

    Terrorist know now where to attack. Easier to dive with torpedo underwater than hijack a plane.

  14. Jeff Thomas says:

    BP needs to think outside of the Box now. They need to go below the BOPS and the wellhead and stop the well from flowing. ie: Freeze Plug or Squeeze Off with Powerfull Hydraulic Squeeze Tool.