Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Case of Cheap Plastic Seal

There's an interesting article on Money Morning about much-reported BP's Gulf oil spill and far-less-reported EOG Resources' Marcellus Shale gas explosion.

They have one thing in common, says the author, Dr. Kent Moors: a thin, cheap, rubberized plastic seal used in the Blowout Preventer (BOP).

In the article "Marcellus Explosion-BP Spill: Both Involved This Faulty $7 Piece of Plastic", Dr. Moors says:

"At Clearfield, as gas production was beginning, the well experienced a sudden increase in pressure. The BOP, a cheap, rubberized seal, forms a series of redundant valves that should allow technicians to stop the flow of oil or gas, stabilize a system, or even cap a well in the event of a pressure surge.

"But the BOP connection malfunctioned; the seal was broken, and with it went any chance of preventing or controlling the blowout itself.

"It is also clear that a BOP failure brought about the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf, the destruction of the most advanced piece offshore drilling equipment, along with the deaths of 11 people and the likely destruction of an entire region's economy."

The company who manufactured those BOPs that failed in Marcellus Shale and BP's Deepwater Horizon is Cameron International (stock symbol: CAM), who maintains that an electrical problem was the cause of malfunction at Deepwater Horizon. They have evaded the scrutiny so far, much like that company who manufactured gas pedal assembly for Toyota.

I just wonder: who makes those cheap plastic seals for BOPs? (searched using Aribaba.com)

I don't know whether Cameron makes those seals (I highly doubt it) or source them from Asia, most notably China as a cursory Aribaba search indicates.

Either way, I wouldn't be surprised that the seals failed: the US manufacturing capability is down the drain for a very long time now, and the Chinese are good at making something that looks like something but is actually not.

By the way, BP's well-casing didn't have an O-ring seal in it. Again, I don't know that, but I wouldn't be surprised if the O-ring seal was omitted to save cost. An O-ring is a gasket that act as a seal in the joints of an equipment. It is CHEAP.

Penny wise, multi-billion dollar stupid.


Anonymous said...

It just keeps on getting worse for BP:

Apparantly 90% of the safety documention for Atlantis is missing or was never created. This documentation is used to shutdown the rig in case of an emergency.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Thank you for the link. I'm appalled. Not so much at BP, but at Salazar and at his agency. Not only he sat on the whisleblower's complaint but even now he refuses to order the shutdown of the well during investigation. And that investigation is only 10% complete.

No wonder Obama's Oil Drilling Czar is an attorney. Obama and his government had better cover their own behind.

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