May 28, 2010
Matt Simmons was an energy adviser to President George W. Bush, is an adviser to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, and is a member of the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Foreign Relations. Simmon is chairman and CEO of Simmons & Company International, an investment bank catering to oil companies.
Simmons told Dylan Ratigan that “there’s another leak, much bigger, 5 to 6 miles away” from the leaking riser and blowout preventer which we’ve all been watching on the underwater cameras:
I have no idea whether or not Simmons is right. The government should immediately either debunk or admit his claim.
If accurate, the bigger leak could have been caused by the destruction of the well casing when the oil rig exploded. That is Simmons’ theory.
Or it could be caused by a natural oil seep, although the odds of a seep of that size occurring right around the time of the Deep Horizon disaster is nearly zero.
There is another possibility.
It is well-known that there were previous accidents at the Deepwater Horizon rig. For example, as AP notes:
From 2000 to 2010, the Coast Guard issued six enforcement warnings and handed down one civil penalty and a notice of violation to Deepwater Horizon, agency records show.
On 18 different occasions during that period the Coast Guard cited the vessel for an “acknowledged pollution source.”
And as 60 Minutes reports:
[Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon, and one of the last workers to leave the doomed rig] said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks.
With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.
“And he requested to the driller, ‘Hey, let’s bump it up. Let’s bump it up.’ And what he was talking about there is he’s bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down,” Williams said.
Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called “mud.”
“We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe,” Williams explained.
That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.
“We were informed of this during one of the safety meetings, that somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million was lost in bottom hole assembly and ‘mud.’ And you always kind of knew that in the back of your mind when they start throwing these big numbers around that there was gonna be a push coming, you know? A push to pick up production and pick up the pace,” Williams said.
Asked if there was pressure on the crew after this happened, Williams told Pelley, “There’s always pressure, but yes, the pressure was increased.”
But the trouble was just beginning: when drilling resumed, Williams says there was an accident on the rig that has not been reported before. He says, four weeks before the explosion, the rig’s most vital piece of safety equipment was damaged.
It is therefore possible that there has been another ongoing leak which BP has tried to cover up.
This article was posted: Friday, May 28, 2010 at 4:13 am