Transocean criticizes USCG draft report on Deepwater Horizon

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 9 -- Transocean Ltd. asked the US Coast Guard to revise its draft report on a joint investigation by the USCG and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement into the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible explosion and fire.

The April 2010 accident followed a blowout of the Macondo well off Louisiana, resulting in the deaths of 11 people and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean, later sank. BP PLC operated Macondo.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) last year conducted numerous hearings and compiled evidence. BOEMRE and USCG are expected to release a final joint report by late July.

Transocean said, “The errors in the draft report concern four fundamental issues—sources of ignition, maintenance of the blowout preventer (BOP), functioning of emergency shutdown systems, and functioning of alarms.”

The drilling contractor released a 110-page response dated June 8 that it sent to the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior regarding the USCG draft report. Transocean acknowledged the accident provided “lessons to be learned” by operators and drilling rig crews.

“Unfortunately, with conclusions and findings that are at odds with the evidence in the record, the draft report runs the risk of undermining the Coast Guard’s credibility on a very important part of its marine safety mission,” Transocean said.

Transocean’s response said BP’s “risky decisions produced a massive failure of the well, which made ignition of the hydrocarbons inevitable.” Citing a Presidential Commission finding, Transocean said it was not responsible for BP’s decisions and was not consulted by BP about those decisions.

The drilling contractor also said it submitted a brief to the BOEMRE discussing events leading up to the Macondo well blowout.

Errors cited
Transocean said equipment maintenance on the semi was not to blame for the gas ignition. Various investigators previously said the blowout caused an enormous volume of gas to reach the semi.

“There is no evidentiary basis for concluding that equipment maintenance played any role whatsoever in causing the ignition of the huge gas cloud that was released onto the vessel,” Transocean said.

The Deepwater Horizon crew properly maintained the BOP, Transocean said, adding workers followed a schedule of BOP testing, repair, monitoring, and maintenance that met or exceed standards from former Minerals Management Service, the American Petroleum Institute, and Cameron International Corp., the BOP manufacturer.

“Any suggestion that the BOP was poorly maintained or that Transocean’s maintenance of the BOP contributed to the blowout is not supported by the evidence,” Transocean said.

The drilling contractor said the Deepwater Horizon’s engine shutdown system worked as it was supposed to work. Engines of dynamically positioned rigs are not designed to shut down automatically upon ingression of gas to engine rooms, Transocean noted.

Dynamically positioned rigs do not use automated shutdown because that could set a rig adrift, risking damage to the BOP and a potential disconnect from the wellhead that could result in a spill, Transocean said.

“The engines were properly set to remain in operation until shut off by human operator, or in the absence of an opportunity for such intervention, until a predetermined and undesired speed was reached, in full compliance with international standards,” Transocean said.

The drilling contractor said the semi’s gas and fire alarm system was fully functioning. A general alarm was sounded by human intervention after the rig’s gas detectors automatically sent alarm signals to the dynamic positioning officer on the bridge.

“The Coast Guard wisely and expressly forbids the use of a system that would automatically sound the general alarm upon activation of gas or smoke detectors,” Transocean said. “Such systems generate repeated false alarms, resulting both in needless injuries, and over time, failure to take the alarm seriously.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

EIA: US oil output fell 50,000 b/d in May

07/07/2015 Total US crude oil production dropped 50,000 b/d in May compared with April and is expected to continue falling through early 2016 before growth re...

BLM approves ROW for Elko gas pipeline expansion project

07/07/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Tuscarora, Nev., field office signed a decision record approving a right-of-way for Paiute Pipeline Co.’s (PPC) ...

Obama urged by IPAA president to lift ban on US crude exports

07/07/2015 Commending the administration for its actions allowing some condensate to be exported as a petroleum product, Independent Petroleum Association of ...

AER shuts in 16 Murphy Oil sites in Peace River region for noncompliance

07/07/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator said it has shut in or partially shut in 16 sites operated by Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. in the Peace River region. The sites wer...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent oil prices take dive on world oil oversupply concerns

07/07/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices plummeted more than $4/bbl on the New York market July 6, marking a 5-month low, while Brent crude oil prices on t...

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Cenovus sells royalty business for $3.3 billion

07/06/2015 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, inked an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Heritage Royalty LP to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for gros...

CERI: Energy, operational efficiencies possible in Canadian oil, gas

07/06/2015 Measures can be taken by operators in the expanding resource-intensive Canadian oil and gas sector to improve both energy efficiency and operationa...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected