Tony Allwright, engineering and industrial safety consultant, wonders about what happened with the BP oil disaster in technical terms, like what happened to the additional sealing of the annuluses, and the hydraulic valves and stuff. Which is all very interesting, kinda.
Also of note is the fact that the oil well is called Macondo. That’s the name of the town in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
How had gas built up in the wellbore in an apparently sealed casing? Faulty casing? Poor cement? Lack of plug? Defective equipment? Inadequate procedures? Insufficient expertise? Organisational dysfunction? Human error?
These are big questions which only a formal inquiry can answer.
That’s one that’ll have the experts scratching their heads for years, nay decades to come, assuming the world is not destroyed in the meantime. And then the conclusion will come that, well, they could have done more of this and less of that.
The more vulgarly economistic among us may look to the fact that there was a law passed by the US government following the Exxon-Valdez spill restricting the liability of oil companies in such incidents to $75 million. Dean Baker notes that there are ‘estimates that the damage from this spill to the fishing and tourism industry in the region could exceed $100 billion’.