A top executive at Cameron International has expressed major concerns with the forensics study Det Norske Veritas (DNV) conducted on its blowout preventer (BOP) that failed to shut off BP’s blown out Macondo well nearly a year ago, according to The Times Picayune.
David McWhorter, Cameron’s vice president for engineering and quality control, told The Times Picayune he spent several months with the forensic examiners hired to inspect the failed BOP. At a hearing before a federal investigative panel in Metarie, La., he testified that he has some major questions about those forensic findings.
The report released by DNV concluded that the powerful slicing rams designed to seal off the well failed to sever the drill pipe, which was bent by the force of the well flow. This allowed oil to continue up onto the rig, inevitably causing the explosion.
According to the The Times Picayune, DNV’s conclusion implies that the BOP wasn’t designed by Cameron to handle intense emergency conditions. Cameron said the BOP is designed to industry specifications. However, those standards never conceived of a bowed pipe, and standard BOP testing does not include rams cutting off bent drill pipes.
DNV officials said that they the forensics report was their theory based on modeling and had no physical evidence of the pipe bending. Because of this, McWhorter faulted DNV for not presenting any other theories that did not include a bent pipe, including things that could have resulted from poor maintenance of the BOP by the rig’s owner, Transocean.
McWhorter said that DNV also ignored other possibilities, such as not having enough power for the shear rams to close fully, or whether the “deadman” function on the BOP, which is supposed to automatically close the rams and disconnect the rig from the well when hydraulics, electricity and communications are all lost, was armed. He also testified that examiners did not consider all of the additional attempts to get the rams and valves to work using remotely operated vehicles that would have moved devices before the BOP was taken for examination.
The Marine Board of Investigation panel, which consists of three Coast Guard officials and three Interior Department officials, must complete a final report detailing what caused the disaster and analyzing immediate response effectiveness by July 27.Read a related blog, The Daily Hurricane, with an entry titled, “Back to Square One? BOP Investigator Admits to Key Error in Report.”
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