Monday, July 12, 2010


Monday, July 12, 2010

This thort is a response to:

Let's assume a perfect record for 30 years of oil exploration in the gulf. Forget the huge spill in 1979. Besides, that was the Mexicans. Thirty years ago Mexicans, to boot. Nix Ixtoc I.

Obviously, the big oil companies operate much safer now that we have huge, complicated deep water drilling platforms. How long has deep water drilling been going on?

More importantly, how many deep water wells have been dug into the Gulf of Mexico? Can't seem to find that number. The moratorium proposed by Obama affects 30 currently drilling or planned (5) wells. How many drilled now?

I have heard there are 30,000 wells in the gulf, and I will assume 10% are deeper than I'd like to drill. (Think scuba divers fixing stuff.) Perhaps 10,000 deep wells (as I've defined them, not the "official" more than 1000ft.)

10,000 to 1 might be a good guess on the odds of a major catastrophe (actually, we're beyond major.) Figuring there were 10,000 wells drilled without catastrophe, if the next one fails (as it did) that's only 10,000 to 1.

Government regulators may have confused themselves by all the new-fangled technology disguised as backup systems, administrative controls and safety measures – but ultimately multiple layers of complication only really multiplied the chance of catastrophic failure. That's the way of sophisticated stuff. You might call it the "More Moving Parts" theory or perhaps More's Law (apologies to Moore.)

If you make stuff more complicated, you multiply the ways it can fail (catastrophically.) Engineers can anticipate certain failures, but multiple failures generate symptoms geometrically. Suppose you suddenly went deaf. Now suppose you suddenly went deaf, blind and dumb. Get the picture?

Ixtoc I was drilled in 160 feet of water. It was the biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico before our current disaster. In retrospect, I believe we'll find the Mexican damage was insignificant compared to what is still happening now.

These fools have threatened all life on Earth. Isn't it time for real change?

Interesting reading:

11 July 2010:

30 April 2010 (10 days into spin.):

Info on the Mexican spill: (Ixtoc I oil spill):

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