BP sucessfully installed their new, tighter cap on the Macondo well yesterday, and will now begin testing the valves and the other functions. The goal is to fully capture all of the leaking oil from the well, and officials believe they can achieve that goal. This would not stop the drilling of the relief wells, seen as key to permanently closing up the spill.
A solution eighty days into the disaster won’t strike most people as satisfactory. Especially when you learn about the dangerous risk-taking that led to disasters like this, and not just at the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Hurricane Dennis had already come and gone on July 11, 2005, when a passing ship spotted a shocking sight in the Gulf of Mexico: Thunder Horse, BP’s hulking $1 billion oil platform, was listing precariously to one side, looking for all the world as if it were about to sink [...]
“It could have been catastrophic,” said Gordon A. Aaker Jr., a senior engineering consultant on the project. “You would have lost a lot of oil a mile down before you would have even known. It could have been a helluva spill — much like the Deepwater Horizon.”
The problems at Thunder Horse were not an anomaly, but a warning that BP was taking too many risks and cutting corners in pursuit of growth and profits, according to analysts, competitors and former employees. Despite a catalog of crises and near misses in recent years, BP has been chronically unable or unwilling to learn from its mistakes, an examination of its record shows.
While the risks of deepwater drilling are universal in nature, BP in particular has exacerbated that risk by valuing profit over safety again and again. From the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005, at a terribly maintained death trap of a facility, to the worst North Slope leak in history at their Prudhoe Bay site in Alaska, to the Deepwater Horizon rig today, BP has identified themselves through shoddy workmanship, a lack of concern for their own workers and a ruthless desire for more oil. Hundreds of OSHA violations have piled up over the years, but BP clearly sees them as part of the cost of doing business. As Henry Waxman, leading an investigation of BP in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “BP cut corner after corner to save a million dollars here and a few hours there. And now the whole Gulf Coast is paying the price.”