About Those Oil Rig S.W.A.T. Teams...

With great fanfare, President Obama dispatched Interior Department “S.W.A.T Teams” to all 29 active deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Their charge:

  1. Perform a thorough, complete drilling inspection of each deepwater rig.
  2. Key on the BOP [blowout preventer] test time frame, leaks and resolution, discrepancies, and repairs.
  3. Make sure well control drills were performed as required by 30 CFR 250.462.

What’s that? You missed the results?

Well, you came to the right place.

From a May 12 press release from the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command:

MMS has completed its inspection of deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and no major violations were found. … The inspections of deepwater drilling rigs found Incidents of Non-Compliance (INC) on two rigs.  Those violations were corrected and no other violations were found.  To view the inspection report, click here.

[emphasis added]

I’ll recap to save you the trouble.

Twenty-nine rigs were inspected. Twenty-seven were INC-free. Evidence of the “cozy relationship”? No, I imagine that these inspectors went loaded for bear.

Two rigs received a total of four INCs; one of them received three.

The rig with one INC was the Development Driller II, one of the Transocean rigs drilling a relief well for BP at MC 252. Paperwork revealed that proper blowout preventer testing procedure was not followed. BOPs are tested every 14 days, and the tests should alternate between the main and the backup activation panel. DD II function tested the backup panel, but conducted the pressure test from the main twice in a row.


Not a trivial violation, but not one that should be ignored, especially under the circumstances. It’s what operators call a “good INC”.

The other rig:

The Transocean Nautilus working for Shell, received three Incidents of Non-Compliance:

  • A warning INC for having some flammable material [I heard it was a paper coffee cup. – ed.] in the scrap metal bin of the safe welding area. Corrective Action Taken: the material was removed at the time of the inspection.
  • A warning INC for having a 6-inch x 12-inch hole [in the deck grating, a step hazard] by the mud pump suction pipe. Corrective Action Taken: additional grating was place over the hole.
  • A warning INC for having expired eye wash bottles. Corrective Action Taken: the eye wash bottles were replaced.

Few large-scale industrial operations could withstand the level of highly-charged scrutiny involved in these inspections and come away with such a clean bill of health.

Where are the news stories?

Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.



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