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October 28, 2010

More doubts about Deepwater Horizon cement job

Shares in Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) fell Thursday after the release of a letter to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling from Fred H. Bartlit, Jr., Sean C. Grimsley and Sambhav N. Sankar of the legal team investigating the spill for the commission.

Among other things, it says that in laboratory tests,carried out for the Commission by Chevron, lab personnel were unable to generate stable foam cement in the laboratory using materials provided by Halliburton and available design information regarding the slurry used at the Macondo well and that these data strongly suggest that the foam cement used at Macondo was unstable. This may have contributed to the blowout.

The letter also tells the Commission that the the legal team believes that:

1) Only one of four tests that Halliburton ran on the various slurry designs for the final cement job at the Macondo well indicated that the slurry design would be stable;

2) Halliburton may not have had--and BP did not have--the results of that test before the evening of April 19, meaning that the cement job may have been pumped without any lab results indicating that the foam cement slurry would be stable;

3) Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data; and

4) Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well.

The letter notes, however, that "the story of the blowout does not turn solely on the quality of the Macondo cement job."

Cementing failures are not uncommon even in the best of circumstances. "Because it may be anticipated that a particular cement job may be faulty, the oil industry has developed tests... to identify cementing failures. It has also developed methods to remedy deficient cement jobs.

"BP and/or Transocean personnel misinterpreted or chose not to conduct such tests at the Macondo well."

Read the letter HERE

The report of the laboratory tests can be found HERE

Halliburton issued a press release that you can read HERE


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