An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history…

The process is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor. Cement, pumped down the well from the drilling rig, is also used to plug wells after they have been abandoned or when drilling has finished but production hasn’t begun.

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, workers had finished pumping cement to fill the space between the pipe and the sides of the hole and had begun temporarily plugging the well with cement; it isn’t known whether they had completed the plugging process before the blast.

Regulators have previously identified problems in the cementing process as a leading cause of well blowouts, in which oil and natural gas surge out of a well with explosive force…

The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week…

Halliburton also was the cementer on a well that suffered a big blowout last August in the Timor Sea, off Australia. The rig there caught fire and a well leaked tens of thousands of barrels of oil over 10 weeks before it was shut down. The investigation is continuing…

Federal officials declined to comment on their investigation, and Halliburton didn’t respond to questions from The Wall Street Journal.

Golly gee, that’s a surprise.




  1. Your Mother says:

    It looks like Cheney and the boys aren’t done screwing up America quite yet. It wasn’t enough to leave people to starve, drown and die in New Orleans, now Dick wants to make sure they can’t fish or shrimp either. Well done Dick and other Neo Con Repubs. Keep voting down bank reform to, cause God knows, they don’t need to be reigned in or anything. Morons.

  2. smartalix says:

    EVERY SINGLE F*CKING PROBLEM TODAY IS BECAUSE WE DON”T REGULATE ENOUGH.

    What is wrong wioth the right? Do they hate America that much that they have to treat her like a two-dollar whore on frat night?

    We have a devastated economy – why is the GOP blocking financial reform?

    We pay more for less health care than any other developed country in the world- why did the right try to block healthcare reform? Why are they wasting their time (the math doesn’t work, even if the GOP takes every open seat this year, idiots) with the repeal issue?

    We have less worker safety than most developed countries in the world, and we have now pooched the Gulf Coast due to sloppy quick-and-cheap processes. Why does the right fight workplace safety, mining, and industrial operation regulation?

    Can anyone explain this to me in coherent logical statements backed by facts existing somewhere they can be referenced? Can someone tell me why the right fights so hard for the right to be selfish and evil (what WOULD Christ do? I doubt it would involve selling people bad investments)?

    What is so wrong about making sure everyone is safe and healthy?

  3. Dave T says:

    Thanks #1 and #2

  4. GigG says:

    Folks, I hate to be the one that has to explain this to you but Sh!t Happens. It happens in your car, it happens at work and yes it happens every once avery long while on a production rig out in the gulf.

    It would happen if there were 1000 government inspectors on site and it would happen if there were no government oversight at all.

  5. Milo says:

    I believe that it’s concrete, not cement. Cement is what holds concrete together. There’s also some grammar in the article that is downright infantile.
    I guess the WSJ has to appeal to its market!

  6. smartalix says:

    GigG,

    Nice try, no banana.

    You can never be completely safe, that is very true. But that does not mean it is not worth using the best materials, processes, training, and management possible. That argument is justification for so much evil behavior it sickens me. That’s why the mine owner in that horrible accident didn’t address his MULTIPLE violations, right?

    So it doesn’t matter to make an effort to ensure things are safe because you can’t be perfectly safe? What a f*cking pathetic argument. You can’t be that stupid, can you?

  7. chuck says:

    Maybe I’ve been listening to Adam Curry’s crackpot ideas too long, but it does seem rather coincidental that:

    1. Obama announces he will allow (limited) off-shore drilling.
    2. There’s a big off-shore drilling disaster.
    3. Obama announces he won’t allow off-shore drilling.

  8. t0llyb0ng says:

    It is indeed alarming that the WSJ writer conflates “cement” with “concrete.”

    & from the article:

    “Halliburton had finished cementing the 18,000-foot well shortly before the explosion.”

    Begs the question: Did they give the newly poured concrete enough time to cure? Concrete ain’t super-glue.

  9. a says:

    @7

    Maybe I’ve been listening to Adam Curry’s crackpot ideas too long, but it does seem rather coincidental that:

    1. Obama announces he will allow (limited) off-shore drilling.
    2. There’s a big off-shore drilling disaster.
    3. Obama announces he won’t allow off-shore drilling.

    You need to check your head man.

  10. Mech says:

    As a mechanical engineer who specializes in analyzing, estimating and averting risk, I can say without question that GigG #4 – you are WRONG. When things are done correctly and when steps are taken to minimize risk (within acceptable cost ranges), things DO NOT just happen.

    Things just happen when lobbyists line the pockets of right-wingers who don’t care about people. Especially poor and black people.

  11. bobbo, telling shit from shinola says:

    #10–mech==thank you for being a scientist and providing our society with the services you do.

    So much better than magical thinking or that humans have no role to play in how society actually functions.

    How many aircraft accidents would we have without effective regulations, inspections, training, safety boards etc? Certainly “more” if we adopted gig’s formulation of the way things work/don’t work.

    Glad you posted.

    BTW–silly to harp on cement/concrete, the technical product versus colloquial language. I thought it was called “mud” anyway but that might be something else again. Its not the point of the article which is apparent regardless of the terminology.

  12. daryl says:

    GigG is right. i have done this job (back in the 60’s) and have never seen nor heard of blowout caused during the cementing process. lets face it, millions of wells have been cemented and rarely has a blowout occured for any reason.
    milo; yes its cement no sand or gravel is used.

  13. philgar says:

    I heard Halliburton killed Jesus too!

  14. SimonSezz says:

    I think this oil disaster will be the beginning of the end for the oil industry in America. BP will probably end up getting sued by so many states/cities/people that it will go the way of Exxon. There will be so many new safety regulations and ecological requirements that it won’t be worth it for the oil companies to drill near the United States anymore. It really might be a blessing in disguise.

  15. Gazbo says:

    daryl – you and GigG may very well be right and this was an edge case, or you may be wrong and somebody screwed the pooch due to bad management, lax oversight, etc; either way the larger question – just NEVER asked or answered anymore – is whether society is served by allowing the worlds most profitable enterprises (oil folks)to keep making buckets of money while we clean up their poo-poo.
    Same question to several other corporations.The SCOTUS may think they’re “people”, but they’re not immortal.

  16. Awake says:

    One of the big questions here is why the well did not have a remote controlled shutoff valve, so if there was a disaster on the rig, at least they could try to shut off the valve from a lifeboat or another vessel by sending it a coded signal. It is called an “Acoustic Switch”, and is required to be in place by other countries such as Norway and Brazil. But the USA does not require it. It may not have been able to shut off the valve, but if it were there at least we could try… as is right now there is nothing that can be done.

    And as always, we the people will end up paying for everything. BP will just raise their prices and stick us with the tab for the cleanup.

  17. Mextli says:

    #11 “I thought it was called “mud” anyway but that might be something else again”

    Mud is a chemical mixture used to lubricate the drill bit and flush the cuttings out of the hole.

    More than you wanted to know huh?

  18. Mextli says:

    #2 smartalix
    “we have now pooched the Gulf Coast due to sloppy quick-and-cheap processes.

    Can anyone explain this to me in coherent logical statements backed by facts existing somewhere they can be referenced?”

    Sounds like you are going to have a stroke man.

    Can you explain to me in coherent logical statements backed by facts existing somewhere they can be referenced that sloppy quick-and-cheap processes were employed?

  19. bobbo, telling cement from mud says:

    #17–Mextli–no, its good to be reminded. I knew that at one time. My dry hole of a memory.

  20. BubbaRay says:

    smartalix said, on April 30th, 2010 at 11:24 am.

    >>We have a devastated economy – why is the GOP blocking financial reform?

    Why has Obama and the left put us into a debt situation from which we’ll not recover for many years? Trillions in the hole. The economy will continue to suck. Hello, inflation, goodbye retirement.

    >>why did the right try to block healthcare reform?

    Uh, because the bill sucks? Dumb Pelosi said, “We need to pass it so we can learn what’s in it.” Woo-hoo. Drs. will be retiring early because they know they’ll get screwed. Since when has the govt. run anything better and more efficiently than private industry?

    >>Can someone tell me why the right fights so hard for the right to be selfish and evil (what WOULD Christ do? I doubt it would involve selling people bad investments)?

    Can you provide references that it’s all the right’s fault? What, the left had nothing to do with it? They are all righteous and good? Get real.

    >>What is so wrong about making sure everyone is safe and healthy?

    Nothing, except the govt. usually lines the pockets of people I’d rather not see get the money. Redistribution of wealth is not the answer.

    Sure, blame it all on the right. As far as I’m concerned, left and right are all crooks.

  21. Halliburton says:

    Have you about Obama and his communist healthcare plan to kill your grandmother?

  22. Daniel Kaiser says:

    #10 Well said.

    “It’s only common sense. There are no accidents around here…”

    Peter Gabriel

  23. boolez says:

    First, Cheney is a true American hero who helped to make us safe after 9/11. Second, mistakes due happen and Halliburton is the best in the biz but far from perfect. Check their record against their competitors and I’d hire anyone from Halliburton in a heartbeat. If anything this crackpot theory makes more sense then Cheney trying to blow up the country.

    http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1367.htm

  24. bobbo, telling cement from mud says:

    #20–Bubba==quite the firebrand today. I’ve noticed a positive correlation between my “emotional level” and how accurate I am. Yourself?

    I could parse your statements but I’ll go with a general review here.

    Yes, both parties are corrupt, but not all corruption is the same. Repugs are corrupt, bought and paid for by the religious right and the Corporate Welfare Queens. They pander to these groups and go to extreme lengths to curry their favor. Dems are corrupt, bought and paid for by Unions and the Corporate Welfare Queens. You see the similarity==I know you do. BUT HERE IS THE DIFFERENCE WHILE THEY ARE STILL THE SAME: The Dems pander to their power base and go to extreme lengths to curry their favor.

    WE THE PEOPLE tend to get more scraps when the Unions are overfed rather than when the RELIGIOUS RIGHT gets overfed.

    Only very stupid people focus only on similarities, or only differences. Star gazers contemplating the ultimate reality really should be considering both? Compare and contrast? Weight the differing elements?

    Only an idiot votes Repuglican==unless you are a corporate elitist/top .1 per center.

  25. Obamaforever says:

    From: Obamaforever
    To: to whom it may concern

    First things first: I believe that Halliburton is Dick Cheney Inc.

    With that said I believe that we may never know what or who caused the rig accident and the valve not working. BP is not saying much. All we get is a half-ass sketch of what is going on the sea floor. BP could give us a more detailed idea of what it looks like at the sea floor. The reason that BP is not saying much is because it knows that anything they say can be used against them in a court of law.

    It is said that the valve was tested 10 days before the incident and found to be in working order. O.K., what does the word ‘tested’ mean? I do not think we will ever find out how the valve was tested. Everybody involved with the rig will make sure that the method by which the valve was tested will never be found out. And why? Again, the testing method could be used against them (i.e. the people involved with the rig) in a court of law.

    You may be thinking that they could bring up the valve and see why it did not work (well, not work fully). I am thinking that the valve is down there for good. They may be able to divert the oil into a new pipe, but they will want to keep the valve where it is. The valve will give them an added safety measure if the diverter pipe fails. Their thinking is that a half-closed valve is better than no valve. You may think that this a bunch of B.S. You may be right, but the valve will not be moved.

    What can be done so we will not have another disaster?

    Here are my recommendations:

    1. Test ALL equipment at the depth at which it will be used. I doubt that the valve was tested at 5000 feet. I hope that I do not have to say this, but in the case a Repuke is reading this, no oil should be used in the testing of the valve. One can replace the oil with a harmless fluid with the same characteristics.

    2. Make BP take out insurance. They are now self-insured. BP reasoning for being self-insured is that BP calculated the odds of a disaster and said that we can afford to take the risk of not being insured by a third-party. Well, we all know how that worked out, don’t we!

    If they are insured by an independent third-party the insurance company will make goddamn sure that all the necessary testing will be done before any drilling is performed. The insurance company does not want to pay out billions of dollars in damages.

    3. Besides an independent insurance company performing inspections we also need a group of inspectors comprised of people from academia who know the oil industry. These people should not receive any money from the oil industry. They should not be beholding to the oil industry in any way shape or form.

    We need another independent group of inspectors because we cannot afford to have another like disaster. The Gulf would become a cesspool if we have another disaster like the one we are having now. (Note: This may be a mute point. The current disaster may turn the Gulf into a cesspool anyway.)

    P.S. Maybe we can get bobbo to put on his scuba gear and dive down to the valve and fix the damn think. This should be no problem for a man of his abilities. Oh, no! I forgot that the valve is at 5000 feet. Maybe bobbo can do some modeling instead (inside joke, folks)!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. bobbo, not really concerned because I like dirty cheap oil says:

    Hey OBE==with your in depth real world experience, or your modeling expertise, given the cost of clean up, liability suits, lost oil isn’t it true that BIG OIL has every financial incentive to run safe rigs===or are they more like Virgina Coal Mines at sea?

    Your best thoughts?

  27. bobbo, not really concerned because I like dirty cheap oil says:

    Oh dirty oil! OBE==#25–OFE

    Obama
    For
    Ever

    Just exactly “why” no one can tell.

  28. Greg Allen says:

    How is that “Drill! Baby, drill!” working out for the good folks and businesses on the Gulf Coast?

    Remember — conservatives want MORE of this, not less.

  29. Skeptic of the AOBCCS says:

    Here’s a list of all the oil spills worldwide since 1940. So far the amount of oil spilled is small compared to other disasters. 75 in total, 25 in the just the last 10 years. So I would question whether engineering is going to make a difference in oil spills or not. Human error can be attributed to most, if not all of the events. Interestingly, 1/3 of the 75 total are US based.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills

  30. Obamaforever says:

    From: Obamaforever
    To: bobbo (aka Mr. Universal Knowledge)

    No one coal mine accident can approach the
    damage that this oil leak has caused and will
    cause. One could say that if you heap together
    all the damage that coal mining (and coal burning) has caused in the past, the present, and the future you would approach if not exceed the damage caused by the oil leak.

    I am assuming that the leak will not be fixed
    for months. If the valve closes completely (in a
    few days) the damage will be bad but not a disaster.

    Be it coal mining or oil drilling we need effective inspections. All we have had in the past eight years are George W. Bush-type of inspections. We all know how well that has worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As for modeling the valve we need to inspect
    (hands on) the valve. We would be working
    backwards so we would have to place another
    valve on the sea floor to see if our modeling
    made any sense or not. In any event it is doubtful we could duplicate the conditions that cause the original valve to fail. The modeling and the experiment of placing another valve on the sea floor would only give us feel of what caused the original valve to fail. Our modeling and experiment(s) would not be in vain thou
    because the modeling and experiments would
    help us to see what conditions would
    cause a valve to fail when we install valves
    in future installations.

    P.S. bobbo, you could ride in one of those
    one man deep sea submarines to inspect the
    valve. It would be rated for 4000 feet. Damn!
    there I go again forgetting that the valve is at
    5000 feet. Well, you could try. It wouldn’t hurt
    -much!!!


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