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Must See: CNN Interview with Rig survivors: BP put profit over safety

June 9, 2010

Survivors tell Anderson Cooper that BP overruled TransOcean’s drill team and ordered cost cutting measures. BP ordered the drillers to use sea water rather than denser drilling mud. The drilling mud is more effective in countering the enormous pressure of the oil and gas coming up the well. As we’ve pointed out in previous posts, a key risk factor in the BP disaster was the enormous pressure and temperature of the oil reservoir located several miles below the bottom of the Gulf. Under these conditions, the last thing you want to do is cut corners.

The interview with the workers is very moving; the five survivors interviewed have been deeply affected by the explosion, their rescue and by the deaths of their 11 co-workers.  See the video.

See also CNN’s timeline for the BP disaster

Tony Hayward: "What me worry" Photo Source: BP

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 11:42 am

    BP is run by people. Institutions don’t make decisions or take short cuts, individuals do. All CEOs and executives of major corporations have two, intrinsically conflicting objectives: 1) maximizing personal gain in money and status, 2) maximizing the economic gains for the corporation. The idealist would say that by doing the second, the CEO and other executives insure the first. There is some truth in that, but far less than you think.

    A CEO, for example, maximizes his/her security and income by gaining control of the board of directors, rather easier to do than consistently optimizing corporate performance. Subordinate executives maximize their positions by kissing up to the CEO. The bloated compensations and continuing leadership of failed CEOs in Finance (and Big Oil) are merely examples of this fundamental problem.

    In my experience, most decisions made by executives in large corporations are geared to objective 1. By working within the corporate shelters these executives have found a way to maximize their personal objectives while minimizing personal risks; much like parasites which infest hapless hosts. So, they systematically risk the organization in ways that they wouldn’t if they had a personal stake in the consequences.

    Yes, Corporations need to be regulated but so too do the individuals who lead them. One of the reasons we are relatively safe on commercial flights is that the pilots, who are in charge from gate to gate share the passengers’ fates. If pilots were on the ground, remotely controlling the planes and paid bonuses for saving money on fuel and landing on time, there would be many more crashes.

    Financial and legal liability of top executives should be greatly increased. A safety officer, with the absolute authority to stop drilling when safety is compromised, should be on every rig. Placing a manager in charge who has responsibility for safety and for budget, and then incentivizing him only for budget results, is a recipe for continued disasters.

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      June 10, 2010 12:10 pm

      Ed Lee, with considerable experience as an entrepreneur, identifies a serious hole in the regulatory system. Here is a questions for Ed and others,

      What role does the “corporate veil” play in protecting against abuses by corporate decision makers?

      What do we need to do to strengthen the ability of whistle blowers to blow the whistle?

      We also invite readers to view Ed Lee’s Blog — which has many insightful posts on society, economics and the environment, “Dismounting Our Tiger” at

  2. Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
    June 9, 2010 6:38 pm

    Henry S. Cole will be on vacation from June 11th to June 21st. Watch for some interesting posts by Blog Manager Keon Monroe during that time.

    A good time for a dialogue with our inner mother nature and father earth. And a good time to take action.”

    Hank Cole

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