One year anniversary of BP oil spill: Was it the Blow Out Preventer (BOP)?

Today is the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that had devastated the Gulf. Things look much better today but the mystery of the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) is not resolved as BP sues Cameron for the BOP failure.

Cameron the BOP supplier claims that  “Hydrocarbons had entered the riser well before the crew attempted to activate the BOP, and even a perfectly functioning BOP could not have prevented the explosions.”  Government forensic investigations indicated  that the BOP pincers could not seal off  the slightly off center drill pipe. That there was something wrong in the pipes that caused the BOP to malfunction is also indicated in a Norwegian test report says Reuter. BP's position is that the BOP did not do what it was supposed to do, ie prevent a blow out!

The Senate hearing that this blog reported seems a long time ago but brings us back to some fundamental B2B and supply chain questions as illustrated by the Cameron/BP/Transocean tangle:

  1. Suppliers like Cameron supply a product according to the order specifications. If the buyer does not  explicitly consider the thick pipes very deep underwater use situation, should the supplier bring this up?
  2. Do the engineering folks at  the off-shore user end  of Transocean/BP clearly articulate the uncertainties of very deep drilling to their onshore supply chain people so that  a better BOP product specification is developed?
  3. Should both buyer and seller think about the "product in use" challenge ?  For example, thick pipes that could possibly get misaligned,deep under the sea and  cause the BOP to malfunction.

Too often in the B2B and Supply Chain world everyone involved is just happy to develop order specifications on the buy side and meet specifications and get paid on the sell side. Without really considering the installation,use and use conditions.

Meanwhile the answer to "Was it the Blow Out Preventer"? will continue to  elude us.

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