Now that the kill seems to have worked on the BP oil spill, I will update and give the range of how this compares globally. I want to put down in writing a few thoughts before that, though.
First, I thought BP's refocusing of the story to the engineering issues faced in plugging the leak was brilliant. The press picked up on what an amazing engineering feat this was, it is naturally an apolitical story, the graphics were compelling, and it contrasted nicely with bureaucrats pointing at each other and blaming and pontificating. Gimme a team of world class engineers any day.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about this which was somewhat informative and somewhat entertaining. As a deep water drilling engineer I know told me...
"This has been damn interesting, because I generally don't know anything about what is in the news. Now comes a story where I know EVERYTHING there is to know, and the way they misconstrue things is astounding!"
In any case, the WSJ article has one part in it that is telling and hellishly entertaining. We all know that BP is/was an aggressive driller. Long string where others would drill out from intermediate, etc. This story shows something we have all been in. A well, way over budget, and folks just trying to finish the job and get off a hole that people are getting reamed out by management every day for busting their AFE (Authority for Expenditure). Exactly the kind of environment where mistakes are made.
Towards the bottom of the story, he interviews a Halliburton spokesperson about BP's practices, particularly in regards to the spacers used to hold the pipe in place for cementing. Halliburton (and to be fair, other contractors as well), want you to buy as many of these things as possible. You, on the other hand, want to buy just what is necessary. This is the constant dynamic of the oilpatch. The Halliburton rep's statement was "were not consistent with industry best practices," they were "within acceptable industry standards". Ie, if they had just used 21 like we wanted to sell them, this could have been avoided.
Brilliant marketing! Soon we will be legislated on exactly which and how many services to buy from Halliburton and Schlumberger! Wonderful. "Best Practices" here we come! I am buying Halliburton stock today.