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BP Oil Whistleblower

 

Oil rig whistleblower Mike Williams said on the CBS TV program "60 Minutes" that BP authorities knew that the oil rig seals were broken when they ordered workers to step up the drilling.

BP 'ordered workers to drill quickly'

ALEX OGLE, May 17, 2010 - 4:54PM AFP

The massive explosions before the sinking of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico - leading to a massive slick - came after BP ordered a faster pace of drilling, a rig worker says.

With its complex drilling operations costing BP around $US1 million ($A1.13 million) a day and the extracting of oil behind schedule, Mike Williams, the rig's chief electronics technician, said a BP manager pressured workers to step up their pace.

Williams made the comments in an interview on the CBS TV program 60 Minutes, on Sunday.

 

"'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up'," Williams recalled of the BP manager's request. "And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down."

On the night of April 20, two days before the Deepwater Horizon rig sank, a geyser of mud and water shot 100 metres into the air above the rig and natural gas from below the sea found a spark to set the structure ablaze.

Workers were then shaken by huge explosions, diving into lifeboats or leaping into the murky Gulf waters below to escape the inferno, while 11 workers remained missing and presumed dead following the disaster.

"There's always pressure but yes, the pressure was increased," Williams said of BP's push to step up the pace.

In his view, Williams said that "communication seemed to break down as to who was ultimately in charge", with various managers from BP, who leased the rig, and from Transocean, who owned the rig, appearing to give conflicting orders on how to close the well.

The technician also said ahead of the explosion, and subsequent failure of the blowout preventer to seal the oil well in the event of an emergency, a crew member had accidentally damaged the all-important blowout preventer.

"A crewman on deck accidentally nudged a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force, and moving 15 feet (4.57 metres) of drill pipe through the closed blowout preventer," CBS said, with Williams adding that later "chunks" of the equipment's rubber shield were found to be missing.

In the chaotic moments before the explosions, Williams recalled how he knew something terrible was about to happen.

"I'm hearing hissing. Engines are over-revving. And then all of a sudden, all the lights in my shop just started getting brighter and brighter..." he said.

"My lights get so incredibly bright that they physically explode. I'm pushing my way back from the desk when my computer monitor exploded."

Injured, Williams managed to make it out of his workshop and grappled with the terrifying prospect of leaping into the choppy black ocean below.

"'We're going to burn up. Or we're going to jump'," Williams recalled telling a colleague.

"Maybe 90 feet (27.43 metres), 100 feet (30 metres). It's a long ways," he said of the distance from rig to water, saying he only remembers closing his yes and saying a prayer.

"I made those three steps, and I pushed off the end of the rig. And I fell for what seemed like forever."

 
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