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BP Oil Operations — Operate to Failure


“Operate to failure” is reportedly BP Oil’s instructions to employees in the operation of its oil drilling locations. Reportedly, that means BP runs equipment until it breaks down before spending any money on upkeep.

This information was reported today in an article discussing the investigation of conditions existing in a BP operation in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This is a BP operation, which has already suffered two previous oil spills and employees there predict the potential for a spill that “could rival the havoc in the Gulf”. The most recent spill occurred in November of 2009 and resulted in 45,828 gallons (1,091 barrels) of oil material deposited on the pristine Prudhoe environment.

A man who has been an employee of BP for over 30 years stated that, “The condition of the [Prudhoe Bay] field is a lot worse and in my opinion a lot more dangerous. We still have hundreds of miles of rotting pipe ready to break that needs to be replaced. We are totally unprepared for a large spill.”

TruthOut reported the testimony of an employee who wished anonymity due to fear of reprisal:

“With minimum manning in maintenance and operations we are basically running a broken plant with too few people to address the problems in a timely and safe manner,” the employee said. “Operations can not rely on Management to provide them with a safe and reliable plant to work in. The management of our maintenance at [Lisburne Production Center] simply is not working to maintain a safe operation. This gap in maintenance management causes problems that increase the overall risk of plant integrity and personnel safety.”

Back in the Gulf, we have heard repeated reports of malfunctioning equipment; cutbacks on safety; dead batteries on the blow out equipment; and an overall inadequate design in safety devices.

Back in the Gulf, BP has not spilled a thousand barrels of oil, they continue to spew 20,000 barrels every single day.

From the reports we have seen so far, it seems pretty clear that the same “operate to failure” theme that seems to exist in Prudhoe Bay was also practiced at the Deepwater Horizon well.

What is perhaps more disturbing is that the “industry standards” described by oil officials in testimony before Congress, sound more like minimum effort – maximum profit thinking from the entire industry.

What should we have been able to expect?

As I have suggested in previous articles, my oversight of BP and the rest of Big Oil would have involved:

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