Thursday, July 14, 2005

(UPDATED) Thunderhorse stable, investigation begins.

I only have limited info now, I will update later as I get more. I am hearing that BP's Thunderhorse platform in the Gulf of Mexico is flooding and listing. There is concern that BP may loose it if the flooding cannot be controlled. This is the largest platform ever built. It was built in South Korea and was floated around the Horn of Africa to Corpus where it was outfitted before being put on station by the Blue Marlin, the same vessel that brought the USS Cole back from Oman.

Here is a link to the information I have access to.


BP has had an ROV inspect the hull and can find no external damage. Two of the port side ballast tanks had flooded leaving the rig with a 20 degree+ list to port. The data recorders have been retrieved to try to get to the bottom of the cause. At least one of the Gas Turbine Power Plants has been restarted. Pumping operations to right the platform have begun. A Winch apparently went over the side Friday prior to evacuation, but there does not appear to be any evidence that it damaged anything on the way down. (other than itself that is...)

Now for blatant speculation:
For my money, I'm betting either a design flaw in the active ballast control system, or valve failure in the same system. I'm guessing but I'd bet that acellerometers were used to determine the motion of the platform. if the sampling or pumping rate was too slow, the system might have gone into resonance and the active ballast system might have contributed to the list. assuming it was active at all. if it was locked down prior to evacuation then my money is on valve failure in the ballast system.

Roaring Tiger's Blog Big Cat Chronicles is also all over this.


With Emily fast approaching The Southeastern GOM, BP is probably balls to the wall trying to get this thing stable and sorted. They only have probably 3-4 days max before they will have to evacuate the platform again. I cannot concieve of a caretaker crew being left onboard given the currently unknown nature of the system failure. Given BP's problems with safety lately, I cannot believe they would risk a crew to babysit this thing, even if it's loss would seriously hurt them as it surely would. I do not have any illusions that it could survive even a glancing blow with the "dirty side" of a hurricane in it's current configuration.

UPDATE III 7-14-06 4:09 PM CST
BP has issued another press release basically restating what has been said before with the exception of a line about preparations to cover ballast inlets and instrumentation ports in the hull. Is this saying that a ballast inlet cover was lost? or an instrumentation port left open? HMMM....


Blogger Cory said...


This hasn't been highly reported in the Comical, so I've been thankful that I can track the story here.


July 14, 2005 4:57 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

You're welcome. I feel that far too many people do not grasp the costs and risks involved in filling thier gas tank. People see $2.50 gasoline and just assume the oil companies are raping them. They don't realize billions of dollars and years of planning, design, technology development and manufacturing have gone into the development of just this one field, and it hasn't produced a single drop of oil yet. There are at least 20 industry "firsts" in this one rig. Anytime you do something for the first time there are risks involved.
I've been in contact with both Loren Steffy And Tom Fowler on this and yeah, Tom Fowler's first attempt was two sentences and otherwise pretty lame. The second follow up story wasn't bad but it basically was a restatement of BP's press release. Same with his second one. He didn't seem to grasp the gravity of the situation nor the financial impact it might have if things were to go south. Can't really bitch too much, unless you've got an "in" in the industry which I do, and know something of how the system works, you don't get the details and understand the implications. These guys are writers, to them, an oil rig is an oil rig is an oil rig. Loren's blog entry kinda hacked me off a bit. I e-mailed him data and links about it first thing Monday morning when I heard about it and half an hour later there is his entry without any notation about where the data or head's up came from. And again, he didn't seem to grasp the money side of the situation. And he calls himself a business reporter...

Keep readin, I'll keep rantin...

July 14, 2005 7:19 PM  
Blogger Kathy Herrmann said...

Thanks for the engineering thoughts. I just added a link back to your article.

July 15, 2005 8:22 AM  

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