Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Watching the BP live feed reminded me of the crane game
Watching BP engineers working on the BOP last night I had wondered if they were going to do a video feed blackout but I guess their PR guys thought better. I watched off and on for a couple of hours while they unbolted a piece from the blow out preventer. I see now why it's taking so long. It took well over an hour for them to unscrew four bolts and remove the piece. I don't think that we'll be seeing any deepwater drilling in the near future but if there is they'll really need some design changes.
It's now been established that what got them into this mess was cutting corners on the process. They were too hasty to get the rig up and running to do the job right. And just how much money would they have saved in the process. Figures I'm hearing were about $6 million a day. Multiply that by 7 to 14 days and you get a max of $84 million. Then you stop to consider what this is going to cost in the long run (in the tens of billions) and that 84 million doesn't sound like a lot. But who has the guts to stand up and say "something is wrong we can not proceed." Because I know what the answer to that would be. "You're going to be responsible for holding up a miltibillion dollar project?"
I've personnely witnessed this corporate attitude before in my own profession. It starts simple enough. Save money and cut costs becomes the mantra. It will work for a while but then at some point you end up with a rogue company that ignores all safety rules because you know safety costs money that could be going to the bottom line. I recall working for one company and noticed that we were picking up workers left and right from another. Then the truth started to come out that the other company was so bad with safety their workers were leaving.
And this is how it really works in corporate America. Upper management puts pressure on middle management for increased productivity and greater profits. Middle management puts the screws to lower management who inturn lays it on the worker. The worker has two options. Either do the job as they were told or get replaced. And when the poop hits the fan it's the worker who takes the blame. Supervisors always lie and demand evidence. In the case of BP it was upper management who told their underlings to go ahead and do the job wrong but you think they'll see the inside of a jail cell?