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Deepwater Horizon Design Flaws

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  • deepwaterhorizonflaws-owner@yahoogroups.c
    Deepwater Horizon design flaws DEEPWATER HORIZON The Deepwater Horizon was plagued with several automation deficiencies which the news media has chosen
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2010
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      Deepwater Horizon design flaws
      The Deepwater Horizon was plagued with several automation deficiencies which the news media has chosen to ignore.  I've sent this information to several media outlets in Houston Texas and to the Associated Press.
      1. MISSING DRAWWROKS INTERLOCKS - According to a 60 Minutes report, a crewman bumped the joystick to the drawworks controls, jerking 15' of drill stem through the annular BOP's packer seal.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0onXmlFgF8I  (6:00) Later, part of the rubber came floating to the surface in the mud tanks and was ignored.  Elevator cars in multi-story buildings are automatically interlocked not to move when the doors are open.  If the drawworks controls were interlocked through the TEST procedure (see sample relay logic photo), the drill stem could not have moved while the packer was clamped around it. Since the RAM BOP failed due to tampering, the annular BOP's packer sleeve might have provided enough protection to help seal  the well had it not been damaged http://www.c-a-m.com/content/products/product_detail.cfm?pid=2793.
      2. MISSING AUTOMATED EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN - When the blowout first occurred, the rig deck was flooded with methane gas.  It was several  seconds, after being told NO, that  operations activated the EDS and nothing happened.  With the proper automation, the gas detectors should have shutdown drilling activity, sealed and diverted the well.  If that did not work, then activate the shear rams and disconnect (EDS) (which did not work anyway).  That's how it should be.  Smoke detectors in a high rise buildings can shutdown elevators (recall - bring them to them bottom floor and lock them out) and activate pressurization fans to blow any smoke out of stairwells.  You can't rely on operations to make the right decisions at the right time  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704113504575264721101985024.html
      3.  MISSING DIESEL ENGINE AIR DAMPER SHUTOFFS - The engines ingested the methane gas and ran wild (see 60 minutes report above)  http://wap.kprc2.com/detail.jsp?key=548936&rc=ln_ne&p=2.  This would not have happened with air damper shutoffs installed in the air intakes.  They were standard on GM and Caterpillar engines in the 70's, I use to wire controls for them all the time and still see them on older GM fire pump engines.  The engines should have been equipped with air damper shutoffs.  Here is an example of one of the air damper shutoffs from a Houston company http://www.amot.com/us/products/4262.asp.  They are latched like a mouse trap, an electric solenoid, wired to the overspeed controls, releases it.   Overspeed safeties probably shut the engine diesel fuel off, the engines ran away on the methane gas - I've seen this happen before.  The diesel engines can run on a wide variety of fuel, including their own engine oil, but they won't run without air.
      4. NO UPS SYSTEM?   The critical computer controls should have been wired to a UPS system which would have immediately switched to safe power during bad/no power,  not much info on that - computer monitors exploding etc. (see 60 Minutes report above).  The excess voltage from the generators would have easily blown control circuit fuses for critical emergency shutdown systems.
      5.  NO DIESEL BACK UP FIRE PUMPS - When the generators (and electric power) failed,  the electric fire pumps failed http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/oil_spill_hearings_2.html  - Testimony of motorman Paul Meinhart III.    The rig should have been equipped with at least diesel fire pumps as back ups.   This happened to Phillips 66 in 1989.
      6. The rig listed over on it's side and sank.  This appears to be the second ballast failure along with a history of "reported" problems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_drilling_rig_explosion
      "The Deepwater Horizon did, however, have other serious incidents, including one in 2008 in which 77 people were evacuated from the platform when it listed and began to sink after a section of pipe was accidentally removed from the platform's ballast system"   This may indicate a problem with the ballast piping, valves and pumps in harms way.  Emergency isolation needs to be installed in the controls and out of harms way (below deck) to prevent damage during such an explosion above deck.  Not much info on this on the rig layout that I can find.
      There is a reason there are autopilots on airplanes - not just so the pilot can take a nap.  The autopilot can make faster, and correct decisions, especially during turbulence within the plane's design limits.   This rig, and others, should be better equipped with proper process automation.  If you check the US Chemical Safety Board's website you'll find their own request to maintain process automation.
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