Some good news

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by hemet dennis, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. hemet dennis

    hemet dennis Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  2. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    What a shame.Right up there with fracking.Big business wins again.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I worked in the oil industry for my entire career, including getting a permit for a pipeline through an environmentally sensitive area. Some, not all, environmental groups are totally illogical with an agenda to stop all oil production. Some, not all, oil company executives will build the cheapest pipeline they can regardless of the risks.

    One big concern is the ground the pipeline is built on. How stable is it? How likely is it that there will be ground movement that will break the pipeline? There are construction techniques that can be used in some conditions that make a break a lot less likely. Are they using those? Is there a safer route? How are they crossing rivers, highways, or railroad tracks or handling hilly terrain? The oil in the pipeline may have to be heated up. I have not seen this particular design but I expect it to be heated. How does that heated oil passing through affect the soils and stuff around it? They have to build pumping stations. What affect does that have? As that BP disaster in the Gulf showed, they have to be ready to handle accidents. What safety systems will they have in place to reduce the impact if there is an accident? Have all the archeological studies been done? What might be destroyed where this is being built?

    There are legitimate reasons for these things to be studied. It’s not unusual for the original proposed route to be changed based on these studies. Pipelines, if they are done right, are the safest way to transport the oil. But they have to be done right.

    The State Department got involved because it would cross an international boundary. Rest assured there are a lot of other government departments looking at it.

    This has turned pure political. By one side making such an issue of getting it built for jobs regardless of the risks, the other now has to have political cover before they can approve it. Otherwise they are going to be accused of being weak and giving in. I know some people thrive on this stuff and think it’s great, but I personally get disgusted with this brinksmanship and one-up-manship.

    Was it taking a long time to get through the studies? Of course. It does take time to do a proper study. And you are dealing with a bureaucracy. I was often disgusted with how long it took to get something through the bureaucracy of a major international oil company and the government is a lot worse.

    A good bureaucrat, whether in big business or in the government, knows exactly how long they have to make a decision based on their job description and are not going to be rushed. They know if they follow the letter of the law, whether written business policy or written laws, rules, and regulations, their job is pretty safe. If they get in a hurry and miss something, their job is at risk.

    As one secretary figured out, there were 16 people in my chain of command in that oil company that could say no and one at the very top that could say yes for my bigger projects. And he was not going to say yes until the other 16 said yes.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    As I said, I worked in the oil patch. Fracking, when done right, is safe. When not done right, it is risky.

    One problem I see is that the people approving the permits are going to follow the letter of the law when approving the permits. The people passing those laws, rules, and regulations are politicians. In theory they use experts in crafting those laws, rules, and regulations, and many do. The oil companies themselves provide a lot of that expertise. I was involved in reviewing a certain proposal that was being considered. What was being proposed had a basic flaw in it. I was able to point that out and get a better safer regulation written. The department I worked with wrote up a change to a regulation that was adopted. It reduced our costs to operate without reducing safety. We did sound engineering calculations to back that up. That was an example of changing a bad regulation.

    But ultimately the laws, rules, and regulations are approved by politicians that have very little, if any, expertise in what they are passing.

    Most of the technical people working for the oil companies are pretty good. But they are human and sometimes make mistakes. Some are pretty fresh out of college and don’t have enough experience. In both cases there are supposed to be supervisors reviewing the work. Some supervisors are better at this than others. Some oil companies have teams that are supposed to do a technical review and give an approval. Some, not all.

    I’ve had to point to a specific law, rule, or regulation to get a manager’s approval to do something that I considered required for safety. Managers have to manage budgets. If they can reduce costs it is a feather in their cap and can lead to promotion. Most came up through a specific discipline and had the expertise to make good decisions. Some trusted their in-house experts and did not question them really hard if those experts said it was required for safety. But some were really brutal in making us prove everything we did was required. It made my life a lot easier if I could point to a specific requirement in the regulations instead of going back to my basic engineering and trying to convince someone from a totally different background why it was required. Safety valves on pipelines was one area some often wanted to cut but they are required by regulations. Those valves are expensive.

    The oil patch has changed too. A few decades ago the major oil companies had their own in-house engineering staffs that did all the detail work. Now they contract most of that out. There are a lot of engineering small businesses servicing the oil patch. A lot of those are really good but some are run by people that are willing to cut corners. What they do is supposed to be reviewed by people in the oil company but again some people doing the review are better than others.

    Another big change in the oil patch is that there are now a lot of small independent oil companies that pretty much rely on the small businesses servicing the oil patch. Some of these smaller independents don’t have the staff with the expertise to know what they are approving. And in the 80’s, a lot of the people these smaller independent oil companies were hiring were the people the oil companies were letting go as they were downsizing and contracting a lot of their engineering work. Do you think the oil companies were going to get rid of their best people and keep the substandard performers?

    I’ve seen what some private businesses will do if they are not adequately overseen, inspected, or reviewed. Sometimes it is not real pretty. Most oil service companies, oil companies, and government regulators do a good job. That’s why you hear of so few accidents. But you are dealing with humans. Sometimes they make mistakes, whether by accident or on purpose to cut corners. The laws, rules, and regulations are approved by politicians, not technicians. That’s kind of scary.
     

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