June 04, 2010

A Week Of Failure

Not a good week, eh?

The euro continues to freefall. 1.2043 to the £ last time I looked. Although I remain ecstatic at the prospect of this failure, I am wise enough to know that it will cause much pain for those that rely on this currency. Behind the euro failure is the real prize: the downfall of that abomination we call the EU.

The Macondo well in the GOM continues to stump all efforts at killing the flow of hydrocarbons. Obama, and his Court of Fools, are talking now about shoving the experts out of the way so that they can rush in and save the day. Quite how thousands of pen-pushers are going to stop an out of control well, Christ only knows.What they fail to understand is that this is a unique blow-out. I have seen nothing like it in my 22 years in the oil industry. What I do know is this: if even the worlds best are having trouble, the very last thing you do is tell them that you, a politician or a civil servant, intend to take over.

The taxi driver in Whitehaven failed as a human being. He failed to keep his emotions in check. He failed to put his guns out of his own reach, knowing, as he must have done, that he was unstable. He failed to give his victims even a fair chance at survival. But mostly, he failed to blow his own fucking insane head off first.

Twice this week I have failed to land major contracts. Personal failure is hard to bear. Particularly when you know that there are people depending on your success so that they can continue to be employed, and feed and care for their own families. I try not to dwell on it, and it usually forces me to redouble my efforts.

The point of failure, I think, is to remind us that we are fallible. We are human, and we make mistakes. We learn, and we move on. Or rather, we should.

The euro will fail. The fabled European Union was an impossible dream that has morphed into a region-wide nightmare. Stapling 20 odd countries together by conning them, and themselves, that we are all the same was destined to fail. The only question was when. We have different politics, different cultures, and different economies. Trade agreements were the best we could have hoped for. And why not? We have been trading with some of these people for centuries. Occasionally we stopped, had a little spat, shook hands, and carried on. It wasn't broke and we tried to fix it. Are we learning yet, politicians?

The Macondo blow-out will have enormous ramifications. Not just for the environment, but for the operators (BP, Shell, Conoco, Exxon, Tullow, etc), for the drillers (Noble, Rowan, Transocean, Nabors, KCA Deutag etc) and also for the service companies like mine, and like Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes. The pain will be felt by us all. Thanks to Macondo, around 24 semi-submersible rigs (now no longer able to drill the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico) will be released from their contracts (probably under Force Majeur) and will flood the world market, driving down day rates for the rigs which will inevitably cause unemployment. My guess is that we will see further consolidation in the industry. The industry will recover, as it always does. The damage to the environment is another consideration entirely. This failure has the potential to harm millions, human and animal alike.

The massacre in Cumbria will be discussed endlessly. The bereaved will not be left alone to grieve. The press will hound them remorselessly. Headlines have to be written. The human tragedy has to be catalogued. Newspapers and magazines must be sold. Exclusives will be pumped out in their dozens. And most of them are still speculating. We cannot ever know the motive for these senseless killings because the lunatic that committed them is dead. The very best we can do from this point on is guess. There will be hysteria from certain quarters about gun control. There may well be knee-jerk policies from the LiTors, but hopefully they will remain calm, and accept this for what it was: a random event perpetrated by a man who had become unhinged.

My own failures this week are minor. I only mentioned them because none of us are immune. What is vital is that we address them, we accept them, we make changes if they are absolutely necessary, and we move on.

Mr Beaver in the picture is, of course, fucked. One can only hope his relatives developed new chopping skills or were a little faster on their feet at the "Tim-berrr" moment..

This weekend I have more failure planned. I will fail to stay sober. I will fail to avoid fatty foods. I will fail to avoid several packs of Lucky Strikes.

Enjoy your weekend. I know I will.



Sgt Pepperspray said...

Aye Aye Captain. I see Sarah Palin is blaming the whole BP Fuckup on Environmentalists. Now I am in no way an expert on these mattersbut I would imagine that if Bush and Cheney would not have stripped away legislation allowing BP to drill without the acoustic shut of device then this catastrophe would not have happened. I believe that Other countries Norway etc make it compulsory to use the acoustic devices but BP were more interested in saving the half a million dollars that such a device would cost.

Captain Ranty said...


You could be right.

There are many types of BOP's (Blow Out Preventers. Also known as Christmas Trees), and I don't know which type was used on Macondo, nor do I know why it malfunctioned.

BP, like all the other operators, rarely stint on safety. A drilling rig (or a production platform) is a high risk working environment and no expense is spared when training personnel. It is one of the most highly regulated industries as far as HS&E are concerned. I would be very surprised if they did not use the acoustic unit for economic reasons.

Like Cumbria, we have to wait for a thorough report before settling on the reasons why.


Giolla said...

Hadn't picked up on this bit before: "22 years in the oil industry"
gosh it's a terribly small sort of world, 7-ish years ago I didn't know anyone in the industry now I can't move for tripping over people.

It's a bit of a topic of conversation in the office at the moment as to just what the longer term impact is going to be. Though we were lucky enough to not be directly involved (by a close shave)

Captain Ranty said...


I am in telecoms, but we only provide O & G companies with our services.

We didn't have anyone onboard the Horizon either.

We lost a couple of guys on Piper Alpha but I didn't know either of them. (Two died and two survived).

I've had a few close shaves: dodgy landings in choppers, and a couple of tows I did on jack ups were scary when the ships towing us lost power. Been on a couple of rigs where the sea anchors snapped. A bit scary but nothing that a boil wash in Vim couldn't put right. Those stains came right out.


James Higham said...

That's what comes of chopping wood.

Lord Hutton said...

Great post, Captain.
To quote a friend of mine "people often forget that we are human beings" and I believe that no amount of legislation would be able to stop the tragedy that happened in Cumbria. If someone really wants to kill someone else, they will find a way (be it using knives, driving into them etc etc).
By the sound of things Cameron might well have his head screwed on, they way he accepts that we have the tightest gun laws in the western world (bar Japan). I hope he leave the law as it stands. Anyways, just my two pence worth.

Captain Ranty said...

Thanks LH.

I think that this will be their first big test.

I hope they do the right thing.

The right thing to do, of course, is nothing.


killemallletgodsortemout said...

Spot-on, Ranty. Great post. Enjoy your weekend, and start afresh next week!

richard said...

re: the loony who failed to blow his own head off first. The guy had no history of mental illness, and no record of being a bad'un; he apparently went insane. If he was insane, he wasn't responsible for his actions and cannot be blamed. Mr Ishmael (always worth a read) has a slightly different take on the matter, and wonders if people, such as Cumbria Cabbie at breaking point, couldn't be saved by common human decency which seems to be lacking in popular culture cf. Alan Sugar, Simon Cowell etc, who make the most of the modern equivalent of laughing at loonies in Bedlam.