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Key rig alarm disabled before blast : rig worker
Category : General 24 Jul 2010 02:07 AM | Industry News
Rig worker Mike Williams testified to a panel of federal investigators during a hearing on Friday that Deepwater Horizon was plagued with technical problems since its inception. He said that the computer system had been freezing up for months, producing the all-too-familiar Blue Screen of Death. "It'd just turn blue. You'd have no data coming through," Williams said, noting that the system operated in this condition for months, and that replacement software had been ordered but not installed at the time of the explosion.
Transocean, the company that leased the rig to BP, claimed in a statement that the emergency alarm system had been turned off in order to stop it "from sounding unnecessarily when one of the hundreds of local alarms activates for what could be a minor issue or a non-emergency." But Williams also said that a Transocean official had turned off another system for removing dangerous gases from the drilling shack. When he questioned Mark Hay, the subsea supervisor, about the decision, he was told, "No, the damn thing's been in bypass for five years... The entire fleet runs them in 'bypass.'"
At this week’s hearings, Transocean officials recited a litany of mechanical problems that plagued the rig, which was 43 days behind schedule in drilling the Macondo well – called the “well from hell” by rig workers.
Mr. Williams, who has filed a lawsuit against Transocean, said a computer system that monitored well-drilling operations, known as the “A chair,” was often offline due to technical issues.
“We called it the blue screen of death,” Mr. Williams said. “It would turn blue and you would have no data coming through.”
Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill, has asked Transocean for documents concerning safety and the condition of equipment on the rig.