Explain the process by which BP gets a fresh permit to drill in the Gulf

I don’t want to believe our government is hopelessly corrupt, but I am having a hard time coming up with some other explanation for how BP can be allowed to drill in the Gulf again, or at least right away. Help!

My mental image of the process is admittedly pretty simple. There are a few guys in an office sorting through stacks of applications. “Ok, Total Oil. Everything is in order, they have no outstanding violations. Allright, check.”

And then, “Allright, Marathon Oil. Everything is in order, they have no outstanding violations. Check!”

And then: “BP. Hmmm, looks like they caused the worst environmental disaster is US history, and the worst peacetime oil spill in world history. That disaster was the result of gross negligence, after an appalling safety record that can only be viewed as ‘disregard for human health and safety’ and ‘contempt for regulations.’ 100% avoidable, but they couldn’t be bothered. Their blunder shut down the entire industry in the Gulf for about a year- not just for them but for everybody. Thousands of jobs lost, billions of innocent creatures tits-up for no good reason whatsoever. People weeping coast to coast, not even all of them are hippies, and the nation continues to endure an endless media barrage of happy horseshit about what great guys they are at BP. Yeah well, remember what good coke they had in the MMS days? And their hookers were soooper hot. If we don’t do that in the actual office, guys, I think we can get away with it this time. Everyone is the soul of discretion? And look- the paperwork is in order… check!”

:confused::confused::confused::confused::confused: wtf? :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:

I just don’t get it. The account above cannot be correct. Dopers, time to fight some ignorance!

Well they haven’t been have they?

If/when they do I imagine that it will be granted because whoever obtains the permit will convince the govt they have fixed the problem that caused the blowout.

It’s probably also worth bearing in mind that as I understand it the rig that suffered the blowout was Transocean’s, not BP’s.

I guess I’m not sure. I got the impression it was a shoe-in. Lemme think about it.

Who cares? I think some kind of time-out ought to be mandatory in a case like this, no matter what noises BP makes. At least wait for the courts (and not just some guy on the internet) to say whether or not it was a case of gross negligence. GN is certainly believable from here.

I hope we can stick to the process by which BP gets a fresh permit to drill in the Gulf.


Because the OP said the big oil spill was BP’s mistake, and the other poster was saying it may not have been? :confused:

Do you want us to drill in the Gulf or buy oil from Saudi Arabia? (Not that I support the drill here at home thing, but Mexico is our #2 supplier and Canada is our #1.)

wild guess: the defense department needs lots of oil and BP is on the ‘preferred’ list.

I expect that the permit process would take more notice of detailed study of how the incident occurred than hysteria amongst people on the internet. I raised Transocean because it is directly relevant to your question.

Does anyone believe BP is not ultimately responsible for the spill? No irony, I am simply asking a… general question.

Honestly I don’t want BP to drill in the Gulf this year and probably next, regardless of other considerations.

The Defense Department never asks me anything. Looks like I’m the one asking questions.

Typically the permit process does not provide any discression outside of what it legally provided for in the terms of reference for the process. Descisions based upon perception of early performance are typically not the province of salaried public servants, but is left to politicians. And for once, this is really the right place. If the US wishes to prevent BP from further work in the Gulf, they should legislate so. Things like this cannot be expected to be left to faceless public servants, in either direction.

I watched the Mancodo disaster with great interest and have read most of the reports. Whilst it is easy to point the finger at BP as some sort of major corporate criminal, it is vastly more complex. The US government was complicit due to a long standing erosion of oversight, most of the other players in the Gulf drew a breath of relief, when it wasn’t them that had the failure. Turns out that there are a substantial number of near misses each year, and the BP well was as much a case of bad luck, when all the safety systems failed in a line. There have been numerous failures in other wells, drilled by other oil companies, where all bar one safety mechanism failed.

BP has been sighted for significant lapses that contributed, and rightly so. Transocean are hardly blameless, and also slow signs of significant safety culture problems. The oil drilling industry in general is far from blameless. The industry is very decentralised, with most jobs done by sub-contractors. Halliburton and Shumberger for instance. Most of the guys working on the well were not BP employees, and would be the same guys working on other company’s rigs at other times.

In reality BP do have a problem, but they are not some sort of criminal outlier that requires singling out for special punishment separate from their peers.

I’m not hysterical, and anyway that term is no longer considered accurate:

BP is ultimately responsible, unless I am mistaken. Which is possible- I’m the question asker, so I don’t assume I also have the answers.

No, you’re trying to start a … Great Debate!

The factual answer to your question is, yes, there do exist people who don’t believe that BP is ultimately responsible for the Gulf oil spill.

But there are quite a lot of people who believe the world was created in six days 6,014 years back. What they believe doesn’t make it so.

The issue is whether Transocean, Haliburton, and/or BP were the ones whose actions caused the spill. Without having gone injto it deeply enough to render a just decision, since my opinion is not what rules in this case, I think there appears to be sufficient blame all around.

But IF BP were themselves the soul of regulation-following environment-minded model corporate citizen they would no doubt wish us to believe they were. and were the victim of Transocean and/or Haliburton trying to make a little extra money off their contract with BP by skimping on safety measures, then yeah, they deserve to get a permit — one that makes sure they monitor better their subcontractors.

Personally, I think the entire industry, with negligible exceptions, is as amoral as a bunch of Washington lobbyists, but that doesn’t mean I cannot say we need to be fair and apportion blame where it is due and not where it is unjustified.

If you think BP should never drill another well because they were the ultimate source of the contracts that led to the spill, I won’t argue loudly. But make your case in a debate thread, with cites. What people believe to be the case without factual evidence to prove out their beliefs doesn’t belong in GQ.

I suspect though that the GQ answer to your question is that there is nothing in relevant law that creates a definition of “ultimately responsible” for an incident in the sense you suppose, and then prohibits the granting of a permit to an entity that falls within that definition.

If that is correct, then as you have been told several times there is reason to believe that BP were not entirely responsible at a practical level and it may be that BP are able to convince a regulator that they have remediated relevant systemic or operational faults.

I suspect also though that you aren’t looking for a GQ answer really but are looking to have a GD about appropriate punishment for BP and/or to pit BP regarding their actions.

I can’t start a Great Debate because I don’t understand the process by which BP is granted a fresh permit to drill in the Gulf.

I’d look like Don Quixote.

(: Getting back to your OP, and yes, it really can be a GQ, so I believe this is what you’re looking for:

The contract seems to have been part of a larger contract. The Department of Defense needs oil. No surprise, right? The DoD also serves as a major contract-giver, so there’s going to be some “corruption” in terms of who they want to deal with on certain things, sure. There is also Congressional oversight if Congress chooses to utilize it.

BP is only in a technical time-out.

The link I provided is a lefty site, but it pretty much answers your Q.

however, if someone wants to take this to GD, we can always factor in the price of Libya ! :eek:

It’s not like the idea hasn’t caught on.

BP is not in the clear…it’s just that the DoD relies on them. They supply 80 per cent of their fuel. In the larger scheme of things, this kind of makes sense. I can drive a hybrid across town, but a tanker and an F-16 can’t run on batteries.


I don’t know what you mean here.

I’m not sure I understand your point. Firstly, have BP been given a permit to start drilling again? I can’t see anything to say they have. Secondly, do you actually have any GQ evidence for your conspiracy theory that, if/when they are granted a permit, they will be granted it due to their contract to supply the DoD?

The military explanation at least makes sense. Under ordinary circumstances I think BP would at least have to wait until the courts make some decisions. But the military doesn’t always wait for that; or can’t.

My conspiracy theory? :confused: Do you know what a conspiracy theory is?


U.S. Must Act on Six Drilling Permits
Congress is Getting Cranky


unless you consider a number of organizations and blogs to be part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to incriminate the oil industry by whatever made-up means necessary…including cooperating with the DoD to keep the teeming millions ignorant :rolleyes:

…I rest my case. :slight_smile:

Like I said. BP is in a technical time-out.

nope. and they supply 80 per cent of DoD’s oil, according to several reports. even if the number is significantly less - say, 50 - that’s a lot. the DoD is a huge buyer of oil. it’s just a matter of fact that jets and boats take quite a bit of fuel to operate. :stuck_out_tongue:

It is very unlikely that the DoD contract has any bearing on a drilling permit. A well in the Gulf takes years to come on stream from the start of drilling. Drilling the well alone takes about a year. This gets you a hole in the ground that connects to the production layer. Then you need to move into place a production platform (which is a different entity to a drilling platform) and complete the well. Then connect it up to the pipeline system under the sea. Often wells may lie dormant after drilling for sometime before they are placed into production. A new well permit won’t result in oil reaching the shore for at least a couple of years, if not longer.

If the permits are for exploration drilling, the lag time is even longer. The drilled hole might never be used for production, and further wells will be drilled for that purpose. These wells will requite their own permits, and may be subject to negotiations for drilling licences for production.

I think the OP meant ‘contract’ instead of ‘permit’ the way you talk about it.

I think the DoD’s dependency on BP will have an effect.

Or it’s just the nature of things in general and BP will not be punished beyond monetary costs.

anyway, a link in the OP would’ve helped.

Seems unlikely, or the OP doesn’t understand how it works. There aren’t contracts for drilling individual wells. Companies negotiate for leases - which are contracts, that provide them with exploration or production rights to areas of the Gulf. The company works within the bounds of the lease to decide where to drill, and then applies for a permit to drill. This permit is meant to be a regulatory measure to control, amongst other things, the safety of the well. Issuing the permit includes signing off on a issues about the design of the well, and the appropriate licensing and further permitting of sub contractors and their equipment. The Deep Water Horizon was not US registered (Marshall Islands as it turns out) and thus all sorts of regulatory issues come into play in granting the permit. The permit is subject to ongoing checks and there are usually (and certainly were for Mancodo) variances to the original specification as the project progresses. A drilling permit is not a lot different to a building permit. Just a heck of a lot bigger. The contract the oil company has with the US government is about being allowed to exploit the lease, and covers such things as the taxes, fees and percentage cut.

There have been murmerings about prohibiting BP from acquiring new leases. That needs legislation.