Horton Hears a Who

“We care about the small people”

–BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, (who appeared to be of normal size.)

What a genius….  Stuff like that always goes over big with the 90% of Americans who happen to be Lilliputians, not unlike that time when Leona Helmsley declared that she, too, was too darned gigantic to even pay taxes; I’m told that the evidently size-challenged jury just loved to hear that.  While it is obviously true, you ought to be smart enough not to come out and, well, say it; wouldn’t be prudent, and all.  People who are walking, and worse, talking, pie charts for our current maldistribution of wealth actually think they deserve their 9/10th of “their” pie, and since the rest of us are so, well, petite, we can certainly get by dividing up the sliver they grudgingly left, and be grateful for it.  As with the unfortunate lightning incident that incinerated the 60-foot flammable monstrosity, “Touchdown Jesus,” though, we continue to discover that bigger isn’t necessarily better, and in fact the two are, almost always, inversely proportional.  Only the tawdry and ridiculous lifestyles to which are superrich have grown accustomed could have blinded them to the fact that they are nothing more than the man behind the curtain, clumsily operating the Free Market Wizard, and fooling no one but themselves except, conveniently enough, the media.  The only difference today is the scale: back in the innocent 80′s, Leona just had the Plaza to ruin; now, BP has the whole planet; they both succeeded, as it were.  Too bad so many more qualified people had the bad luck to be born small.

From Bloomberg News:

BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

It took 10 days to plug the first cracks, according to reports BP filed with the Minerals Management Service that were later delivered to congressional investigators. Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.

“Once they realized they had oil down there, all the decisions they made were designed to get that oil at the lowest cost,” said Peter Galvin of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working with congressional investigators probing the disaster. “It’s been a doomed voyage from the beginning.”

Smaller people could be forgiven for thinking that such spectacular and dangerous blunders might cost them their jobs, and possibly their lives, and thus embark on a needed course correction.  Not so the big, as we see:

BP didn’t respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment. The company’s shares rose 22 pence to 359 pence today in London after the company struck a deal with the Obama administration yesterday to establish a $20 billion fund to pay cleanup costs and compensation. BP has lost 45 percent of its market value since the catastrophe.

On Feb. 13, BP told the minerals service it was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, drilling documents obtained by Bloomberg show. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the fissures played a role in the disaster.

Nothing to see here… You see, we’re big.

‘Cement Squeeze’

The company attempted a “cement squeeze,” which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as “mud,” into the surrounding rocks.

BP used three different substances to plug the holes before succeeding, the documents show.

“Most of the time you do a squeeze and then let it dry and you’re done,” said John Wang, an assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania. “It dries within a few hours.”

Repeated squeeze attempts are unusual and may indicate rig workers are using the wrong kind of cement, Wang said.

When you’re big, effectiveness is immaterial; the only thing is to not waste too much money doing the wrong thing.

Grappling Engineers

BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward and other top executives were ignorant of the difficulties the company’s engineers were grappling with in the well before the explosion, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said today during a hearing in Washington.

“We could find no evidence that you paid any attention to the tremendous risk BP was taking,” Waxman said as Hayward waited to testify. “There is not a single e-mail or document that you paid the slightest attention to the dangers at this well.”

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles and exploration chief Andy Inglis “were apparently oblivious to what was happening,” said Waxman, a California Democrat. “BP’s corporate complacency is astonishing.”

Waxman is even smaller than average, so you can understand his confusion.

In early March, BP told the minerals agency the company was having trouble maintaining control of surging natural gas, according to e-mails released May 30 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill.

Gas Surges

While gas surges are common in oil drilling, companies have abandoned wells if they determine the risk is too high. When a Gulf well known as Blackbeard threatened to blow out in 2006,Exxon Mobil Corp. shut the project down.

“We don’t proceed if we cannot do so safely,” Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told a House Energy and Commerce committee panel on June 15.

How refreshing.  They’re big over at ExxonMobil, but not that big.  Maybe they should go to KFC for a Double Down to work on that.

On March 10, BP executive Scherie Douglas e-mailed Frank Patton, the mineral service’s drilling engineer for the New Orleans district, telling him: “We’re in the midst of a well control situation.”

The incident was a “showstopper,” said Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has consulted with the Interior Department on offshore drilling safety. “They damn near blew up the rig.”

And why not?  When you’re that gloriously huge, 5000 feet of water only barely comes up to your ankles, and an army of small pedicurists can take care of any oily residue, come to that.

The sweet but woefully outdated message of Dr. Suess’s “Horton Hears a Who” is that “a person is a person, no matter how small”….  The message of BP and its few remaining cheerleaders today is rather the opposite; you have to be a certain size to not end up boiled in Beezlenut Oil.  As Republican Rep. Joe Barton found out today, after he, using his moment in the limelight to somewhat errantly apologize (!) to BP for the recent unpleasantness, even Republicans suddenly remembered Horton Hears a Who, with all of predictable and laughably insincere  cockroach-scurrying.  Who are they going to apologize to next?  The Grinch?  Frank Luntz is going to have his hands full at this rate.


  1. nailheadtom says:

    If I ever need somebody to drill an oil well, Henry Waxman is the guy I’m going to get.

    • cocktailhag says:

      And since you evidently aren’t qualified to do anything but pump gas for a living, that might even happen. Lord, Tom, you are a dumb one.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Wow. You read some dumb, and rather offensive and pointless, shit. I’d love to help you find a hobby. You like gardening?

    • michlib says:

      Way to stay on point and classy. The time honored neo-con reply – when you can’t argue the facts launch ad hominem attacks or seek to divert focus elsewhere. Must be tough hearing nothing but dogwhistles.