BP execs must be imprisoned

Super story last night on 60 Minutes, centered around a gripping interview of Mike Williams, Deepwater Horizon’s chief electronics technician, who ran its computers and electrical systems.

The story provided a harrowing first-hand account of a brave, smart man’s escape from the clutches of death and his even more harrowing account of a series of accidents in the weeks preceding the disaster.

If Mike Williams is to be believed — and I see him as extremely credible — BP’s greed and recklessness exceeded even my wildest imagination. BP seemingly cared only about shaving every extra million dollars in cost, completely sacrificing safety while drilling its world-record-deep oil and gas well. BP took shortcuts that even an drilling ignoramus like me would never have taken, like drilling too fast, continuing work after the most critical safety device broke in multiple ways, and refusing to maintain downward pressure on the well just to save a little time. Even leaving aside safety, BP’s recklessness was economically stupid. By drilling too fast, they broke their first well and had to start over with a second well, wasting $25 million. And, of course, by continuing work after multiple failures in its primary safety device, BP destroyed an oil rig worth roughly half a billion dollars and caused incalculable damage to the Gulf of Mexico.

Even if you ignore the loss of human lives and the likely death of most/all sea life in the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s recklessness was still economically insane (penny wise, pound foolish). I said it before and I repeat myself now: BP managers and executives who pushed this project with utter disregard for safety must be locked up in prison!

Posted by James on Monday, May 17, 2010