Mailbag June 17, 2010

Mr. Schulze,

I read your article today in the MarEx Newsletter. The Economidies letter troubled me for its’ series of misleading representations. Your response put good thoughts into clear words, well organized. Well done sir.

Working in the industry (including offshore) I have deeply divided thoughts.

First, it is my experience that most maritime and drilling operators focus heavily and sincerely on personal, operational and environmental safety. But something did not work in this case and the full story is simply not out yet. The final fault tree analysis will be a great read …………

The drilling moratorium troubles me. I know and understand how much the economies of South Louisiana, East Texas, Southern MS & AL depend on offshore activity. I remember the 17% unemployment and stacked boats / equipment of 1986-1988 down there……

Yet the great environmental and financial damage being caused cannot be ignored. It is beyond comprehension of most persons – mainly because it takes a lot of oil to contaminate such a large area – and as surveyors we know that. The massive use of dispersants ….jeeez.

The number of legitimate claimants and potentially legitimate claimants is staggering – clearly beyond the experience of any industrial accident in US history. Once those claims are made and proven, those who predict the demise of BP may, in the end, be quite correct ……

Regardless, thank you for putting your viewpoint into clear words. It was important to see, read and think about. I hope others give it fair consideration.

Kind regards,
Dan Robsham
Marine Surveyor - Hull & Machinery
NAMS-CMS 109-847 / Chief Engineer STCW A-III/2

Dear Mr. Robsham,

Your additional comments reflect, in all probability, wide-spread concerns.

As I already stated, it is not in the oil drilling industry’s own interest to ignore operational or environmental issues. The GOM spill demonstrates very clearly that mistakes (if there were any) cost not only astronomical sums of money, but also lead to the loss of image and reputation that goes hand-in-hand. In fact, the slide of BP’s share price and the security downgrades are not only the result of the financial consequences of the liability that BP has assumed.

On any view, we are facing a disaster of gigantic proportions, and we are both very sensitive to any suggestion that this is a possible price that we must pay to avoid further job losses. Neither of us wants to return to the unemployment levels that you have mentioned, and if the American public as well as the current Administration can persuade the drilling operators and oil majors to invest more of their annual profits in equipment and drilling procedure research and development, this may already have a substantial impact on avoiding future spills.

It would be naïve to believe that we can achieve a situation that accidents will never happen again – all we can do is work towards the best level of safety that can be had. For my part, I do not believe that this is too much to ask for.

Best regards,

Jurgen W Schulze