On the Sep 1 2011, Halliburton filed a claim against BP for "for negligent misrepresentation, business disparagement and defamation" according to this press release on Halliburton's website.
The remarkably short release goes on to say that
"Halliburton has learned that BP provided Halliburton inaccurate information about the actual location of hydrocarbon zones in the Macondo well. The actual location of the hydrocarbon zones is critical information required prior to performing cementing services and is necessary to achieve desired cement placement."
Halliburton remains confident that all the work it performed with respect to the Macondo well was completed in accordance with BP’s specifications for its well construction plan and instructions, and that Halliburton is fully indemnified under the contract.
What is Halliburton's case?
To me, Halliburton's case seems to be:
- BP knew where the hydrocarbon zones were
- They didn't tell us
- We went ahead and cemented based only on what BP told us
- Because we did exactly what we were told (and asked no questions) we're in the clear
- We're really miffed they told everyone we might have screwed up - and that's defamation in our book.
Who knew where the hydrocarbon zones were?
Which all seems a bit odd. Because by the time the cementing job came around, I'd imagine that the actual location of hydrocarbon zones in the Macondo well would have been known (to within a metre or so) by:
- the BP Petroleum Engineer
- the Well Engineer
- the Company Man;
- the Offshore Installation Manager;
- the mudlogging crew;
- the wireline crew;
- the Logging-Whilst-Drilling crew;
- the casing crew;
- the driller (and one or two vaguely-interested roughnecks);
- Anyone given a three-minute squint at any form of electric log; and
well, I'm tempted to add cementing crew to my list, but Halliburton's lawsuit makes it clear that wasn't the case.
So, how come Halliburton didn't know?
Based on Halliburton's claim; the first possibility is that they went ahead and designed and ran a cement job without any information about the actual location of hydrocarbon zones at all. In other words, they simply followed a BP-designed programme, no questions asked. But that possibility is just so outlandishly mad and unlikely that I'll dismiss it straight away - companies like Halliburton are paid for their expertise, not simply for machine-hours and slurry.
So the second possibility is that BP provided the wrong depths. Well, OK, if they were scribbled on a Post-It note then perhaps someone transcribed a number wrongly - or maybe they use a 7 which looks a lot like a 1 (top tip: however you write your 1s, always use the continental-style 7, friends). But I can't for a single second believe that in this day-and-age Halliburton would have received the depths in anything other than a digital format.
Not only that, I'd be prepared to bet quite a lot of money that the Halliburton engineer did see the electric logs. Why? Because they include the one measure that cementers love: the caliper. The caliper curve is an easy-to-decipher electric log which shows a two-dimensional profile of the borehole, enabling the cementer to see where any washouts or 'caves' may be - and even giving a wet-finger estimate of borehole volume, which comes in handy if you're the person charged with calculating how much gunge to pump downhole.
The presidential commission blamed faulty cement
Remember that the presidential commission concluded that a faulty cement mix contributed to the disaster. Halliburton don't seem to be contesting that point. What they do seem to be saying is that they were simply following orders. Which throws into doubt many of the competences they pride - and sell themselves on.
What is Halliburton's business?
Halliburton's tagline is "Solving Challenges." The marketing material for their cementing boasts
the industry's most robust engineering design tool for assessing and monitoring specific well variables before, during, and after a cement job.
That didn't happen here. What are Halliburton doing? Remodelling their cementing division along the lines of a machine-rental business, perhaps?
Filed Under: Energy,