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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603583169
Year Added to Catalog: 2010
Book Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 5 3/8 x 8 3/8
Number of Pages: 248
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green
Release Date: October 31, 2010
Web Product ID: 806

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Disaster on the Horizon

High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout

by Bob Cavnar

Related Articles


Did We Learn Anything From the BP Oil Spill?

The National Oil Spill Commission has given marching orders on how to prevent another disaster. But will Congress listen?

Mother Jones - Wed Jan. 12, 2011

The National Oil Spill Commission on Tuesday released a voluminous report on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its implications for the future of offshore drilling in the United States. The report, a doorstop of more than 300 pages, contains a long list of advice for the oil industry and federal regulators about how to avert a future catastrophe. But many of the commission's recommendations require action from Congress—and given the current political climate, those changes might be hard to make for at least the next two years.

The defensive stance from oil interests, says oil industry veteran Bob Cavnar, can be blamed at least in part on the fact that the commission itself lacked anyone from the industry; instead it is made up largely of academics and environmentalists. "The major changes to offshore drilling require congressional action," said Cavnar, whose book Disaster on the Horizon assessed the causes of the blowout on the rig. "With a Republican Congress, the chances of those changes being made are zero unless the industry pushes it, and because the industry rejects the report, that's not going to happen."

Read the entire article.

Bob Cavnar At Woodstock History Center

By Gwen Stanley

Vermont Standard - December 23, 2010

Author and former oilman Bob Cavnar spoke to a crowd of about thirty at the Woodstock History Center Sunday afternoon. Cavnar, author of the book “Disaster on the Horizon,” spoke about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the fire and subsequent sinking of the floating drilling platform the “Deepwater Horizon” in both technical and emotional terms.

Speaking in front of projected photos from the Coast Guard of wreckage from the spill showing a wall of flames 75 feet high, Cavnar detailed the specific theories on what caused the disaster.
“BP’s report named eight separate causes, but only took responsibility for two of those,” said Cavnar, who lives in Woodstock part-time.

Cavnar noted that the full impact of the spill simply won’t be fully known for many years.

Cavnar, who now runs a natural gas production company, became emotional as he read a list of the 11 people killed the night of the catastrophe and the families they left behind, and he could not finish the list. “I’m sorry, this is just too much – I can never make it through the list,” he said.

Cavnar’s book, which goes into detail about what may have caused the spill, industry policies and where we might go from here, is available from local publisher Chelsea Green.

Read the original article at the Vermont Standard.

Halliburton Worker on Smoke Break Missed BP Well Data

Bloomberg - December 07, 2010, 4:10 PM EST

By Joe Carroll

(Updates with author’s comment in fifth, 10th paragraphs.)

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A Halliburton Co. technician missed key signals that BP Plc’s doomed Macondo well was on the verge of blowing out because he was taking a smoking break, a federal investigative panel heard.

Joseph E. Keith, a senior unit manager for Halliburton’s Sperry subsidiary, told the U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department panel in Houston today that he left his post aboard the Deepwater Horizon for about 10 minutes on the night of the April disaster to drink coffee and smoke half a cigarette.

While he was away from his monitors, pressure data indicated the well was filling up with explosive natural gas and crude, according to charts entered into evidence today by the panel in Houston. Keith said that had he seen the pressure data, he would have “called the rig floor” to warn fellow workers they were in danger.

The April 20 catastrophe killed 11 employees, injured 17, sank the $365 million Transocean Ltd. vessel and triggered the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Millions of barrels of crude gushed into the ocean for almost three months, fouling beaches, fishing grounds and marshes, and bringing deep-water oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico to a halt.

“Without someone watching those crucial data points, the people working on the rig had no way of knowing something was awry,” Robert L. Cavnar, former chief financial officer for El Paso Corp.’s oil-drilling business and author of “Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout.”

Halliburton fell 44 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $40.38 at 4:05 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Read the entire article over at Business Week.




BP spill exposed looming US energy crisis - 16 November, 2010

The infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was no accident, because the industry had operated unregulated for years, argues Bob Canvar, CEO of Luca Technologies and author of Disaster on the Horizon.

Six months after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unleashed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, BP is selling its assets to cover the cost of the disaster.

Meanwhile, the US reports that its federal waters are once again open for fishing, in what America claims to be one of the most promising signs of environmental recovery. The story has somehow fallen from the front pages.

Up to this day BP has not disclosed the real amount of oil that escaped into the water.

“The deregulation of our industry in federal waters over the last ten years, the problems that we have are getting worse and worse, and there is no force to correct them,” Canvar said.

He believes the real scale of the America’s worst ecological disaster is as yet unknown, because vast majority of oil never reached the surface and, despite the processes of biodegradation, “we do not know how long it takes.”

“In cold waters 3,000-4,000 feet deep, there could be vast plumes of oil we cannot see that [are] destroying the food chain,” he said. “And the oil gets into the food chain and could cause damage all the way up, including to humans eating the seafood coming from the Gulf.”

Half a year has passed, but the American Congress has not acted to change legislation and the story itself has completely fallen off the radar of all major TV channels and newspapers.

The sharp rhetoric in the American mass media that was escalating against the British oil company abruptly came to nought once BP agreed to cover all the expenses and pay off the damages – something in the order of US$20 billion.

“All of a sudden the decision-making all merged,” recalls Canvar. “From there on, their [American government and BP] interests were allied.”

In order to keep BP afloat so that it could pay that $20 billion, the story, “was taken off the TV as fast as possible so BP could recover.”

Today, after the economic crisis that hit in 2008, Bob Canvar sees much in common between the unregulated oil industry and Wall Street, which continues to play by its own rules.

“If you look at the new drilling rules that have been proposed by the Department of Interior, nothing has really changed. And the changes that have happened are all basically put on another set of rules that are self-certified,” he underlined.

The American administration more than once promised to move the country away from fossil fuels, but has not fulfilled that promise.

“Today America is importing 75 per cent of the oil it needs from other countries, about half of it from countries that just hate us,” Bob Canvar asserted. So the US is giving money to the countries that are either sponsoring terrorism or allow terrorists to reside there.

“We have lost control of our own destiny. France does 80 per cent of its electricity with nuclear [power stations], we do something like less than 20 per cent and we have not built a nuclear reactor in the US for over 20 years,” he revealed. Neither does America provide any long-term investment support to renewables like wind or solar.

“The people in Congress are focused on one thing – getting re-elected. And as long as it is not right in their face, they will continue to look the other way,” he concluded.

Read the original article on


Digital Journal


October 2010

Opinion: New book confirms greed, power and cover-up are BP trademarks

By Lynn Herrmann.

The Deepwater Horizon debacle of 2010 will no doubt lead to a plethora of books being published, each hoping to captivate readers. One of the first on the scene has set a high bar, a hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look written by an industry insider.

Disaster on the Horizon, by Bob Cavnar, shows no partial treatments to either the industry he loves and works in nor to an American political system overflowing with oil industry lobbyists, campaign contributions and the ever-present failed leadership. While it may be difficult for some on the extreme left to believe anything an oil person writes or says, Cavnar does an excellent job at taking the oil industry to task, taking aim at both sides of America’s corrupt government policy, and sending the country an alarming wake-up call (just in case BP’s Macondo well did not).

In the book, Cavnar repeatedly refers to failed leadership as a major component to where America currently stands in regards to its need for more oil. As a result, greed and profit have become the norm. Safety, health and the environment aren’t even on the radar screen. Lost in the circus of ineptitude following the disaster is the fact that 11 workers died in the explosion, ultimately leaving behind families that include wives, a fiancée, and just as sadly, 21 children now without fathers. Being the survivor of a gas well explosion in 1981, Cavnar hits hard at an industry intent on forsaking safety in the workplace for ever-expanding profits. Disaster on the Horizon offers some surprises, even for those who have followed the disaster closely. For example, many have asked why a Norwegian firm, Det Norske Varitas, was chosen to lead the investigation into the failed blowout preventer. Cavnar fills us in:

In 2009, a risk management organization, Det Norske Varitas (DNV) was commissioned to do a confidential study for Transocean on subsea BOP reliability, using a database of 15,000 wells drilled in North American waters and in the North Sea from 1980 to 2006.

Did someone mention conflict of interest? As the book repeatedly shows, the corrupt oil and gas industry has a stranglehold on the even more corrupt American political system.

Read more:




October 2010

Spills and Bills
The well is plugged, but the disaster in the Gulf is still seeping through the energy capital of the world, and the question on everyone’s mind is, Who’s up and who’s down?
by Mimi Swartz

"...the disaster birthed a new media star: silver-haired Robert L. Cavnar, the rare oilman who also happens to be a Democrat who also happens to support the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling. MSNBC, for one, couldn’t get enough. “Nobody wants to be seen publicly going against the industry,” Cavnar said about energy executives who privately support his view. “I’m more worried about more guys getting killed.” Cavnar has been in the energy business for more than thirty years—as CEO of a Houston oil company and as an executive at El Paso Corporation—and was himself injured in an East Texas gas well pit fire decades back. But since most of his experience is on land, his commentary elicited some sniping in the offshore world, which probably makes things dicey at the society galas where he and his wife, Gracie, are regulars. No matter. Lately he hasn’t had much time for such things, as he has been racing to be first out of the gate with a book on the spill. Disaster on the Horizon, one of six now in the works, is due in bookstores on October 22. Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren Steffy is also writing a book about BP, which would normally give much of Houston’s corporate community chest pains, except that at this point they might hate BP more than they hate Steffy."

Read the full article here.


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