As I see it, this blowout is something the drillers are aware of and should plan for...they say the failsafes were in place.
That'd be my story too !
From the excitable side of the news:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-pope ... 58473.html
Early investigations have revealed that BP did not bother to install -- and that U.S. regulations do not require -- a backup device to provide another layer of protection in case the "fail-safe" shutoff valve failed (which is exactly what happened). Brazil requires such a device, and oil companies like Shell install it routinely even in the U.S. BP didn't because, at $500,000, it was "too expensive."
Kennedy said that their team discovered last night that the BP well not only didn’t have the acoustical, emergency valve that could have shut it off, but was also lacking a deep-hole valve that would have also been able to stop the leaking of 5,000 barrels a day into the Gulf of Mexico.
The acoustical valve allows operators to remotely shut off the flow of oil from the well. Senator Bill Nelson told locals at press conference in Pensacola on Friday, April 30 that he was calling for a U.S. Senate probe to find out why regulations were relaxed to allow BP to not install the acoustical valve. ...............................................................
When asked why BP wouldn’t install a deep-hole valve, Papantonio says, “Because the deep-hole valve when deployed could cause BP to lose the well site and redrill. They were cutting cost to save money.”
Wall Street Journal has a calmer article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 36798.html
Sounds like there may have been only one shutoff valve and it didn't work.
What wasn't installed is a separate and independent remotely activated valve that's set off by a sonic signal not a hard-wired switch..
I don't know anything about those acoustic activated valves for oil wells so can't comment on their merits.
I do know that a "dead man switch" might not activate its intended device when an explosion rips away its panel and the two wires to the switch become shorted together as they are physically crushed by twisted metal. i've seen that...
In my industry the "defense in depth" concept was inviolate, always have at least three barriers and redundant means of activation...with no single physical point of failure.
This will likely turn out another of those hard lessons that results in more stringent codes for design and operation.
It's the price of progress. I still like my hot water and mechanized civilization.
And i admire the oil industry for how tenaciously they extract oil from impossible places and quietly meet our need for it.
Sure I can't interest you in a Dr No style conspiracy story instead?