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Before the massive oil drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, experts and politicians confidently said that it couldn’t happen. Or, if something did go wrong, the impacts would be swiftly contained with minimal leaking. Now that those assurances have been proven wrong, they claim that it was an accident that couldn’t have been predicted, and meanwhile avoid the elephant in the room – how and why.
It will be some time before we get an official explanation. In the meantime, however, there is plenty of information – and more than one possible explanation – to consider. It could have been a technical failure, for example, or the result of human error. But labeling it an “accident,” as news outlets do every day, is at the very least premature, especially since one possibility not being examined is a premeditated attack.
It’s natural to assume that is impossible, just some far-fetched conspiracy theory, and much easier to believe that another corporation has acted irresponsibly. Perhaps it did. But also consider this: Last August Foreign Policy posted an article citing credible research and directly warning oil companies worldwide that their offshore oil rigs are highly vulnerable to hacking. As Richard Clarke explains in his new book Cyber War, “Computer commands can derail a train or cause a gas pipeline to burst.”
In early 2009, a 28-year-old contractor in California was charged in federal court with almost disabling an offshore rig. Prosecutors say the contractor, who was allegedly angry about not being hired full time, hacked into the computerized network of an oil-rig off the coast, specifically the controls that detect leaks. He caused some damage, but fortunately not a leak.
This January, the Christian Science Monitor reported that at least three US oil companies have been the target of a series of cyber attacks. In these cases, the culprit is most likely someone or some group in China. The incidents, kept secret since 2008, involved Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips. The companies didn’t realize how serious their problem was until the FBI alerted them. Federal officials said that proprietary information – email passwords, messages, and information linked to executives – had been flowing out to computers overseas.
Chinese government involvement hasn’t been confirmed, but some data did end up on a computer in China and one oil company security staffer privately called the breaches the “China virus.”
The companies wouldn’t comment, or even admit that the attacks happened. But the Monitor persisted, interviewing insiders, officials and cyber attack experts, and ultimately confirmed the story. Their overall conclusion was that cyber-burglars, using new spyware that is almost undetectable, pose a serious and potentially dangerous threat to private industry.
Of these, the company most directly implicated is Cameron, a Fortune 500 company formerly known as Cooper Cameron and a worldwide leader in providing BOPs to offshore rigs. In early May, Cameron said that AIG has insured the company for $500 million against legal claims in the event of a problem. Based in Houston, this maker of fail-safe devices created the first blowout preventer of its kind in 1922. A BOP is a large valve that is supposed to seal off a wellhead if something goes wrong – for example, if pressure from an underground formation causes oil to threaten the rig. The valve is usually closed remotely.
According to BP, when workers attempted to activate the BOP from the top of the Deepwater Horizon rig before they were evacuated, nothing happened. The website ScienceInsider says that the shut off should have been automatic. Even after the rig sank, when BP and the Coast Guard tried to use robot submarines to trigger the BOP, it didn’t work.
There were multiple “Panic Buttons” to hit, even a so-called “Deadman” fail-safe that should have been engaged automatically. None of these security procedures worked. According to BP’s Hayward, “It is the ultimate safety system on any rig and there is no precedent for them failing.” In fact, Minerals Management Service records show that this BOP passed a test on April 10, less than two weeks before it failed. Thus far, no one has been able to explain it and Cameron has been conspicuously silent.
“We are all very curious,” said an insider who works for one of BP’s competitors. “What happened to all that equipment, all the computer power, all the automated systems and manpower in place, could not be invoked to stop this?”
Originally posted by manta78
reply to post by Cyb3rian
How about Iran?
I asked that question in the following ATS thread here:
B P and the Iran Connection - Was It Sabotage?