Monday, May 31, 2010


This Gulf Oil spill is really making me upset on several fronts. First the technical aspects are criminal. A company decides to drill for oil in 5,000 feet of ocean. On land, the question asked is what is done to contain spills or blow outs, fires, etc. At sea, what were the potential problems? As an engineer, I know that submarines do not go below 2,000 feet or if they do not much more, definitely not 5,000 feet. There are small submersibles that go that deep.

Question one is how do they put equipment on the sea floor? Do they weld under water? Do they use fasteners under water? Do they just use mechanical fit ups to make seals? How on earth do they lay miles of pipe down 5,000 feet?

Looking at the blowout preventer and the associated pipe, it seems to be on top of the sea bed. Clearly they did not lower this as a single unit.

Three companies are involved BP, Transocean and Halliburton. Deepwater Horizon is a floating drilling platform owned by Transocean. Halliburton was the brains behind the drilling and provided the necessary expertise. British Petroleum leased a floating oil rig. BP hired Halliburton to drill the well. BP held the lease for the section of ocean floor.

One employee alleges that rubber was found in core samples after a test of the emergency blowout preventer. During the test an operator error caused a section of pipe to be extracted through the rubber sealed blowout preventer. The rubber found in the core sample was disregarded by others.

Not knowing much about drilling, but have experience with pumps, I wonder why we have such a problem.

Broken 21 inch diameter pipe located 5,000 feet below the ocean surface on the sea floor. It appears to be jagged and not vertical. The oil seems to be exiting the pipe and makes a directional change upwards. The oil is under pressure which causes the oil to seek an outlet (broken pipe).

BP has tried pumping mud into the blow out preventer. From all the diagrams I have seen, the inside piping is smooth and straight. I find that pumping mud into this unit with an unblocked exit un promising at best. The mud may prevent the oil from escaping, but as soon as the mud is consumed, the oil will no longer be blocked by the mud.

BP then tried a junk shot with the intention of blocking, stopping up the exit. Again they used gulf balls and other objects. What I find interesting is all the objects seemed to be round which means they would not tend to lodge against each other and form a mechanical blockage. Furthermore, since the outlet is open and the oil has created a good lubricant on the inside of the pipe walls, I would think the chances of a frictional interference slim.

My first thought was to lower 5,000 feet of large diameter culvert down over the exit. It would be difficult to pump oil up a hose, pipe or tube and keep it located close to the exiting oil let alone collecting the majority of the oil. The concept was to contain the oil and channel it under low pressure in respects to the sea water pressure up to the surface where it could be pumped into ships. Clearly the oil is leaking. Clearly the oil is rising. Clearly the oil goes with the current. Therefore, why fight the buoyancy aspect of the oil? Clearly the methane in the oil when it contacts sea water is causing a chemical reaction and freezes creating ice. How much ice? How large a chunks are we talking about? A diameter large enough could channel the oil to the surface, at least containing it to a smaller area.

My second thought was try and plug the outlet. The pipe is open and oil is gushing out. The diameter is 21 inches or 346 sq inches. If you were to attempt to block the exit, how close could you get to the outlet before the pressure would keep you from getting any closer? Maybe you could get within six inches of the outlet with a flat plate? This would not stop the flow, but it may allow the junk shot to work by creating a choke point of six inches not the 21 inch diameter outlet. A better idea would be to not block the outlet with a solid, but to put a titanium net, mesh, screen, lattice work or, grate at the outlet and then use the junk shot. The junk shot would have to be pieces larger than the mesh, grate or what ever at the outlet in order to capture/trap it. This would then begin to block the outlet. Clearly as the oil is blocked the pressure inside the pipe would rise. Design parameters of the pipe would have used total blockage using the blowout preventer and there should be no risk of a pipe rupture.

My third thought was to use under water robotics to saw a clean edge on the outlet of the pipe. Clamp/weld/bolt a coupling to the outside of the pipe with a new blow out preventer open. This would be needed so that the oil would not dislodge the blow out preventer from being secured to the broken pipe. Once secured, close the new blow out preventer.

If no one who is in the business of drilling for oil 5,000 feet down has thought about these and come up with reasons why these would not work, then these people need to find a new line of work. I am not an expert in oil drilling, but I have a lot of experience in fluid flow. I know how hard it is to block a raging torrent of water. The only way I found to control this type of situation was to build two bastions on either side and lower a gate between them. You can build the supports outside the confines of the flow and once secured, can lower the gate. To me the oil spew is a similar problem.

Who is at fault in my opinion is all three. I think all three companies will cease to exist. This oil spill will cost the sum total of BP’s assets. BP is larger than Transocean and Halliburton combined. If you wanted to make money, selling these companies short might make you very wealthy.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

House Candidate Phil Troyer

Candidate Phil Troyer for Congress is a conservative who explicitly identifies his beliefs and values. He supports term limits for congress. This clearly would provide the mechanism for new ideas, to limit the power of seniority of any one representative and let’s face it, if a problem has not been solved within 12 years, we need new representation.

Troyer supports limiting a bill’s length to 200 pages and requiring it be made public five days prior to any vote holds our representative accountable for any vote they make on our behalf.

Troyer has indeed provided true leadership in supporting that all proposed legislation actually cite the Constitutional authority empowering Congress to enact any legislation. The power of Congress is limited by Sections 8 and 9 of the Constitution. Too many representatives have forgotten this.

Congress passes legislation and the president makes this law by signing it. Government agencies then write Federal Regulations interpreting this legislation and in many cases, these Federal Regulations misinterpret or totally disregard the Federal Statutes as written and passed by congress. Troyer supports legislation that prohibits regulations from taking effect until they are reviewed by Congress. We need to eliminate the “Vote and Forget” mechanism.

The Federal Government continues to take rights (OUR RIGHTS) away from the states. They take our taxes and then write laws on how the states can get a portion of OUR taxes back. Troyer supports legislation to ensure our states rights are protected. This will keep government local.

Troyer does not support Earmarks and proposes to prohibit any entity that receives $1 million or more in federal funds from contributing to any campaign for a period of (2) years before or following the receipt of federal funds. Legislation should be based upon our national interests and not upon the parochial interests of individual Members of Congress.

Troyer supports a prohibition of the Federal Government in owning Stock in private companies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Banks and Automakers. Troyer supports Free Enterprise, not socialism.

Troyer pledges to vote against any bill that does not reduce spending by at least 5%. The last general budget surplus was in 1958. Congress continues to spend ever more; creating ever larger deficits; the national debt will grow past $14 Trillion this year. It is time to think of our children instead of ourselves.
Troyer promises to co-sponsor legislation to eliminate the Departments of Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development.

Troyer supports tax reform. Our federal tax laws have become far too complicated and now require even many middle-class taxpayers purchase professional assistance to prepare their returns.

Troyer promises to oppose any federal funding of abortions, either in this country or through funds provided to foreign countries or international agencies.

In this day and age of technology, our vote should not be based on which candidate bashes the other more or who has raised or spent the most money, but on ISSUES alone. Based on Troyer’s written and oral presentation of the issues, I support Troyer for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

Phil Troyer gets my vote.

Senate Candidate Bates

I have a couple of problems with Senate Candidate Bates.

  • The combined state and federal corporate tax rate is 39.9% - the second highest such tax rate in the world. I propose that we slash the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 24%, and then down to 20% as soon as possible after that. That would be an immediate tax cut of 31% for all employers in America. Additionally, this tax rate would be a flat tax that would reduce the tax compliance burden of companies, thereby freeing up more resources for job creation.
  • The bailouts must stop; the government takeovers must end. The federal government needs to shed the ownership and creditor positions that it has with many large companies. Tax cuts and the elimination of unnecessary regulations will help individuals, families, and businesses recover from the economic downturn. I will work to eliminate the death tax, reduce the capital gains tax, cut the recently raised payroll tax, make the 2003 income tax cuts permanent, and permanently index the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation. Lower taxes give you more control over your future, and that, in turn, makes our economy stronger.
  • Federal spending is out of control. Our deficit for FY2009 was $1.4 trillion, and our national debt currently stands at $12.6 trillion and is growing every day.
This would be nice, but with trillion dollar deficits, does he actually believe we can grow our way out of it? The Deficit for 2009 was over $1.9 Trillion. Bates being a financial adviser uses the government published value instead of the US Treasury published values. Missing a half trillion in one year is a pretty large financial error. What I want is a representative that will tell expose and tell the truth. This is not a very good start.
  • I also support the development of nuclear power plants and coal-to-liquid fuels, the expansion of our nation’s oil refining capacity, and the pursuit of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and ethanol, free of government subsidies.
What we have is a non technical person speaking about a subject he has no concept of. Nuclear power created highly radioactive waste. What does he plan to do with it? Before some one states he supports nuclear power, they better have an idea of the cost. Nuclear power will cost 14 cents a Kw-hour. You could build four windmills for this cost and have them run 25% of the time and still produce more energy, cleaner and no waste. I agree with is position that all energy development must be free of government subsidies. May the best energy source win.

  • Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all on an unsustainable path that will wreck our economy if nothing is done to address them. Reforming these programs, particularly Social Security, starts with protecting current beneficiaries benefits. After insuring that current benefits will not be reduced, we must move these programs towards a more personal, individual-focused system.
Wow, this is a mouth full. After insuring that current benefits will not be reduced. How does he plan to do this? He is a financial planner. Maybe the numbers are just too large for him to comprehend. To pay just those who are age 65 and over, would require a down payment deposit into Social Security of over $8 Trillion!! That means no one under age 65 gets a dime. Now if you want to pay those over 50 their promised benefits, you still must maintain a SS-OASI tax of over 8% This means there is only 2.6% for individual accounts. Yet I hear that current benefits would include those over age 40. Sorry Bates, but this is automatic out.

Senate Candidate Hotstettler

Hotstettler issues:

  • John has voted to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which authorized the income tax. As a senator, John would vote for repeal again in order to move the country to a national retail sales tax similar to the type used in Indiana to fund state government.
A national sales tax would be extremely costly. The general budget is roughly $2 trillion. National income is around $7 trillion. Assuming a 3% savings rate, we spend roughly $6.79 trillion which would require a sales tax of over 29%. This would not cover Social Security or Medicare. However, it would eliminate; tax credits of college and children; dependency exemptions; over age 65 exemptions and more. The problem is many families would simply be unable to pay a 29% sales tax. If you exempt food (6% of our economy) and Healthcare (17% of our economy) the sale tax rate rises to over 38% and this does not include Social Security and Medicare. I am not sure he has thought this through. Though I strongly believe this would provide a very strong rally by the people to cut spending.
  • Building on the success of Health Savings Accounts by making 100% of health insurance premiums either deductible or a tax credit
Providing health savings accounts deductible or a tax credit would have no affect with a national sales tax. These types of credits reduce general revenues and drive up deficits. Tax credits are nothing more than another form of bailout or preferential treatment (earmark).
  • Creating Association Health Plans which allow individuals and families to negotiate, collectively, for health care services based on an association defined by profession, religion, membership in an organization, etc.
Allowing different entities the ability to negotiate a price with a healthcare provider does little to reduce cost. What it does is produce different price structures within the same provider for the same service. When a person goes to a store to buy something, the store does not charge different prices to each customer. The same should be for healthcare. Our healthcare problem was created by cost shifting that was the result of government dictated payments to providers. It was later excererbated by individual health plans negotiating for lower rates due to cost shifting. This left the small and individual picking up the tab.

Candidate Hostettler appears to be conservative but blurs the line between bailouts, subsidies, tax reform and spending cuts. In my oppinion he does not have a clear distinction of how he would vote for legislation.

Senate Candidate Behney

I went to Behney's webiste and saw a list of issues, but none of it is written down. He does have short video clips. This may be nice to those who have high speed internet or while at the library have head phones, but to me at home, I have no idea what his main issues are.

I did record the channel 15 interview with the candidates and found him to be appealing. However, with only addressing two issues (limited by channel 15) I can not comment on what he truly believes. The written word may have swayed me. Too bad.

Senate Candidate Stutzman

I have some major issues with Senate Candidate Stutzman. He writes "I would never support a federal bailout of private business" but is he really?

  • I support expanding free market solutions such as Health Savings Accounts to include all citizens, increasing tax credits for businesses that provide healthcare, and comprehensive tort reform that will lead to increased access to health care and a decrease in premiums and overall cost.
  • I support expanding free market solutions such as Health Savings Accounts to include all citizens, increasing tax credits for businesses that provide healthcare, and comprehensive tort reform that will lead to increased access to health care and a decrease in premiums and overall cost.
I am all for cutting spending and bailouts, but providing a tax credit for a particular entity is a bailout. It is bailing out a company or simply subsidizing a companies costs. Ethanol is not economically viable and artificially prices energy far cheaper than reality. Providing tax credits for Health Savings Accounts will decrease federal tax revenues, adding to deficits and the national debt. We as Americans all face Healthcare costs. We all need to take care of our own healthcare costs. Providing tax credits is not the way to do it. So my question to Marlin is; "are you truly against bailouts?"

If you are truly free enterprise, you simply let the market price energy, healthcare and governments only role should be to keep it fair. In the case of Medicare and Medicaid, why should they be allowed to pay pennies on the dollar for services that everyone else pays full price for? This is like China dumping products in the US below cost. The only problem with this is the rest of us pay through cost shifting, a government slight of hand.

I like the rest of Stutzman's plat form, but the big problem I have is his ability to diferentitiate between tax credits, incentives and bailouts.

NBC-33 Debate poll results from 2002