August 8th, 2010
10:43 AM ET
4 years ago

Allen reflects on dealing with blowout, gives BP a mixed grade

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen spoke with CNN Sunday about lessons learned from the Gulf oil spill.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen spoke with CNN Sunday about lessons learned from the Gulf oil spill.

Washington (CNN) – As he reflects on lessons learned from dealing with the Gulf oil spill, the man charged with leading the federal response gave embattled energy giant BP a mixed grade Sunday.

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union to give BP a grade from “A” to “F,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen separately assessed different aspects of the company’s response to the blown out well.

“At the well head, I’m not sure there’s any oil company that could have done anything more than they did,” Allen told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “The technology that was needed to be brought in for other parts of the world, was [brought in]. It took a long time to engineer it. It took a long time to install it. But, ultimately, it helped us put the cap on and control the well. So I give them fairly good marks there.”

But Allen quickly added that where the energy giant’s performance has been lacking is in having a human touch.

“What BP is not good at: they’re a large global oil production company. They don’t do retail sales or deal with individuals on a transactional basis. Anything’s that involved that has been a real struggle for them,” Allen told Crowley.

He added, “It’s something they don’t naturally have a capacity or a competency in their company and it’s been very, very hard for them to understand. And that’s the lens by which the American people view them and that’s the area where they need to improve the most.”

Allen also reflected on what the oil industry has learned in terms of production technology in the course of trying to bring the rogue well under control.

The former Coast Guard official told Crowley technology of the sort used to cap the well must be made a part of deepwater drilling going forward.

“Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was done by wells that were on the bottom of the ocean with all the technology on the bottom of the ocean where there was no human access and all the oil was moved by pipes. We’ve had to bring in technology from the North Sea and off the coast of Africa to build these floating risers to create a production system that’s able to deal with this spill.

“I think what everybody’s learned moving through this is that there’s going to have to be a different type of production method out there that includes the type of technology that they’ve used to cap this well and capture the oil and that needs to be a permanent part moving forward.”

Asked whether the new technology could be integrated by November when the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling is set to be lifted, Allen pointed out that the necessary technology “has already been built around this well.” He added that the oil and gas industry is already starting to consider forming a consortium “to keep this type of equipment and take a look at it. And that’s going to have to be a fundamental part of this.”

Related: BP vows to share what it learned from killing Gulf well


Filed under: BP • Energy • issues • Oil spill • State of the Union • Thad Allen
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. vic

    Glad Oil is removed from Gulf coast

    Now days I hate Main stream media but when it comes to Gulf Oil spill Main stream media (except FOX) did a good job specially CNN. I don’t know BP scared of federal government but they were scared of AC 360. I will give 60 % of the credit main stream media 40% goes to federal and local governments 0 % BP

    August 8, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    He looks like Ollver Hardy's long lost son!

    August 8, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. USN

    How about an F for obama , over 2 months before accepting help to stop the oil.

    August 8, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. JIM CARROLL

    Since the Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, why
    do they not assume any responsibility for creating jobs, but hoard money under the mattress? Let the Bush Tax Cuts expire! Let the whiners of Wall Street whine! Find answers at the internetfreepress.

    August 8, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. diridi

    continuously crying on pres. obama is no good, at least he is not looting the nation like Dick Cheney, George Bush....o.k. He is doing great job for the nation, passed health care, financial reform...etc., he needs to pass energy and climate reform, and immigration....he needs to hire more auditors...in IRS. 400 B dollars left uncollected yearly....20 years of GOP regime....eh, do not be partisan, be true American....Pres. Obama, you are going great job....not going to Texas like Bush for vacation....

    August 8, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Rushs unseen, unheard, staff are the people he has callin to his show

    I think this clown was on BPs and big oils payroll when he was in the coast guard.He looked the other way alot.

    August 8, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. GI Joe

    Looks like corporate luvin' teabaggers are out in force today.

    Vote NO to the party of NO in NOvember.

    Let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire – they didn't give us jobs for 10 years, they won't give us jobs next year. They're hoarding the money in their off-shore accounts.

    August 8, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. GI Joe

    What would YOU have done to stop the well?

    Tell us. WHAT?????

    August 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Marie MD

    @USN – WRONG!!! see below and turn off limberger and little girl beck.
    There were 24 foreign vessels operating in the region and nine countries had provided boom, skimmers and other assistance. As early as May 11th boom arrived from Mexico, Norway and Brazil."
    The administration had to follow the Jones Act which is a law. Read below.
    Two parts of the Jones Act are of particular historical importance. The first heavily promoted American built, owned, and staffed ships. This was accomplished by restricting shipping and passenger trade within the United States to American owned or American flagged ships, and stipulated that 75% of a ship's crew must consist of American citizens. In addition, the use of foreign parts and labor in ship construction and repair was also heavily restricted. This section of the Jones Act was intended to create a strong, well staffed Merchant Marine which could ably serve the United States during both peace and war.
    The second important section of the Jones Act created benefits for sailors which are extremely far reaching. Any sailor who is injured at sea is entitled to maintenance and cure, meaning that the sailor's employer must pay him or her a daily stipend and provide medical care to treat the injury. In addition, sailors can also sue for damages if their injuries were caused by negligence on the part of the ship's owners or other crew members, or if they sailed on unseaworthy vessels. These damages include death benefits, in the event that a sailor is killed on the job.
    The Jones Act and the benefits it provides are extremely complex, and mariners who are eligible for claims under the Jones Act should always consult an attorney who is familiar with the Jones Act.

    August 8, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Chipster

    USN: Where do you get your information? The President had a team in place within 48 hours of the disaster. Check the timeline and you will find that resources, including the Navy, DOI, EPA, and even the park services were planning and preparing almost immediately. The Navy had divers in the water searching for the missing workers and for signs of oil leaks right away. I keep seeing these accusations and it's obvious that people are believing nonsense instead of learning the facts.

    One blogger even claimed that Obama never addressed the American people for 60 days. Not true, he spoke directly from the Rose Garden a little more than a week after the disaster. There is so much politically motivated misinformation flooding the Internet.

    August 8, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. snow

    The nobama administration get's an "F" because there is nothing lower. Hey DIRIDI, you need to keep quiet because you are only showing that you are either an idiot or live off government assistance or both. MARIE IN MD you are worse than above. The Jones Act was waived by President Bush withing a couple of days for Katrina. nobummer did not waive it because it would have upset the unions and on top of that it took nobummer two months to allow foreign scimmers into our waters. Alot of that oil that escaped could have been siphoned if he had not declined foreigh countries help with the oil clean up from day one.

    August 8, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. jim

    If people want to believe that OBAMA did a good job of managing the disaster in the gulf than these same people will believe anything they've been told. That is why we have this person in the W.H.

    August 8, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. vic

    Detroit create jobs (car dealers) every county in USA why my party don’t get this why they don’t want help states even I didn’t support bailouts Obama did the right thing . Time for us to say we were wrong. Face the election as a gentlemen stop attacking Obama say we can do better

    August 8, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Bpgohome

    GI joe says: What would YOU have done to stop the well? - I would have put on a BP or capping stack in May and not waited for a "custom" made one. The parts for making the capping stack are standard items. The one I would have put on would not have had all the provisions for oil collection that this one had, but it would have done the job. The special connector at the riser flange is not that special, collet connectors are used in deepwater applications regularly. The idea that this capping stack was the space shuttle and putting it on was like landing on the moon is ridiculous.

    August 8, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Bpgohome

    Robert Cavnar , an oil industry executive and 30 year veteran of the oil exploration trade had this to say:

    CAVNAR: Oh, clearly, they could have been put this stack on weeks ago, had it been prepared or had they been ready to do that. This is something that‘s made of components that are basically off the shelf, not real custom things. They‘re deepwater—they‘re not like you buy them at the hardware store, but they‘re—but they‘re common to the deepwater, and this could have been done much earlier, I believe, than it was.

    August 8, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    Bpgohome August 8th, 2010 12:29 pm ET

    GI joe says: What would YOU have done to stop the well? – I would have put on a BP or capping stack in May and not waited for a "custom" made one. The parts for making the capping stack are standard items. The one I would have put on would not have had all the provisions for oil collection that this one had, but it would have done the job. The special connector at the riser flange is not that special, collet connectors are used in deepwater applications regularly. The idea that this capping stack was the space shuttle and putting it on was like landing on the moon is ridiculous.
    -----------------

    Why didn't you? Aren't you a human just like everyone else, from President Obama to the average "joe" on the street? Why didn't yo?

    August 8, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    SNOW – as soon as you use silly grade-school names in your posts, you lose all credibility. Tell your mommy we all said hello.

    August 8, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Deb n Texas

    CNN, I hear that you are about to go OUT OF BUSINESS. WELL DESERVED, you keep talking about STUPID SARAH PALIN and the like – PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF STUPIDITY. You don't have anything else to discuss on your blogs other than Sarah Palin on every other topic. Every intelligent person know Sarah Palin has a low IQ – why don't you?

    August 8, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |