Editorial: The Old Rock 14.01.2011

On December 23rd 2009, a Transocean rig operating under contract to Shell in the Bardolino field in the North Sea almost suffered a similar blowout to that of the same company’s Deepwater Horizon rig four months later, which sent millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Mercifully, the Sedco 711’s blowout preventer worked, preventing a disaster.

This is revealed by President Obama’s Oil Spill Commission, although Transocean chose not to divulge the information to the House of Commons energy and climate change committee which last week recommended that deepwater drilling should not be halted.

Transocean subsequently produced a Powerpoint presentation on the Sedco incident, highlighting the need for increased vigilance, but neither it nor a follow-up advisory notice made it to the Deepwater Horizon.

Poor communication and a tendency to take higher risks on safety matters – common to BP, Transocean and Halliburton, all of which have a global presence – are among the most piercing criticisms of the Obama commission. It is morally indefensible for the oil industry to be cutting corners at any time, never mind when high prices are yielding excessive profits.

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Does anybody understand the SNP’s policy on school closures, or has it been supplanted by populist politics?

No-one could possibly object to the notion that schools should only be closed as a last resort and when there is a strong educational case for doing so. Yet Audit Scotland repeatedly exhorts the SIC to take tough, cash-saving decisions on schools against the backdrop of declining rolls.

It remains to be seen whether the government will overturn the Scalloway closure, but whatever the decision the council would be justified in complaining about the mixed messages from Edinburgh.


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