Monday, April 24, 2006

"No one could have anticipated," part XII

Rebuilding of Iraqi Pipeline as Disaster Waiting to Happen - New York Times
The project, called the Fatah pipeline crossing, had been a critical element of a $2.4 billion no-bid reconstruction contract that a Halliburton subsidiary had won from the Army in 2003. The spot where about 15 pipelines crossed the Tigris had been the main link between Iraq's rich northern oil fields and the export terminals and refineries that could generate much-needed gasoline, heating fuel and revenue for Iraqis.

For all those reasons, the project's demise would seriously damage the American-led effort to restore Iraq's oil system and enable the country to pay for its own reconstruction. Exactly what portion of Iraq's lost oil revenue can be attributed to one failed project, no matter how critical, is impossible to calculate. But the pipeline at Al Fatah has a wider significance as a metaphor for the entire $45 billion rebuilding effort in Iraq. Although the failures of that effort are routinely attributed to insurgent attacks, an examination of this project shows that troubled decision-making and execution have played equally important roles.

The Fatah project went ahead despite warnings from experts that it could not succeed because the underground terrain was shattered and unstable.

It continued chewing up astonishing amounts of cash when the predicted problems bogged the work down, with a contract that allowed crews to charge as much as $100,000 a day as they waited on standby.

The company in charge engaged in what some American officials saw as a self-serving attempt to limit communications with the government until all the money was gone.

And until Mr. Sanders went to Al Fatah, the Army Corps of Engineers, which administered the project, allowed the show to go on for months, even as individual Corps officials said they repeatedly voiced doubts about its chances of success.

The Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, formerly Kellogg Brown & Root, had commissioned a geotechnical report that warned in August 2003 that it would be courting disaster to drill without extensive underground tests.

"No driller in his right mind would have gone ahead," said Mr. Sanders, a geologist who came across the report when he arrived at the site.

KBR defended its performance on the project, and said that the information in the geotechnical report was too general to serve as a warning.

Do you have a joke that you can hear, or even tell, over and over again, and laugh every time?

Mine is the "Does your dog bite?" gag from Peter Sellers' "The Pink Panther Strikes Again."

I have to believe this is a lot like that. These guys must laugh their asses off after each iteration of the "no one could have anticipated" riff.

And on and on.

Fucking hilarious.


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