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COMP 2903 A 27 – The BP Oils Spill: Could Software be a Culprit? COMP 2903 A 27 – The BP Oils Spill: Could Software be a Culprit? Danny Silver JSOCS, Acadia University

Don Shafer and Phillip A. Laplante IT Professional from the IEEE Computer Society, Aug Don Shafer and Phillip A. Laplante IT Professional from the IEEE Computer Society, Aug 19, 2010 • Funny errors -- http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=n 6 p 0 Zodyx 4 M

Deepwater Horizon Disaster Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Software Failures on Oil Rigs • • Mishandled alarms because of user interface Untested Software Failures on Oil Rigs • • Mishandled alarms because of user interface Untested portions of code Frozen screens (op. system, app. glitches) Lack of audit trails (recording of data/user actions) • Is it possible that the Deepwater Horizon was caused by software?

Evidence? • Transocean’s interim report to House of Rep. on June 8, 2010 stated Evidence? • Transocean’s interim report to House of Rep. on June 8, 2010 stated that a full controlsystem software review was needed • July 19, 2010 article in Houston Chronicle: “display screens on the primary workstation used to operate the drill controls. . had locked up more than once before the deadly accicent”

Speculation – What could have Happened? • Rigs have numerous software subsystems • Variations Speculation – What could have Happened? • Rigs have numerous software subsystems • Variations in hardware, firmware, operating systems, and applications can cause problems similar to that on your laptops • Engineers make best efforts to test/ retest • Hardware and software interfaces are the weakest links • Industry lacks standards in these areas

Mishandled Software Alarms • Alarms are not acted on because: – They are not Mishandled Software Alarms • Alarms are not acted on because: – They are not properly prioritized – There are so many (50 in 10 minutes), the minor ones cry wolf • Calibration errors • Flooding errors

Possible feal failures that could have caused the DH Disaster • Buried Alarm – Possible feal failures that could have caused the DH Disaster • Buried Alarm – Driller misinterprets “Mud Trip Tank Overflow” alarm as some other minor alarm and clears it • Missed Alarm – Mud pump fails, but operator considers alarm is because of sensor problem – Software interface so cluttered that user fails to notice details in alarm that point to true cause • Alarm Calibration Error – No alarms existed for detecting unusually high flow and vibration levels in pipes and pumps

Worlds Worst Software Bugs • http: //www. wired. com/software/coolapps/ne ws/2005/11/69355? current. Page=all Worlds Worst Software Bugs • http: //www. wired. com/software/coolapps/ne ws/2005/11/69355? current. Page=all