WorldWide Drilling Resource

22 SEPTEMBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Common Sense Isn’t All That Common by Britt Storkson - Owner, P2FlowLLC The above quote is attributed to Voltaire (1694-1778), a French writer, historian, and philosopher. Another good quote on the subject of common sense is: “It is a thousand times better to have common sense without edu- cation than to have education without common sense.” ~ Robert Green Ingersoll Given the recent cyberattacks involving Colonial Pipeline and JBS meatpacking (so far), these “hacks” have caused much in the way of costly downtime and at the very least major inconvenience for a lot of people. Since nothing these companies do requires an Internet connection, why did the hacks happen? The answer: Common sense or, more specifically, the lack of it. Common sense would tell most of us that if we don’t want something to be hacked, attacked, or otherwise compromised by an external malefactor, to not connect it to the Internet in the first place . . . even if it means lack of convenience or requires more labor to do this. The cost of even one hack is simply unacceptable. Yet, what do almost all of these “Titans of Industry” do when given the choice of connecting or not connecting critical control systems to the Internet? Connecting these systems to the Internet is tantamount to hanging a sign outside the company inviting the crooks to come in. And, if the crooks think it’s worth their time, they will - sooner or later. I’ve witnessed several “incidents” over the years illustrating a lack of common sense. At one company I was employed at, workers tried to refill a gasoline-powered water pump shortly after it had stopped and was still hot. Of course, gasoline was spilled on the hot exhaust manifold and ignited, starting a fire which damaged the pump and motor beyond repair. To replace it, I offered to build an electric pump on a dolly so it could be easily moved around to where it was needed. It didn’t use gasoline and there were many electrical outlets in the area it was needed, so the power source wasn’t a problem. Using a variable fre- quency drive and some simple controls would make it nearly impossible to damage under any conditions, unlike the gasoline-powered pump. Even though this was a commonsense solution and the costs for the gasoline- and electric-powered units were about the same and this company prided itself for being on the “cutting edge” and innovative ~ how do you think the “Titans” of this industry decided to go? You guessed it. They bought another gasoline-powered water pump. What’s the saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Of course, there is sort of a natural “inertia” to stay the course, “don’t make waves”, and go with the conventional wisdom - and to a certain degree it makes sense. If what you’re doing doesn’t present any problems and makes sense money-wise, there’s no reason to change. Change just for the sake of change isn’t a good reason to change either. But rejecting a clearly superior technology, if the technology prevented even one breakdown it would pay for itself and then some, doesn’t make any sense. While I’ve chronicled instances of improper use and overuse of computer controls, there are times when they make a lot of sense. The wisdom comes in knowing the difference. Britt Britt Storkson may be contacted via e-mail to