Monday, November 29, 1999

BP says progress in effort to contain oil spill

News posted by

Energy giant BP was making some progress on Monday with its efforts to contain the oil gushing forth from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico,But the stakes are high amid fears of an ecological and economic calamity along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Investors have already knocked around $30 billion off BP's value and its share price will be closely watched this week.After several tough weeks, this is shaping up to be another rough one for the company. A U.S Labor Department official told the Financial Times that BP has a "systematic safety problem" at its refineries."BP executives, they talk a good line. They say they want to improve safety," Jordan Barab, a senior official at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told the paper."But it doesn't always translate down to the refineries themselves. They still have a systematic safety problem."Last year U.S. regulators slapped a record $87.4 million fine on BP for failing to fix safety violations at its Texas City refinery after a deadly 2005 explosion.For INSIDER TV, click Graphic, click reported limited success at containing the oil flow on Sunday but a skeptical Obama administration downplayed it.After other attempts to contain the spill failed, BP succeeded in inserting a tube into the well and capturing some oil and gas. The underwater operation used guided robots to insert a small tube into a 21-inch (53-cm) pipe, known as a riser, to funnel the oil to a ship at the surface.Not all of the oil was being trapped, however."This is a good step forward," said Satish Nagarajaiah, professor in civil and mechanical engineering at Rice University in Houston, but he said the siphon tool is unlikely to capture more than 15-20 percent of the oil."NOT A SOLUTION"President Barack Obama's administration, which over the weekend also pressed BP to make clear its commitment to covering the spill's costs, was unimpressed."This technique is not a solution to the problem," Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a joint statement.Preparations for a maneuver to inject mud into the well to stop the leak for good are also expected to be completed in seven to 10 days. Undersea robots are preparing pipes and hoses around the well to pump up to 40 barrels (1,680 gallons) per minute of mud into the well.BP's best near-term hope of stopping oil from pouring from the well is "kill mud," a heavy mixture of synthetic materials that technicians will attempt to shoot into the well to form a barrier to prevent oil and gas from escaping.If the mud fails to seal the well, BP will attempt to inject golf balls, tire fragments and other materials into the well to clog it up, known in the industry as a "junk shot."BP's earlier attempts to contain the leaking well have been stymied by the technical difficulties of working in the sea floor's cold, dark conditions.The spill began after an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers. It threatens to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska as the worst U.S. ecological disaster.On the CBS news show "60 Minutes," rig survivor Mike Williams described some of the disturbing incidents that proceeded the accident, including another crewman's discovery of chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid."He thought it was important ... I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, 'Oh, it's, it's no big deal.' And I thought, 'How can it be not a big deal? There's chunks of our seal now missing,'" he said.He also said BP was applying pressure to get the drilling operation done faster.Along the coast Gulf, residents are angry.Dean Ansardi, 53, a shrimp boat captain in the south Louisiana village of Cocodrie gestured at an empty pier while sharing a drink with friends."That's a shrimp deck. People come in to unload their shrimp. You see anybody unloading now? ... It takes me $3,500 to leave the dock for a seven-day trip. That's fuel, ice and groceries. And then I couldn't go out. Who do you think is footing the bill?," he said.Officials have stressed the spill so far has had minimal impact on the shoreline and wildlife but there are concerns the oil slick will reach fragile bayous and marshes teeming with shrimp, oysters, crabs, fish, birds and other wildlife.Reports of underwater oil plumes in the Gulf -- including one as large as 10 miles (16 km) long, three miles (5 km) wide and 300 feet (91 metres) thick -- underscored the gravity of the situation.(Writing by by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Chris Wilson)

News posted by

Click here to read more news from
Please follow our blogs



No comments:

Post a Comment