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US Oil Catastrophy [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2010-5-10 10:20:37 |Display all floors
By GUY CHAZAN and NEIL KING
BP PLC engineers struggled over the weekend to overcome problems with a containment dome the company hopes might capture much of the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Challenges with the dome come as White House officials, U.S. lawmakers and others in the industry ask whether BP failed to foresee and prepare for a disaster of this scale, as doubts deepen over the company's ability to handle the spill.

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European Pressphoto Agency

Researcher Lisa Pfau tests for oil Sunday near Pass Christian, Miss
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.BP assured regulators last year that oil would come ashore only in a small area of Louisiana, even in the event of a spill much larger than the current one. But as of Sunday evening, authorities reported that black, gooey balls were washing up on beaches in Alabama, farther than the company's original calculation.

BP spent Sunday trying to determine how to proceed with the huge metal-and-concrete containment dome, after it got clogged with crystallized gas 5,000 feet below the surface. The contraption was designed to sit over the leaking pipe and funnel as much as 85% of the oil to the surface, where it could be captured.

The four-story, 98-ton dome took the company two weeks to build and deploy—evidence, critics say, that the company didn't envision or prepare for the sort of blowout that occurred last month.

"The only thing that's clear is that there was a catastrophic failure of risk management," said Nansen Saleri, a Houston-based expert in oil-reservoir management and a former top official at Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company.

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.BP defended its actions. "You have here an unprecedented event—never before have you seen a blowout at such depth and never before has a blowout preventer failed in this way," BP spokesman Andrew Gowers said. "The unthinkable has become thinkable, and the whole industry will be asking searching questions of itself."

The dome is now sitting on the seabed, about 600 feet away from the main leak. Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP's exploration and production division, denied the operation had failed and said the company was trying to figure out a way of providing heat at a depth of 5,000 feet to melt the crystals. BP had anticipated that the crystallized gas, called hydrates, could form in the pipe connecting the dome to the surface vessel, but not inside the dome itself.

BP also said it would try to deploy a smaller "top hat" dome that will form a tighter fit around the leak, hopefully preventing more water from entering the device and forming hydrates, Mr. Suttles said. The top hat will be lowered on Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.

BP and its partner on the project, Transocean Ltd., will face two Senate panels Tuesday on the April 20th explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers. The rig sank two days later, setting off an oil leak that has since released around 85,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The issue of BP's preparedness is sure to be a prime topic at the hearing, according to Senate staffers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that his "own preliminary observations" were that BP and its partners had made "some very major mistakes" leading up to and after the disaster.

Some in the oil industry questioned why it took the company so long to come up with the idea of a containment dome, and why it didn't have one ready to use.

"There should be technology that's pre-existing and ready to deploy at the drop of a hat," said one former Transocean executive. "It shouldn't have to be designed and fabricated now, from scratch."

BP is also struggling to secure sufficient amounts of booms, the floating strips used to keep oil offshore, and a large enough fleet of skimmer boats to keep the slick from spreading.

BP's general spill plan, which was updated last summer, shows that the company's claimed abilities were out of sync with the realities of the spill. Under the plan, BP said that the worst spill from a mobile drilling operation would come from a lease called the Mississippi Canyon 462, about 33 miles off the Louisiana coast. A blowout of that lease could discharge a mammoth 250,000 barrels a day, BP said, 50 times the estimated flow of the current leak. Yet BP claimed to have in place sufficient booms, stocks of dispersants and skimmers to deal with a spill far in excess of the volume it is now struggling to contain.

BP's plan, as submitted to the Mineral Management Service, placed exceedingly low probabilities on oil reaching land in the event of a major spill. Even in the case of the worst spill, BP said, there was only a 3% chance that oil would come ashore after a month in any part of the Gulf other than Plaquemines, La., which juts into the Gulf south of New Orleans.

Mr. Gowers defended BP's clean-up operation. "We moved very rapidly to implement the approved response to the accident," he said. "The evidence for that is the huge containment effort on the surface and onshore."

—Brian Baskin contributed to this article.

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Post time 2010-5-10 10:29:46 |Display all floors

Oil spill grows to 3.5M gallons as BP scrambles

Asia-Pacific
Oil spill grows to 3.5M gallons as BP scrambles
(Agencies)
Updated: 2010-05-10 06:29ON THE GULF OF MEXICO – A growing collection of crippled equipment littered the ocean floor Sunday near a ruptured oil well gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the remnants of a massive rig that exploded weeks ago and the failed efforts since to cap the leak.


Black waves of oil and brown whitecaps are seen off the side of the supply vessel Joe Griffin at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill containment efforts in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, Sunday, May 9, 2010. [Agencies]  
On the surface, nearly a mile up, a fleet of ships maneuvered to deploy the latest stopgap plans hatched by BP engineers desperate to keep the Deepwater Horizon disaster from becoming the nation's worst spill. An estimated 3.5 million gallons has risen from the depths since the April 20 explosion that killed 11, a pace that would surpass the total spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster by Father's Day.

A day after icelike crystals clogged a four-story box that workers had lowered atop the main leak, crews using remote-controlled submarines hauled the specially built structure more than a quarter-mile away and prepared other long-shot methods of stopping the flow.

Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said BP was thinking about putting a smaller containment dome over the massive leak, believing that it would be less vulnerable. The smaller dome could be ready to deploy Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We're going to pursue the first option that's available to us and we think it'll be the top hat," Suttles said.

The company was also now debating whether it should cut the riser pipe undersea and use larger piping to bring the gushing oil to a drill ship on the surface. The third option would use a tube to shoot ground-up materials into the well's blowout preventer, a process that could take two to three weeks.

As BP weighed its options on the mainland, waves of dark brown and black sludge crashed into a boat in the area above the leak. The fumes there were so intense that a crewmember of the support ship Joe Griffin and an AP photographer on board had to wear respirators while on deck.

A white cattle egret landed on the ship, brownish-colored stains of oil on its face and along its chest, wings and tail.

Meanwhile, thick blobs of tar had washed up on Alabama's white sand beaches, yet another sign the spill was spreading.

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It had taken about two weeks to build the box and three days to cart the containment box 50 miles out and slowly lower it to the well a mile below the surface, but the frozen depths were just too much.

Company and Coast Guard officials had cautioned that icelike hydrates, a slushy mixture of gas and water, would be one of the biggest challenges to the containment box plan. The crystals clogged the opening in the top of the peaked box, Suttles said, like sand in a funnel, only upside-down.

"We never believed the hydrates could actually plug up a 12-inch opening and they did, which means they're forming very rapidly and in large quantities," Suttles said.

The containment box plan, never before tried at such depths, had been designed to siphon up to 85 percent of the leaking oil.

The original blowout was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP PLC's internal investigation. Deep sea oil drillers often encounter pockets of methane crystals as they dig into the earth.

As the bubble rose, it intensified and grew, breaking through various safety barriers, said Robert Bea, a University of California Berkley engineering professor and oil pipeline expert who detailed the interviews exclusively to an AP reporter.

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Post time 2010-5-10 11:26:12 |Display all floors
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Post time 2010-5-10 13:28:44 |Display all floors

disaster -

I find it a shame that the US goes to wars to push their narrow views onto others.

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Post time 2010-5-10 13:29:54 |Display all floors

BP

BP is the successor of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company which has a long and crooked history.It was
Mossadegh's nationalisation of this company that triggered the CIA coup that toppled Mossadegh and
brought in the Shah.

BP has been involved in at least one other environmental disaster and has had at least two major accidents
involving many fatalities.One of these was at a Texas refinery.

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Post time 2010-5-10 13:33:33 |Display all floors
Originally posted by petera at 2010-5-10 13:29
BP is the successor of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company which has a long and crooked history.It was
Mossadegh's nationalisation of this company that triggered the CIA coup that toppled Mossadegh and ...


The reaction and the handling are just as disastrous.

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Post time 2010-5-10 14:12:25 |Display all floors
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