Gulf oil spill update

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig rig explosion was bound to put some pressure on the Obama administration to renounce the plan it announced just three weeks earlier to open new areas to offshore drilling. Today, the President ordered Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to report on how to reduce the risk of oil spills from offshore rigs, and ordered that no new leases go ahead until adequate safeguards can be assured.

That delay is not likely to have any practical impact, because the report is due in 30 days and no lease sales were planned over that time anyway. But it does show that the administration, understandably, feels the need to provide greater assurances of safety before moving ahead with new leasing. As Rick noted earlier, the story had been that modern drilling technology would prevent any repeat of the 1969 Santa Barbara disaster. That claim is no longer reassuring, in the face of the failure of Deepwater Horizon’s blowout prevention system. The White House is now saying that it won’t rule out changes in its offshore drilling plan based on Salazar’s report. You can bet there will be big changes if the investigation suggests that this kind of incident could occur at another platform.

Meanwhile, it’s time to bring in the lawyers.  According to the New York Times:

[T]he Justice Department said Friday it was sending a team of attorneys to New Orleans to meet with the U.S. attorney and response teams and to monitor the spill.

”The British Petroleum oil spill has already cost lives and created a major environmental incident,” Attorney General Holder said in a statement. ”The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers.”

Several civil suits already have been filed by private lawyers in the Gulf region.

And of course work is continuing to contain and clean up the oil, which is fast approaching the coastline. The shrimp season has been closed almost as soon as it began. BP is hiring idled fishermen for cleanup work, but so far isn’t offering to make up for their lost fishing income.

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Gulf oil spill update”

  1. Lots of links at the NY Times Lede blog to the increased danger of deep drilling and a procedure called cementing that seals the wells. And wouldn’t you know it, Halliburton was doing the cementing at the time.

    “Halliburton also was the cementer on a well that suffered a big blowout last August in the Timor Sea, off Australia. The rig there caught fire and a well leaked tens of thousands of barrels of oil over 10 weeks before it was shut down. The investigation is continuing; Halliburton declined to comment on it.”

  2. What a beautiful leak. I love the oily mass that bulges outwards from a bent pipe. A brown Rorschach blot of the automobile culture.

    My most fervent hope is that all efforts to stop and mitigate this masterwork are failures.

    I would love to see a sea of greasy oil, the Devil’s blood, flowing into the ocean forever more.

    Then the World can move on into its next phase, the Dark Phase of death, decline and destruction. Soon, all the works of humans will decay and so too will themselves be brought to the altar of slaughter, to account for their crimes of existence.

  3. What do you think will happen if you put a funnel that allows 1 gal per minute over a hose nozzle that puts out 20 gal per minute? It wont work .It will pressure up and push the funnel away. They need to put two large BOPs on top of that dome.Test them before they lower it and add pipe on the center flange,as they lower the dome to the floor.It would be a good idea to have pressure monitors on the dome also. If there is a negative pressure or big enough openings on the dome ,left open until it is anchored over the leak,then it will work.
    Get at it BP this is not only the gulf, it is our world you are playing with.

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About Holly

Holly Doremus is the James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation at UC Berkeley. Doremus brings a strong background in life sciences and a comm…

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About Holly

Holly Doremus is the James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation at UC Berkeley. Doremus brings a strong background in life sciences and a comm…

READ more