Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Rough Seas from Tropical Storm Complicates Oil Response

Alex arrived earlier than any Atlantic hurricane in the last 15 years and is perhaps an ominous sign that this hurricane season will be especially active. With clean-up efforts already being overwhelmed by the volume of oil spewing into the Gulf, the arrival of high seas and winds have only made the impossible even more difficult. Fortunately, Alex is far enough from the oil spill zone and the site of the gushing pipe that efforts at the source of the spill are not believed to be impacted.

Of course, it's likely that they are, in fact, being impacted but that BP is choosing not to disclose exactly what is happening with the efforts at the leak in relation to the weather. In BP's official disaster response plans, there is no mention of contingencies involving hurricanes or tropical storms. Again, a massive oversight at both the corporate and government levels, as anyone planning large-scale operations in the Gulf of Mexico would certainly have to account for the potential weather issues in that part of the world.

And as the spill continues to spew oil into the Gulf, the most obvious questions still linger about why the pipe itself can't be capped and shut down entirely. Even with the considerable depths and pressures involved, we're basically looking at a plumbing problem. There are countless available strategies and techniques for capping high-pressure pipes, but none seem to be available to some of the best minds in the world.