Saturday, 12 March 2011

What's Next in Dealing With the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf

By George Chan
Platinum Quality Author
With the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil well on April 20, 2010, the BP oil spill became the worst ecological disaster in the history of the United States. Oil started gushing out in unprecedented amounts and continued doing so, unchecked, for weeks. An estimated 40,000 barrels a day were leaking into the sea, from an uncontrollable well lying nearly 5,000 feet below the water's surface.
Finally, by June 4, a temporary cap was fitted which slowed down the gushing oil and also made it possible to funnel off some of the leaking petroleum into awaiting ships. BP was still trying to figure out a permanent fix and went to bid on a cap that could be fitted to stop the flow completely. The plan was to drill a new, relief well and then 'kill' the first well by filling it with mud and concrete.
With the first cap in place BP announced it was collecting nearly 16,000 barrels of oil per day. The BP oil spill was still spewing most of its product into the sea, but at a somewhat slower rate. It's not until July 15 that a new cap is placed and seems to be successful in stemming the flow. Now, with the oil temporarily shut off, BP says it will take the opportunity to test the well's integrity. In the meantime, the relief well is drilled about five feet away from the original.
President Obama tapped Admiral Thad Allen, who is the top man in the U.S. Coast Guard and was only weeks away from retirement when the BP oil spill occurred, to head up the relief efforts. Allen had been instrumental in handling the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was credited with turning around the Bush administrations woeful response to that disaster.
Seemingly apolitical and displaying what has been called 'non-corporate competence', Allen is known for telling it like it is in unvarnished fashion. While BP news conferences tended toward optimism without justification, Allen's almost daily news briefs have been much more factual and accurate. When the second cap was placed Allen voiced his concern for a "detected seep" coming from the sea floor near the well. If methane gas was still escaping, there was a good chance oil was still being released also.
Now that Tropical Storm Bonnie has come and gone, they're back to work trying to permanently plug the well and clean up the BP oil spill. The damage has been done and it's not over yet.
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