Topics: Experts predict another blowout within five years. More protests at BP annual shareholder meeting. International scrutiny of BP mistakes. BP chairman says "we are a different company". US House panel votes to force more leases in in US waters. TransCanada threatens eminent domain for Keystone XL pipeline. Salazar and Bromwich get an in-depth look at drilling. Shallow-water production in the Gulf is almost done.
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #503. ROV #502 is here.
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We know it is going to happen. With greed-driven speed and lax supervision, the conditions that produced the Deepwater Horizon disaster have not been eliminated. Charles Perrow, a sociologist and organizational theorist at Yale, says the industry is "ill-prepared at the least" in drilling deepwater safely, and in containing a spill should it, inevitably, happen.
"I have seen no evidence that they have marshaled containment efforts that are sufficient to deal with another major spill. I don't think they have found ways to change the corporate culture sufficiently to prevent future accidents."
As opportunities for shallow-water drilling diminish (see last story in this diary) with the most easily accessible fields depleted - in US waters and around the world - deepwater production becomes the virtually the only source for petroleum. Even as the government tightens regulation with new, and supposedly more stringent, oversight, drilling more than a mile below the ocean's surface remains a risk-filled endeavor.
The effectiveness of the much-touted containment system is being questioned because it hasn't been tested on the sea floor. A design flaw in the blowout preventers widely used across the industry has been identified but not corrected. And regulators are allowing companies to obtain drilling permits before approving their updated oil-spill response plans.
Perrow says that even if all the regulation works as advertised, there will most likely be another major spill within a five-year span.
"I'm not an oddsmaker, but I would say in the next five years we should have at least one major blowout," Perrow said. "Even if everybody tries very hard, there is going to be an accident caused by cost-cutting and pressure on workers. These are moneymaking machines and they make money by pushing things to the limit."
Several of the big oil companies are waiting for their disaster plans to be approved. The BOEMRE says it is still operating under 2002 regulation protocols, which allows drilling permits to be granted, but a two-year time frame for the blowout plans to be approved - if they certify in writing they can handle a blowout, says agency spokeswoman Eileen Angelico.
But the "we can handle it" attitude is not going over well with environmentalists and others.
The agency "is taking the oil companies' word for it that they can handle a spill," said David Pettit, a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's leading environmental groups. "This is the same kind of deference to claimed oil company expertise that led directly to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster."
Oil companies say the "new system"can contain a blowout, even in deep water...and where have we heard that before?
Oil companies say the system is capable of quickly containing a blowout 8,000 feet under water and capturing as much as 60,000 barrels of oil per day. By comparison, at the height of the Gulf spill in mid-June, BP's well was spewing some 57,000 barrels a day at a depth of 5,000 feet.
Bromwich has said that the oil companies continue to tell BOEMRE that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was totally BP's fault, and that such a blowout just could not happen to them.
"In my judgment, this is as disappointing as it is shortsighted," Bromwich said. "Our view is this was a broad problem."
Residents of the Gulf Coast who purchased BP stock in order to attend shareholders meetings scuffled with security and police after being denied entrance to the meetings in London on Thursday.
The protesters had flown in from the US to draw attention to what they say is evidence that the Gulf continues to be badly affected by last year's spill. Louisiana fisherwoman Diane Wilson was arrested for breach of the peace after she smeared herself in an oil-like substance as she tried to gain access to the conference center. "I’ve come all the way here from the Gulf Coast,” said Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation fisherwoman from Seadrift, Texas. “My community is gone, and they won’t let me in.
Juhasz maintained that large areas on the ocean floor in the Gulf have become dead zones, coated with layers of brown, oily goo.
Dudley continued: "I disagree with your assessment that the BP oil spill has ruined life on the bottom of the ocean. It's a lifeless zone in some of these areas because of the fertiliser coming down …You say it's because of the oil, which you can't see and I can't see."
Please click on this link for a video story from the BBC on a three-generation oyster-fishing family who is now going out of business. Check out the sign announcing that fact about halfway through the report. (And sorry, you have to wait for the "advert" to finish at the beginning of the clip...) Thank you, jnhobbs, for the story.
Offshore drilling regulators from a dozen countries today said the Deepwater Horizon disaster is shaking up government oversight of coastal oil and gas exploration far beyond the Gulf of Mexico.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg reassured shareholders today that the British oil giant has become a “different company” in the year since the deadly Deepwater Horizon disaster and asked for patience as the company continues to recover from the crisis.
A bill requiring the U.S. to open areas off the Virginia coast and in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration cleared a key hurdle in the U.S. House Wednesday. The House Natural Resources Committee voted to approve the leasing measure, paving the way for a vote by the full House next month. Earlier Wednesday, the committee also voted to establish a 60-day maximum for the Interior Department to approve or deny offshore drilling permits. If Interior took longer, the permit would be deemed approved.
A Canadian company that wants to build an oil pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico is again threatening landowners with court action if they don’t sell TransCanada the rights it needs to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
The top U.S. officials in charge of offshore oil and gas exploration on Wednesday got a close-up look at the first deep-water drilling project approved since last year's oil spill.
The much maligned Deepwater Horizon project in the Gulf took place in deepwater, and for good reason - shallow water production in the area has all but run dry.
BP's partners in its Russian venture TNK-BP rejected the UK oil major's attempts to settle a dispute caused by its $18 billion tie-up with Rosneft, casting further doubt on the deal.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|4-13-11 06:00 AM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Mississippi AG v/s Feinberg, Round 2 - BP Catastrophe AUV #502||peraspera|
|4-11-11 05:42 PM||Gulf Watchers Monday-BP Money Paid for That? - BP Catastrophe AUV #501||shanesnana|
|4-10-11 11:57 AM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Why did BP buy a beach? - BP Catastrophe AUV #500||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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