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Old 05-03-2010, 03:13 AM
JessE
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Exclamation Ecological Disaster - Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Quote:
April 21, 2010 10:39 p.m. EDT

(CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort Wednesday for 11 people missing after a "catastrophic" explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed the drilling platform in flames. Another 17 people were injured -- three critically -- in the blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which occurred about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry. As of late afternoon Wednesday as many as six firefighting vessels were working to contain the massive fire caused by the explosion.


"It obviously was a catastrophic event," O'Berry said.


An investigation into the cause of the blast is under way, but there are no indications it was a terrorist incident, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard dispatched helicopters from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, to help evacuate workers from the rig and search for the missing. It also sent four cutters to the scene.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said search and rescue crews in the air and sea were prepared to search through the night for the missing workers using infrared devices.

It was not known whether the workers were able to make it to one of the rig's lifeboats -- fully enclosed, fire-resistant vessels designed to evacuate people quickly.

Officials said 126 people were on board at the time of the explosion.




Video: Pilots, diver head to oil rig blast scene






Of the 115 accounted-for workers, 17 injured were evacuated by helicopter from the rig. Another 94 people were taken to shore with no major injuries, and four more were transferred to another vessel, according to the Coast Guard.

Several people were hospitalized, including at least two who were taken to a mobile trauma center.

Six people were taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, according to spokesman Bob Lowry. Five were treated and released, and one was admitted to the facility's burn center, Lowry said.

Four people were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in the New Orleans suburb of Marrero. Two were taken by ground at 3:20 a.m., and two were flown in at 5:45 a.m., said hospital spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo. All four were treated and had been released by 11:15 a.m., she said.

Adrian Rose, a vice president for Transocean Ltd., the company that owns the rig, said Wednesday that "we are deeply saddened by this event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the crew members of the Deepwater Horizon and their families."


Transocean's website describes the company as the "world's largest offshore drilling contractor and the leading provider of drilling management services worldwide" with 140 offshore drilling units.


The rig involved in the explosion -- a mobile unit that moves to different locations in the Gulf of Mexico -- had been drilling for oil in its current location since January, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for Minerals Management Service, the agency that regulates the oil industry in federal waters.


The rig had undergone at least three safety inspections since January, according to Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes.
Before the blast, there was "no indication of any problems" as crew members carried out routine work around the drill site, Rose said.
He said the vessel didn't appear to be in danger of capsizing after the blast, though it was listing up to 10 degrees by Tuesday evening as fire damaged the rig and water from the firefighting vessels added weight.
Seven major oil spill response vessels were being dispatched to the
scene to help prevent any polluting of the waters in the vicinity.


"If there is any pollution, we believe it is minor pollution because most of the oil and gas is burning," said David Rainey, a vice president for BP. But he warned the situation could change once the fire is contained.
However as of Tuesday afternoon, there was only a moderate sheen in the water and not a large spill, Landry said.


Photos and videos released by the Coast Guard showed workers being evacuated from the scene by helicopter and a massive plume of smoke reaching hundreds of feet into the air as vessels poured water on to the burning rig.


Fires on oil rigs are rare because engineers design them with safety in mind, said Greg McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service for the University of Texas.


"They've built safety into the rigs. They've built safety into the operations, because they know that if you have a fire on an isolated rig that's out in the Gulf, you have a real issue," McCormack said Wednesday.






Even with lifeboats on hand, evacuating rigs is difficult, he said, and emergency crews can be delayed.


"The worst thing that can happen on an oil rig is you have a fire, and then you have to evacuate without the fire being put out, because then it can only get worse," McCormack said.


The Minerals Management Service said 39 fires or explosions were reported offshore in the Gulf of Mexico in the first five months of 2009, the latest period for which statistics are available. The agency categorized all of those incidents as "minor" or "incidental."


According to the Minerals Management Service, there are 90 active rigs working in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The agency puts the level of oil production in the Gulf at 1.7 million barrels per day and 6.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day as of October 2009.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/21/oil...losion/?hpt=T2

Last edited by JessE; 05-03-2010 at 04:24 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-03-2010, 03:15 AM
JessE
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April 22, 2010

(CNN) -- A 1-by-5-mile sheen of crude oil mix has spread across the Gulf of Mexico's surface around the area where an oil rig exploded and sank, a Coast Guard lieutenant said Thursday.


"This is a rainbow sheen with a dark center," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters Thursday afternoon.


Officials do not know whether oil or fuel are leaking form the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig and the well below, but BP Vice President David Rainey said "it certainly has the potential to be a major spill." BP PLC operates the license on which the rig was drilling.


A remotely-operated vehicle is surveying the area and cleanup efforts are already under way, Landry said. The sheen "probably is residual from the fire and the activity that was going on on this rig before it sank below the surface," she said.


Meanwhile, the Coast Guard continued to search for 11 people missing after an explosion late Tuesday set the rig ablaze forcing workers to be evacuated from the vessel. Officials are still unsure what caused the blast.
"We do continue with search and rescue," Landry said. "As time passes, however, the probability of success in locating the 11 missing persons decreases."





Adrian Rose, a vice president for rig owner Transocean Ltd, told reporters that the missing workers may not have been able to get off the rig.
"Based upon our reports from crew workers we met as they came in last night, they believe that they [the missing workers] may have been on board the rig and not able to evacuate. We have not confirmed that yet," he said.


The company is still investigating the incident, but Rose said conversations with evacuated workers when they arrived onshore revealed "really quite heroic stories of how people looked after each other."


The mobile rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, when the explosion occurred Tuesday night. There were no indications it was a terrorist incident, the Coast Guard said.


Officials said 126 people were on board at the time of the explosion. Of the 115 accounted-for workers, 17 injured were evacuated by helicopter from the rig. Another 94 people were taken to shore with no major injuries, and four more were transferred to another vessel, according to the Coast Guard.


It was not known whether the missing workers were able to make it to one of the rig's lifeboats -- fully enclosed, fire-resistant vessels designed to evacuate people quickly.


The Coast Guardsaid calm weather conditions and warm Gulf waters increase the likelihood of survival for the missing workers.

"We're still searching and there's still a probability that those crew members are alive," Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael O'Berry told CNN on Thursday afternoon.


Carrol Moss told CNN-affiliate WWL that her husband had been rescued from the rig. But before she got the call, there were some anxious moments, she said. "The only thing I was thinking is how am I going to tell my kids that their dad is not coming home," Moss told the affiliate. "The worst goes through your mind. We were just blessed we got the call."
As rescue crews continued searching for survivors, a federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of one of the 11 missing workers.

The lawsuit claims negligence by companies connected to the oil rigs that caused the explosion. Transocean and BP are named as defendants.

BP spokesman Tom Mueller declined to comment on the suit, and a spokesman for Transocean did not immediately return a call requesting comment.


The suit does not provide specific details about the blast, but says one man, Shane Roshto of Amite County, Mississippi, "was thrown overboard as a result of the drilling explosion, and his body has not yet been located." His wife, Natalie Roshto, is also named as a plaintiff.


Rose, the Transocean vice president, said Thursday that the company was "deeply saddened" by the incident. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family members and our employees."


Transocean's website describes the company as the "world's largest offshore drilling contractor and the leading provider of drilling management services worldwide," with 140 offshore drilling units.


The rig involved in the explosion -- a mobile unit which moves to different locations in the Gulf of Mexico -- had been drilling for oil in its current location since January, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for Minerals Management Service, the agency that regulates the oil industry in federal waters.


BP spokesman Mueller said dozens of vessels and aircraft were on the way to the scene Thursday afternoon, including equipment to minimize the environmental impact of any spilled oil.


"This is the kind of thing we drill for every year and plan for it, but hope we never have to use it. Today is the day we are going to use it. We are prepared and are moving," he said.


Up to 336,000 gallons could spill into the Gulf, based on the amount of oil the rig pulled out daily, O'Berry told CNN. And up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel could also leak, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Butler said.
As cleanup efforts ramped up, government and company officials said they planned to get to the bottom of what caused the explosion.

"It's in our national interest, obviously, to know exactly what went wrong and to make sure something like this never happens again," Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes told reporters Thursday afternoon.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/22/oil...ex.html?hpt=T1

Last edited by JessE; 05-03-2010 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:25 AM
JessE
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updated 6:56 p.m. ET, Fri., April 23, 2010



NEW ORLEANS - Coast Guard officials on Friday suspended the three-day search for 11 workers missing since an explosion rocked an offshore oil rig, saying they believe the men never made it off the platform that erupted into a giant fireball.



Coast Guard Capt. Peter Troedsson said he spoke with all the workers' families about the decision to suspend the search before announcing it to the media.


"I'm a father and husband, and I have done this a few times before. It's never easy. Your heart goes out to these people," Troedsson said.



The Coast Guard says it will resume the search if any ships in the area see anything, but the workers' chances of survival had seemed slim well before Friday afternoon's announcement. "The time of reasonable expectation of survivability has passed," Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.


What caused Tuesday's massive blast off the Louisiana coast is unknown. As the search was ending, oil company crews were trying to clean up the environmental mess created by the Deepwater Horizon, which finally sank Thursday. The other 115 crew members made it off the platform, though four were critically hurt.


Federal regulators did not need this week's explosion aboard the state-of-the-art rig to know the offshore drilling industry needed new safety rules: Dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries over the last several years had already convinced them that changes were needed.



The U.S. Minerals and Management Service is developing regulations aimed at preventing human error, which it identified as a factor in many of the more than 1,400 offshore oil drilling accidents between 2001 and 2007.he majority of caused by human error and operational and maintenance problems.

As a result of the findings, the MMS is developing new rules that would require rig operators to develop programs focused on preventing human error, an area that hadn't received as much attention in the past. The agency, which has yet to implement the new rules, also proposed audits once every three years.
'Can't outlaw human error'

Environmentalists say that while new technology touted by oil industry executives continues to improve, people still have to oversee those devices and human error remains a widespread problem.



"You can't outlaw human error," Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser with Defenders of Wildlife, who has been involved in drilling issues for 30 years, said of Tuesday's explosion. "It's one of the sidebar issues now emerging for the Horizon incident — these are common incidents and this was just a bigger one."



Opponents of President Barack Obama's plan for more offshore drilling, particularly off the East Coast, say the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon should be taken as a warning to slow the fervor to "drill, baby drill."



"I would hope it would serve as another wake-up call on this issue that there is no such thing as safe oil drilling," said Sara Wan, a member of the California Coastal Commission, a state regulatory agency. "Once that oil starts leaking in the ocean, that damage is irreversible. You just look at what happened with Exxon-Valdez — they're still feeling the effects of it. There's no real way to clean it up."




Obama showed no sign of budging Friday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president still believes increasing domestic oil production can be done safely, securely and without harming the environment.



"I don't honestly think it opens up a whole new series of questions, because, you know, in all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last," Gibbs said.



On March 31, Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, plus the northern waters of Alaska. He also wants Congress to lift a drilling ban in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Florida beaches.


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday that the Obama administration's drilling plan would assess potential risks and benefits of any offshore site before drilling is pursued. No new lease sales are planned before at least 2012.
An undetermined amount of oil has spilled from the Deepwater Horizon, which is owned by Transocean Ltd. The sheen appeared to cover an area about two miles wide and eight miles long Friday afternoon, said Petty Officer Ashley Butler of the Coast Guard.



BP PLC, which leased the rig and is taking the lead in the cleanup, said it has activated an extensive oil spill response, including using remotely operated vehicles to assess the well and 32 vessels to mop up the spill.




Rear Adm. Landry said no oil appeared to be leaking from a well head at the ocean floor, nor was any leaking at the water's surface. But she said crews were closely monitoring the rig for any more crude that might spill out.



About half a dozen boats were using booms to trap the thin sheen, which extended about seven miles north of the rig site. There was no sign of wildlife being affected; the Louisiana coast is about 50 miles away.



Strong winds were blowing generally from the south as a cold front approached from Texas. The passage of the front late Friday or Saturday was expected to shift winds to the north, which could push the sheen away from the coast. Crews were trying to contain what spilled and prevent any threat to the coast's fragile coastal wetlands — nurseries for fish and shrimp and habitat for birds.

The Marine Spill Response Corp., an energy industry cleanup consortium, brought seven skimmer boats to suck oily water from the surface, four planes that can scatter chemicals to disperse oil, and 500,000 feet — 94.6 miles — of containment boom, a floating barrier with a skirt that drapes down under the water and corrals the oil.



U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called for a congressional investigation of safety practices at offshore oil rigs. Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has led opposition to offshore drilling, said he asked the U.S. Interior Department to investigate and provide a comprehensive report on all U.S. drilling accidents over at least the last decade.



"The tragedy off the coast of Louisiana shows we need to be asking a lot more tough questions of big oil," Nelson said. "I think we need to look back over 10 years or so to see if the record denies the industry's claims about safety and technology."





http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36732329...-environment//

Last edited by JessE; 05-03-2010 at 04:30 AM.
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  #4  
Old 05-03-2010, 03:33 AM
JessE
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NEW ORLEANS, April 24, 2010 New Oil-Rig Safety Rules Eyed Before Blast

Opponents to Drilling Point to More Than 1,400 Documented Offshore Accidents Between 2001-2007

(AP) Federal regulators had already been working on new safety rules for offshore drilling when an oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast this week, the latest and most glaring accident in a string of dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries in the industry over the last several years.


The U.S. Minerals and Management Service documented more than 1,400 offshore oil drilling accidents between 2001 and 2007. It's developing regulations aimed at preventing human error, which it identified as a factor in many of those cases.

What caused Tuesday's massive blast off the Louisiana coast is unknown. On Friday, Coast Guard officials suspended the three-day search for 11 workers missing since an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon, saying they believe the men never made it off the platform that erupted into a giant fireball.



Environmentalists say that while new technology touted by oil industry executives continues to improve, people still have to oversee those devices and human error remains a widespread problem.

"You can't outlaw human error," Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser with Defenders of Wildlife, who has been involved in drilling issues for 30 years, said of Tuesday's explosion. "It's one of the sidebar issues now emerging for the Horizon incident - these are common incidents and this was just a bigger one."

Opponents of President Barack Obama's plan for more offshore drilling say the explosion should be taken as a warning.

"I would hope it would serve as another wake-up call on this issue that there is no such thing as safe oil drilling," said Sara Wan, a member of the California Coastal Commission, a state regulatory agency. "Once that oil starts leaking in the ocean, that damage is irreversible. You just look at what happened with Exxon-Valdez - they're still feeling the effects of it."

Mr. Obama showed no sign of budging Friday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president still believes increasing domestic oil production can be done safely, securely and without harming the environment.

An undetermined amount of oil has spilled from the Deepwater Horizon. The sheen appeared to cover an area about two miles wide and eight miles long Friday afternoon, said Petty Officer Ashley Butler of the Coast Guard.

The decision to call off the search for missing workers was made after the Coast Guard called their families.

"I'm a father and husband, and I have done this a few times before. It's never easy. Your heart goes out to these people," said Coast Guard Capt. Peter Troedsson, who talked to the families.

The Coast Guard says it will resume the search if any ships in the area see anything, but the workers' chances of survival had seemed slim well before Friday afternoon's announcement. "The time of reasonable expectation of survivability has passed," Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.

The 11 missing workers came from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Neither the Coast Guard nor their employers have released their names, though several of their families have come forward.

Scott Bickford, a lawyer for the family of missing worker Shane Roshto, said Roshto's wife, Natalie, had been staying with other workers' relatives at a hotel in suburban New Orleans but returned home to Liberty, Mississippi, on Friday morning.

"Natalie has pretty much accepted the fact that her husband is not coming back," Bickford said.

As the search was ending, oil company crews were trying to clean up the environmental mess created by the Deepwater Horizon, which finally sank Thursday.

The other 115 crew members made it off the platform; several were hurt but only two remained hospitalized Friday. The most seriously injured worker was expected to be released within about 10 days.

The rig was the site of a 2005 fire found to have been caused by human error. An MMS investigation determined that a crane operator on the rig had become distracted while refueling the crane, allowing diesel fuel to overflow. Records show the fire was quickly contained, but caused $60,000 in damage to the crane.

An MMS review published last year found 41 deaths and 302 injuries out of 1,443 oil-rig accidents from 2001 to 2007. An analysis of the accidents found a lack of communication between the operator and contractors, a lack of written procedures, a failure to enforce existing procedures and other problems.

"It appears that equipment failure is rarely the primary cause of the incident or accident," the report said.

As a result of the findings, the MMS is developing new rules that would require rig operators to develop programs focused on preventing human error, an area that received relatively little attention in the past. The agency, which has yet to implement the new rules and is currently reviewing public comment on the proposal, also suggested audits once every three years on programs to prevent human error.

BP PLC, which leased the Deepwater Horizon, opposes what it says are "extensive prescriptive regulations."

"We believe industry's current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs implemented ... have been and continue to be very successful," said Richard Morrison, a vice president with BP America Inc. in a September letter opposing the proposed rules.

Rear Adm. Landry said no oil appeared to be leaking from a well head at the ocean floor, nor was any leaking at the water's surface. But she said crews were closely monitoring the rig for any more crude that might spill out.

BP, which is taking the lead in the cleanup, said it has activated an extensive oil spill response, including using remotely operated vehicles to assess the well and 32 vessels to mop up the spill. The Marine Spill Response Corp., an energy industry cleanup consortium, also brought equipment.

About half a dozen boats were using booms to trap the thin sheen, which extended about seven miles north of the rig site. There was no sign of wildlife being affected; the Louisiana coast is about 50 miles away.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/...n6428248.shtml
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:36 AM
JessE
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April 25, 2010

(CNN) -- Efforts were under way Sunday to contain and stop oil leaking from a well after a rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said.


Officials found oil was leaking Saturday from the well. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was drilling when it exploded Tuesday night, the Coast Guard said. Rescuers on Friday suspended the search for 11 people missing after the blast and subsequent sinking of the rig.


Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Saturday that fresh oil was leaking from two places at the well, which is about 5,000 feet deep, at the preliminary estimate of about 1,000 barrels or 42,000 gallons a day.
Poor weather conditions offshore hampered cleanup efforts on Saturday. Authorities have approved a plan to use submersible remote-operated vehicles in an effort to activate a "blowout preventer" on the sea floor, Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry said in a statement Sunday.


A blowout preventer is a large valve at the top of a well. Activating it will stop the flow of oil, O'Berry said.


In addition, BP, which was leasing the rig, is mobilizing a drilling rig, expected to arrive Monday, to prepare for the drilling of a relief well, O'Berry said. A relief well is drilled to intersect the leaking well and isolate or kill it.


As of Sunday, about 1,143 barrels, or 48,000 gallons, of oily water have been collected, officials said.


"The oil recovery and cleanup operations are expected to resume once adverse weather has passed," O'Berry said. "These efforts are part of the federally approved oil spill contingency plan that is in place to respond to environmental incidents."


Authorities expect the spill to remain 30 miles offshore for the next three days, Landry told reporters Sunday. A 72-hour period is used because of the availability of offshore forecasts.


A thorough investigation is under way, she said.
"We are committed to determining how and why this accident occurred," Landry said.


The remote-operated vehicles began working at about 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) Sunday. The task is expected to take 24 to 36 hours to complete, and the highly complex operation may not be successful, said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP's global exploration and production business.
"The amount of resources being focused on this effort are huge," he said.
More than 30 spill-response vessels, four aircraft, thousands of gallons of dispersants and a large amount of skimming resources have been deployed to help contain the spill, BP said Saturday.


The Deepwater Horizon, a mobile unit that moved to different locations in the Gulf of Mexico, was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, when the explosion happened Tuesday night. The rig had been drilling for oil in its current location since January, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Minerals Management Service.


The explosion happened "in the process of turning the well from an exploration well into a production well," BP spokesman Bill Salvin said.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/25/oil...ion/index.html
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:40 AM
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April 26, 2010


(CNNMoney.com) -- Oil from a leaking well beneath the sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico continued to pour into the water Tuesday, according to the Coast Guard.
The slick is located about 36 miles from the Louisiana coast. An estimated 42,000 gallons of oil a day continues to leak from the open well.


On Tuesday, the Coast Guard said the spill, measured from end to end, stretched as wide as 42 miles by 80 miles, although oil isn't necessarily covering that entire area.


Most of the slick is a thin sheen on the water's surface. About 3% of it is a heavy, pudding-like crude oil.


On Monday the spill ranged over an area roughly 42 by 33 miles. The Coast Guard said the spill wasn't necessarily getting larger in size, but rather changing in shape due wind, tides and other factors.
The ongoing leak might be offset by response vessels that are corralling the thick crude oil with containment booms and skimming some of oil off the surface.



The spill has the potential to be a major disaster if left unchecked, although at its current flow rate would take over 260 days to rival the Exxon Valdez disaster, which discharged some 11 million gallons into Alaska's Price William Sound.


Still, the Coast Guard said it is preparing for the worst.
"We're working hard to make sure we don't have a very serious spill," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said at a press conference Monday afternoon. "We're not abandoning this response posture until this well is completely secured."


Offshore drilling: Impact on Americans


The Coast Guard, BP, and the rig's owner Transocean (RIG), have deployed nearly 50 vessels to help contain and clean the slick.
Marine life has been spotted in the area. Over the weekend a plane from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sighted five small whales nearby. Crews working to contain the spill were alerted to their presence.



Efforts are also underway near the shoreline to deal with the spill should it reach land, including positioning boom material around sensitive ecological areas.



Five staging areas have been set up on land, stretching from Venice, La. to Pensacola, Fla.



Landry said it appears the slick will remain at sea for at least the next three days. That could change if the wind shifts.
The oil, if it stays at sea, will eventually evaporate, breakdown and sink, or get cleaned up.



But analysts have said the spill could have political fallout, especially if it reaches shore.


Several lawmakers and interest groups have led a charge over the last several years to open up more parts of the U.S. coast for oil drilling, efforts that are generally supported by the public.


That support could erode if crude oil starts washing up on the Louisiana or Mississippi coasts.


The well is expected to continue leaking until it is sealed. The leak appears to be coming from a pipe that ran from the well head to the drilling rig, which is now laying upside down in 5,000 feet of water not far from the well head.


It has not been decided if the rig will be salvaged or remain where it is, a Transocean official said Monday.



To seal the leak, three approaches are being tried.



BP is now using a set of remote controlled submarines in an attempt to activate the well's "blow out preventer" -- a steel device the size of a small house that sits atop the well and is intended to choke off the flow of oil in the event of a disaster.


It's not clear why that device didn't not originally act to cap the well, or if it will be of any use going forward.



BP is also bringing in another drilling rig which could seal the well, but that effort will take months, according to a BP spokesman.


In the meantime, the company is also trying a novel approach to capture the oil -- using a dome right above the well head. The dome resembles an inverted funnel, with a pipe leading up to ships waiting at the surface to capture the oil. That tactic has never been tried in water this deep.
A BP spokesman said the dome might be ready in a few weeks.


The blast last week, which is still under investigation, resulted in 11 workers going missing. The search for them was suspended last Friday.
115 other people made it off the rig after it exploded, most of them safely. One person remains in the hospital.
http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/26/news..._rig/index.htm
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:44 AM
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Feds may set Gulf oil slick ablaze

A satellite shot, taken Monday, of the oil slick off the coast of Louisiana. April 27, 2010: 5:34 PM ET


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Coast Guard officials are considering setting the Gulf of Mexico oil slick on fire as it moved Tuesday to within 20 miles of sensitive ecological areas in the Mississippi River Delta.

Officials say it could become one of worst spills in U.S. history.




Oil is still leaking at a rate of about 42,000 gallons a day from the well, located some 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana beneath a drill rig that exploded and sank last week. Eleven workers are still missing following the incident, and are presumed dead.


BP, the well's owner, is racing to shut off the well using eight remote controlled submarines, but has had no luck as of yet.


"If we don't secure the well, this could be one of the most serious oil spills in U.S. history," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, head of a joint response task force, said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Twenty miles is the closest the slick has come to land so far.



Officials said oil slicks are sometimes set on fire, especially when they are near sensitive marsh areas where heavy equipment used to clean the oil may cause more harm than good.


If the slick is set on fire, it would be a controlled burn using fire-proof booms, and only done during the day, said Landry. It could begin as early as Wednesday.


The spill, measured from end to end, stretched as wide as 42 miles by 80 miles, although oil isn't necessarily covering that entire area.


Most of the slick is a thin sheen on the water's surface, ranging in thickness from a couple of molecules to the equivalent of a layer of paint. About 3% of it is a heavy, pudding-like crude oil.


At its current flow rate would take over 260 days to rival the Exxon Valdez disaster, which discharged some 11 million gallons into Alaska's Price William Sound. Still, even if it never compares to the Exxon Valdes spill's size, if it makes landfall it'll have serious ecological repercussions.


The Coast Guard, BP, and the rig's owner Transocean (RIG), have deployed nearly 50 vessels to help contain and clean the slick.


Marine life has been spotted in the area. Over the weekend a plane from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sighted five small whales nearby. Crews working to contain the spill were alerted to their presence.



Efforts are also underway near the shoreline to deal with the spill should it reach land, including positioning boom material around sensitive ecological areas.



Five staging areas have been set up on land, stretching from Venice, La. to Pensacola, Fla.



Landry said it appears the slick should remain at sea for at least the next three days, although weather reports for the latter part of that period suggest the wind could shift and blow the slick toward land.



The oil, if it stays at sea, will eventually evaporate, breakdown and sink, or get cleaned up.



But analysts have said the spill could have political fallout, especially if it reaches shore.


Several lawmakers and interest groups have led a charge over the last several years to open up more parts of the U.S. coast for oil drilling, efforts that are generally supported by the public.
That support could erode if crude oil starts washing up on the Louisiana or Mississippi coasts.


0:00 /0:51Obama's offshore drilling campaign
The well is expected to continue leaking until it is sealed. The leak appears to be coming from a pipe that ran from the well head to the drilling rig, which is now laying upside down in 5,000 feet of water not far from the well head.


It has not been decided if the rig will be salvaged or remain where it is, a Transocean official said Monday.



To seal the leak, three approaches are being tried.



BP is now using a set of remote controlled submarines in an attempt to activate the well's "blow out preventer" -- a steel device the size of a small house that sits atop the well and is intended to choke off the flow of oil in the event of a disaster.


It's not clear why that device didn't not originally act to cap the well, or if it will be of any use going forward.



BP (BP) is also bringing in another drilling rig which could seal the well, but that effort will take months, according to a BP spokesman.


In the meantime, the company is also trying a novel approach to capture the oil -- using a dome right above the well head. The dome resembles an inverted funnel, with a pipe leading up to ships waiting at the surface to capture the oil. That tactic has never been tried in water this deep.
A BP spokesman said the dome should be ready in two to four weeks.
The blast last week, which is still under investigation, resulted in 11 workers going missing. The search for them was suspended last Friday.
115 other people made it off the rig after it exploded, most of them safely. One person remains in the hospital.



http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/27/news.../oil_rig_gulf/
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:45 AM
JessE
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By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and LESLIE KAUFMAN

Published: April 28, 2010

NEW ORLEANS — Government officials said late Wednesday night that oil might be leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate five times that suggested by initial estimates.

In a hastily called news conference, Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard said a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had concluded that oil is leaking at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as had been estimated. While emphasizing that the estimates are rough given that the leak is at 5,000 feet below the surface, Admiral Landry said the new estimate came from observations made in flights over the slick, studying the trajectory of the spill and other variables.



An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20 left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.



Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production for BP, said a new leak had been discovered as well. Officials had previously found two leaks in the riser, the 5,000-foot-long pipe that connected the rig to the wellhead and is now detached and snaking along the sea floor. One leak was at the end of the riser and the other at a kink closer to its source, the wellhead.

But Mr. Suttles said a third leak had been discovered Wednesday afternoon even closer to the source. “I’m very, very confident this leak is new,” he said. He also said the discovery of the new leak had not led them to believe that the total flow from the well was different than it was before the leak was found.



The new, far larger estimate of the leakage rate, he said, was within a range of estimates given the inexact science of determining the rate of a leak so far below the ocean’s surface.



“The leaks on the sea floor are being visually gauged from the video feed” from the remote vehicles that have been surveying the riser, said Doug Helton, a fisheries biologist who coordinates oil spill responses for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an e-mail message Wednesday night. “That takes a practiced eye. Like being able to look at a garden hose and judge how many gallons a minute are being discharged. The surface approach is to measure the area of the slick, the percent cover, and then estimate the thickness based on some rough color codes.”
Admiral Landry said President Obama had been notified. She also opened up the possibility that if the government determines that BP, which is responsible for the cleanup, cannot handle the spill with the resources available in the private sector, that Defense Department could become involved to contribute technology.



Wind patterns may push the spill into the coast of Louisiana as soon as Friday night, officials said, prompting consideration of more urgent measures to protect coastal wildlife. Among them were using cannons to scare off birds and employing local shrimpers’ boats as makeshift oil skimmers in the shallows.



Part of the oil slick was only 16 miles offshore and closing in on the Mississippi River Delta, the marshlands at the southeastern tip of Louisiana where the river empties into the ocean. Already 100,000 feet of protective booms have been laid down to protect the shoreline, with 500,000 feet more standing by, said Charlie Henry, an oil spill expert for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at an earlier news conference on Wednesday.



On Wednesday evening, cleanup crews began conducting what is called an in-situ burn, a process that consists of corralling concentrated parts of the spill in a 500-foot-long fireproof boom, moving it to another location and burning it. It has been tested effectively on other spills, but weather and ecological concerns can complicate the procedure.
Such burning also works only when oil is corralled to a certain thickness. Burns may not be effective for most of this spill, of which 97 percent is estimated to be an oil-water mixture.



A burn scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday was delayed. At 4:45 p.m., the first small portion of the spill was ignited. Officials determined it to be successful.

Walter Chapman, director of the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute at Rice University, said a 50 percent burn-off for oil within the booms would be considered a success. Admiral Landry called the burn “one tool in a tool kit” to tackle the spill. Other tactics include: using remote-controlled vehicles to shut off the well at its source on the sea floor, an operation that has so far been unsuccessful; dropping domes over the leaks at the sea floor and routing the oil to the surface to be collected, an operation untested at such depths that would take at least two to four more weeks; and drilling relief wells to stop up the gushing cavity with concrete, mud or other heavy liquid, a solution that is months away.

The array of strategies underscores the unusual nature of the leak. Pipelines have ruptured and tankers have leaked, but a well 5,000 feet below the water’s surface poses new challenges, officials said.
Reached in southern Louisiana on Wednesday, where he was visiting the response team’s command center, Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, said he did not yet know what went wrong with the oil rig. BP, which was leasing the rig from Transocean, is responsible for the cleanup under federal law.



Until Wednesday night, the well had been estimated to be leaking 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, each day.



The response team has tried in vain to engage a device called a blowout preventer, a stack of hydraulically activated valves at the top of the well that is designed to seal off the well in the event of a sudden pressure release — a possible cause for the explosion on the rig.
Mr. Hayward said the blowout preventer was tested 10 days ago and worked. He said a valve must be partly closed, otherwise the spillage would be worse.



There are a number of things that can go wrong with a blowout preventer, said Greg McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, which provides training for the industry.
The pressure of the oil coming from below might be so great that the valves cannot make an adequate seal. Or in the case of a shear ram, which is designed to cut through the drill pipe itself and seal it off, it might have encountered a tool joint, the thicker, threaded area where two lengths of drilling pipe are joined.



Still, Mr. McCormack said, “something is working there because you wouldn’t have such a relatively small flow of oil.” If the blowout preventer were completely inoperable, he said, the flow would be “orders of magnitude” greater.



Mr. Hayward, of BP, said the crude spilling from the well was very light, the color and texture of “iced tea” and implied that it would cause less environmental damage than heavier crude, like the type that spilled from the Exxon Valdez into Prince William Sound in 1989. He said in most places it was no more than a micron thick and in the thickest areas was one-tenth of a millimeter, or the width of a hair.



Mr. Hayward declined to answer questions about any potential political fallout and said BP “will be judged primarily on the response.”



As the investigation into the cause continued, officials, scientists and those who make their living on the Gulf Coast were focused on the impending prospect of the oil’s landfall.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/us/29spill.html
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:51 AM
JessE
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April 29, 2010


(CNN) -- A 120-mile oil slick advanced to within a few miles of the mouth of the Mississippi River on Thursday as authorities scrambled to keep the spill from damaging wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico.


The slick was about three miles off the Louisiana coast on Thursday night, according to Coast Guard spokesman Shawn Eggert.


Oil company BP's ruptured well is at the heart of the spill. State and federal agencies have strung miles of floating booms -- inflatable or foam barriers -- around the leading edge of the shoreline in an effort to contain the spill. Authorities said the spill could begin affecting some areas of the coast overnight.


Efforts to shut down the well have failed so far, and more complicated plans may take weeks. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Thursday declared a state of emergency ahead of the oil slick's arrival, warning that it covered as much as 600 square miles of water.


President Obama is sending Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to Louisiana on Friday to inspect the effort to contain the oil slick, his administration announced Thursday.


Ten wildlife refuges in Mississippi and Louisiana are in the oil's likely path, with the Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area at the tip of the Mississippi River likely to be the first affected, Jindal announced.



Wildlife conservation groups said Thursday the oil could be a disaster for coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Nearly 175,000 feet (about 33 miles) of floating booms have been deployed, with about a half-million more feet being readied, federal officials said.


Officials from a handful of federal agencies have recovered more than 18,000 barrels of an oil-water mix. They have deployed nearly 100,000 gallons of dispersant, which breaks up oil, as of Thursday evening, according to the Department of Homeland Security.


Roughly 1,200 personnel are responding to the oil spill, DHS said.


The latest forecast from NOAA showed the leading edges of the slick reaching the Mississippi and Alabama coasts over the weekend and stretching as far east as Pensacola, Florida, by Monday.


The Louisiana coastline is mostly marsh, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries is worried that the lowlands will catch and hold oil when the water washes into them, spokesman Bo Boehringer said. The department is advising response teams on where to place the booms to protect wildlife. That includes brown pelicans, Louisiana's state bird, and migratory birds.



"For birds, the timing could not be worse; they are breeding, nesting and especially vulnerable in many of the places where the oil could come ashore," said Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative.



"The efforts to stop the oil before it reaches shore are heroic, but may not be enough. We have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst, including a true catastrophe for birds," Driscoll said.


The oil well was ripped open by an April 20 explosion that sunk the drill rig Deepwater Horizon, leading to the presumed deaths of 11 missing men.


Wednesday night, the Coast Guard and NOAA raised their estimate of the amount of oil the damaged well was pouring into the Gulf to 210,000 gallons a day, or about 5,000 barrels.


An effort to burn off part of the oil slick on Wednesday destroyed about 100 barrels, said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP. But the technique "clearly worked," and larger burns are planned when weather conditions make them possible.


"We believe we can now scale that up and burn between 500 and 1,000 barrels at a time," Suttles said.


The well is now leaking from three points, BP said. Under the 1990 oil pollution act, passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the company is required to foot the bill for the cleanup.


In Washington, Obama pledged a robust response and said the military may be called on to assist. Obama told reporters he has been getting regular briefings from top officials in his administration. He said a thorough investigation of the spill is planned.



"While BP is ultimately responsible for funding the cost of response and cleanup operations, my administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal -- including, potentially, the Department of Defense -- to address the incident," Obama said.


Interior Secretary Salazar, who met Thursday with BP officials, said a federal investigation into the rig explosion is under way.


"Our Joint Investigation with the Department of Homeland Security will have every tool it needs -- including subpoena power -- to get to the bottom of what went wrong," he said in a statement Thursday.


Napolitano declared the spill a crisis of "national significance" on Thursday. That's a move that Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said allows the government to pour resources from across the country into the effort.
"If BP does not request these resources, I can and I will," Landry told reporters in New Orleans.




Drilling a relief well -- a second well drilled up to a mile or two away that would enter the leaking well at an angle to help plug it -- will take months, NOAA said.


BP is attempting to deploy collection domes over the leak points to collect oil as it escapes, but getting that system in place could take weeks as well, Suttles said.

BP Group's CEO, Tony Hayward, has cast blame on rig operator Transocean Ltd. for the disaster. Hayward told CNN that the well's blowout preventer, which he called the "ultimate fail-safe mechanism," has failed to shut down the well as designed. Salazar's office said Thursday that BP is still trying to activate the well's blowout preventer.


Salazar has ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, including inspections of blowout preventers, he said in Thursday's statement. The inspections, which began Monday, should be complete within seven days, the statement said.

There has been no response from Transocean to BP's comments. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, and at least one of the victims' families has filed a lawsuit against BP and Transocean, accusing BP specifically of negligence.



http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/29/lou...rig/index.html
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:53 AM
JessE
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April 30, 2010

Investigators delving into the possible cause of the massive gulf oil spill are focusing on the role of Houston-based Halliburton Co., the giant energy services company, which was responsible for cementing the drill into place below the water. The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

In a letter to to Halliburton Chief Executive David J. Lesar on Friday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called on Halliburton officials to provide all documents relating to "the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring, and inspection of the cementing work" by May 7.


In a statement Friday, Halliburton said "it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues." The company had four employees stationed on the rig at the time of the accident, all of whom were rescued by the Coast Guard. "Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design," it said. "The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications. In accordance with accepted industry practice ... tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed."


More than two dozen class action lawsuits have been filed after the explosion against BP PLC, the British company that leased the Deepwater Horizon rig, against the rig's owner, Transocean Ltd. and against Halliburton. BP is "taking full responsibility" for the spill and will pay for legitimate claims by affected parties, company spokeswoman Sheila Williams said.



Cement is used at two stages of the deep-water drilling process. It is used to fill gaps between the well pipe and the hole drilled into the seabed so as to prevent any seepage of oil and gas. And it is used to temporarily plug an exploration hole before production begins. At the time of the accident, the Halliburton statement said, "well operations had not yet reached the point requiring the placement of the final cement plug which would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well."


Experts say cementing is a basic part of drilling, exploration and production of oil on the sea floor. Drill ships or rigs plant large pipes called "conductors" on the sea floor, and casings, or nested pipes, are placed inside of them. The pipes are fixed in place by cement, some hanging inside other pipes, and a drill string is run down a casing, and extended to the sea floor to bore holes.



Mud works its way back up the pipes and the “riser,” a pipe that connects the drill site to the ship or rig above. Or oil is brought up. Cement fixes the operations in place. Cement may also be used to plug a well, pumped down the string until it comes up on the sides, and stops the hole.

Cementing a deep-water drilling operation is a process fraught with danger. A 2007 study by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found that cementing was the single most important factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period -- more than equipment malfunction. Halliburton has been accused of a poor cement job in the case of a major blowout in the Timor Sea off Australia last August. An investigation is underway.


According to experts cited in Friday's Wall St. Journal, the timing of last week's cement job in relation to the explosion -- only 20 hours beforehand, and the history of cement problems in other blowouts "point to it as a possible culprit." Robert MacKenzie, managing director of energy and natural resources at FBR Capital Markets and a former cementing engineer, told the Journal, "The initial likely cause of gas coming to the surface had something to do with the cement."


In its statement, the company said, "Halliburton originated oilfield cementing and leads the world in effective, efficient delivery of zonal isolation and engineering for the life of the well, conducting thousands of successful well cementing jobs each year."


The company, which was once headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been in the media spotlight before -- under under fire in recent years for its operations as a private contractor in Iraq.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gree...onnection.html

Last edited by JessE; 05-30-2010 at 05:49 AM.
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