Reports show more problems with fail-safe devices on board the Deepwater Horizon (more after the jump).
BP CEO Tony Hayward appears to have gotten his life back — for real this time — and even spent some quality time with his son on Father’s Day.
Jimmy Buffet has announced a beachside concert to promote tourism. It just happens to coincide with the opening of his Margaritaville Hotel.
Federal inspectors did not properly assess the Deepwater’s Horizon’s last line of defense, The New York Times reports.
Its very name — the blind shear ram — suggested its blunt purpose. When all else failed, if the crew of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig lost control of a well, if a dreaded blowout came, the blind shear ram’s two tough blades were poised to slice through the drill pipe, seal the well and save the day. Everything else could go wrong, just so long as “the pinchers” went right. All it took was one mighty stroke.
But there were weaknesses, documents show.
It also shows that the Obama administration failed to grapple with either the well-known weaknesses of blowout preventers or the sufficiency of the nation’s drilling regulations even as it made plans this spring to expand offshore oil exploration.
“What happened to all the stakeholders — Congress, environmental groups, industry, the government — all stakeholders involved were lulled into a sense of what has turned out to be false security,” David J. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, said in an interview.
As for the last-last line of defense, the relief well…
The teams drilling the relief wells designed to stop the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico have a daunting task – hit a target roughly the size of a salad plate about three miles below the ocean surface.
If the workers aboard Transocean Ltd.’s Development Driller II or its sister rig DDIII miss or move too slowly, oil will keep pouring into the sea.
No one on the rig has done this before because these deep sea interventions are so rare.
Can offshore drilling make us energy independent?
But here’s the catch: There is a chance that the MMS has miscalculated the amount of offshore oil, because its estimates are based on 30- to 40-year-old data. For example, MMS spokesperson Nicholas Pardi says a 1987 survey of the Gulf of Mexico indicated there was potentially nine billion barrels of oil there, but when the area was resurveyed nine years later (using newer technologies), the number jumped to potential 45 billion barrels.
In other words, says Ian Nathan, a senior research analyst with New York City–based Energy Intelligence Group (a publisher of data and information on the global energy industry), it is possible that areas currently off-limits to drilling might actually contain a lot more—or less, for that matter—petroleum than previously believed.
So why hasn’t the info been updated? Gathering and analyzing this data is expensive: According to Lars Johan Frigstad, CEO of Oslo, Norway–based Scan Geophysical ASA, a seismic survey in the North Atlantic can cost $6 million or more a month and take one to four months or longer to gather (depending on the size of the area being surveyed).
And there’s no incentive for oil companies—or the feds—to cough up the cash unless Congress lifts the ban, according to Harold Syms, chief of the MMS’s Resource Evaluation Division. If the moratorium was lifted, the MMS would “evaluate the tracts…to be sure the public gets fair market value” for oil leases. He says the agency would issue a permit to an outside firm to do seismic surveys of designated areas, in return for giving all the resulting data to the MMS. The surveyors could also sell the information to private companies interested in bidding on the leases.
Not so fast: A federal panel is not likely to lift the ban on deepwater drilling any time soon.
Keep it clean: Stations help beach-goers wash off oil and tar balls.
Counting the cost: So far, it’s at least $2 billion, according to BP.