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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

New Oil Spill Leak—Oil Industry and Feds Too Cozy


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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
07 May 2010, 10:25 AM
Agency let BP take major drilling risk without backup plan
Photo: MMS

As British Petroleum tries desperately to cap the oil gushing from its exploded drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico, information continues to leak out about the too-cozy relationship BP and the oil industry have with federal oversight agencies—especially the Minerals Management Service.

MMS regulates, and issues permits for, offshore oil drilling. It is supposed to make sure oil companies are prepared to handle spills, but as The Associated Press is reporting, a rule change two years ago by MMS let BP avoid filing a plan dealing with the kind of blowout/spill pouring into Gulf waters at a daily rate of 200,000+ gallons.

Former Earthjustice attorney Robert Wiygul, now an environmental lawyer in Mississippi, told AP:

The lack of a blowout scenario "is kind of an outrageous omission, because you're drilling in extremely deep waters, where by definition you're looking for very large reservoirs to justify the cost.

"If the MMS was allowing companies to drill in this ultra-deep situation without a blowout scenario, then it seems clear they weren't doing the job they were tasked with," he said.

If that's unsettling, consider that MMS is allowing Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer—based on assurances that a major spill there is unlikely. The agency hardly considered the havoc such a spill would wreak on the area's wildlife and human communities. This is why Earthjustice was in court yesterday, trying to stop Shell on behalf of Native Alaskans who depend on that ocean's bounty.

For a full look at the Arctic drilling//MMS issue, check out this story in Mother Jones.

Why can't they build an expansion bolt the correct size of the broken pipe and insert it into the pipe and tighten it to seal the oil leak... similar to a lead expansion bolt used in anchoring a steel plate to concrete... Oh yeah, they are more concerned about tapping the source to capture and sell the oil rather then stopping the leak before it does even more environmental damage.

They could maneuver a floating rig over the source and attach the expansion bolt to a drill pipe and lower it into the hole from the rig and use submersible subs to guide it into the hole, lower it to a depth into the pipe casting or into the rock at what ever level the rock is at and then turn the bolt part to draw in the threaded expansion wedge up into the expansion cast to expand it tight to stop the flow and secure the leak... (similar to a concrete lead expansion bolt) and, if a shear pin is placed at a height in the tuning pipe above the sea floor, then when the expansion bolt tightened to the point it was securely wedged as a stopper in the hole, the pin could be pulled or torque till it sheared which would separate the turning or drilling pipe so as to be able to pull up the pipe that was used to lower the expansion plug. Just an idea that involves sealing the leak with no thought of tapping the well for financial gain but rather with the goal of sealing the leak.

You don't need to make an expansion bolt. They are called epansion plugs and they are readily available in any size for almost any application. Just google "expansion pipe plug". I can't imagine a project engineer not being aware of the availability of these pipe plugs. They have been in use for years.

A much greater effort must be done to burn as much of the spilled oil in the gulf as possible. The impact on the gulf must be weighed against the damage to the overall environment. Some have suggested using napalm (gelled gasoline) to burn the larger oil slicks before the oil is further broken up and diluted by the waves.

That twitter name is oilstopnow. sorry!!!!!

BP Oil Spill Containment Plan Flawed
Of course ice formed in the dome. The
flow was restricted. The outlet is too
small. They need a large diameter pipe.
It should not be sealed at the bottom.
That way the water can settle out and
work can continue beneath the opening.
The Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) can
maintain its position until it can be
anchored. The right design is more like
a chimney. It can withstand changes in
pressure. 12 inch pipe is readily available.
That is a good starting point. I've
emailed them. Please if you are with the
press or government make BP realize
this. My blog is:
http://helpgulfofmexiconow.blogspot.com/
and website is:
http://sites.google.com/site/helpgulfofmexiconow/
stopoilnow at twitter

BP Oil Spill Containment Plan Flawed
Of course ice formed in the dome. The
flow was restricted. The outlet is too
small. They need a large diameter pipe.
It should not be sealed at the bottom.
That way the water can settle out and
work can continue beneath the opening.
The Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) can
maintain its position until it can be
anchored. The right design is more like
a chimney. It can withstand changes in
pressure. 12 inch pipe is readily available.
That is a good starting point. I've
emailed them. Please if you are with the
press or government make BP realize
this. My blog is:
http://helpgulfofmexiconow.blogspot.com/
and website is:
http://sites.google.com/site/helpgulfofmexiconow/
stopoilnow at twitter

Here's a great quote from Business Week about the corrupt MMS:

Critics of MMS have repeatedly called it a captive of the companies it regulates. Last September the Interior Dept. shut down an oil royalty program run by the agency after audits found that MMS was undercollecting millions of dollars worth of royalties. The Interior Dept. inspector general's office found that several MMS officials had "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives. --Business Week

And here's an article that says BP was drilling too deeper than admitted: http://bpdrillinglimit.yolasite.com

Please explain the comment about "no blowout scenario".

The evidence, including photos taken by ROVs, is that a double-valve preventer failed for some still-unknown reason.

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