BP Turns to Giant Shears in Latest Attempt to Stem Oil SpillJun 3, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
Following a setback yesterday, BP has resumed its latest attempt to contain the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Meanwhile, the oil giant’s CEO has made some surprising admissions, telling a London newspaper that his company was not adequately prepared for the disaster.
BP’s latest attempt to contain the spill, dubbed by some as a “cut and cap” procedure, hit a snag yesterday when a robotic diamond-edged saw became stuck in a leaking, 20-inch pipe on the sea floor. It took about 12 hours for engineers to free the saw from the pipe.
When the setback occurred, the saw was making the second of two cuts the procedure requires. Once the second cut is made, the plan is to lower a containment dome to capture most – but not all – of the oil flow and send it up to a tanker on the surface. The pipe needs to be cut to allow a snug fit for the dome.
According to MSNBC, the saw has been hauled back up to a ship in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP is now planning to use giant shears to finish cutting the pipe. The shears have already been used to slice off another part of the riser.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, when the oil rig exploded, killing 11 crew. Since then, the gushing well spewing as much as 800,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico.
So far, all of BP’s attempts to stop the leaking have failed. There is no guarantee this latest try will work either, and even if it does, it is not expected to contain all of the oil spewing into the Gulf. There is even a chance it could worsen the situation, and increase the flow by as much as 20 percent.
The oil leak won’t be permanently stopped until BP completes one of two relief wells it is drilling nearby. The earliest that will occur is mid-August.
BP’s inability to handle the disaster has provoked a great deal of anger. Yesterday, the company’s CEO, Tony Hayward, told the Financial Times it was “entirely fair” to criticize BP for not being better equipped for the spill.
“What is certainly true is that we did not have the tools we would like to have at our disposal,” said Hayward.
Hayward went on to say that BP was looking for new ways to manage “low-probability, high-impact” risks such as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident.
Despite conceding that his company wasn’t prepared to deal with the leak, Hayward insisted it has bee “very successful” in keeping oil away from the Gulf coast. “Considering how big this has been, very little has got away from us,” he told the Financial Times.
Most people living in Gulf Coast communities will likely have a bit of trouble believing those assertions. Louisiana has already seen 125 miles of coastline fouled by the spill, with thick crude moving into the state’s vital marshes and wetlands. Oil has washed up in Alabama and Mississippi as well, and the slick is said to be only miles from Florida’s Pensacola Beach.