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BP has almost stopped the flow of oil, will finish a permanent relief well in a couple months

With over 5,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day after the oil well leak on April 20, eight senators are contemplating pressing criminal and civil charges against BP. In the mean time, BP is scrambling to find solutions to what could be considered one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.

BP Plc., Transocean Ltd., and Halliburton Co. attended two separate hearings in Washington D.C. on May 11 and another on May 12. Congress questioned the events that led to the leak and what actions BP is taking to repair the well that killed 11 people, put many fisherman out of work, and caused the spread of oil to surrounding waters threatening wildlife (which prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to increase the ban of fishing area in the Gulf from seven percent to 19 percent). 

"We've seen the most catastrophic possibilities and it seems to me like they're flailing around going from one thing to another not really knowing what in fact is necessary to stop this, short of that relief well that will just take way too long," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

BP first tried to funnel the oil to ships using a 98-tonne "top hat" dome on the seabed floor, and due to large hydrate volumes, the dome clogged. More recently, a smaller, one mile long funnel was set in its place was will collect some of the oil approximately 5,000 feet below the surface. A heavy mud mixture will be pumped into the well's blowout preventer in preparation for cement to seal the well permanently. In addition, as Menendez stated above, BP plans to drill a relief well that could take as long as 80 days to construct. 

BP's latest efforts include the riser insertion tube tool (RITT) containment system, and according to BP's official website, it was "put into place in the end of the leaking riser" and "is operational." This tool is collecting 2,000 barrels a day, and produced oil is being stored in ships above surface. The senators question BP's "proven technology and equipment" during this time.

"While I always hope for the best, this is looking like really out-of-control bad," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

While BP's new developments will help clear some of the damage, new problems arise with problems concerning where the oil will travel to next. Considering BP's history with oil-related accidents, these eight senators will surely ride the company's coattails through the rest of this investigation and certainly through a criminal trial.

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What did the Obama and the senators do?
By pjkenned on 5/19/2010 8:37:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'm fairly certain the series of events was:
Rig blows up -> Coast guard puts out fire -> BP Runs around trying to figure out how to put out leak after the rig sinks -> Obama says BP is bad -> Senators call hearings (i.e. distract BP decision makers that could be approving resources to fix the problem) -> BP tries a few things -> BP Fixes -> Senators/ Obama still complain (despite the fact that their regulation was lax enough to say the rig was OK)

Seems like a more productive way to do this would have been for the administration to send the Army Corps of Engineers to fix then send BP the bill. Hence, helping to fix, rather than trying to point blame away from themselves for lax regulation.

Total bummer that this happened, but at least in the last few days BP has made significant progress towards the plug/ siphon (note they are doing both, not just taking 2,000 barrels a day from the flow).

RE: What did the Obama and the senators do?
By Duwelon on 5/19/2010 9:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
Why would obama send in the corpses of army engineers!?!!?!

By eldakka on 5/19/2010 11:37:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure you could plug the well with enough corpses.

RE: What did the Obama and the senators do?
By alanore on 5/20/2010 5:14:30 AM , Rating: 2
Stopping an oil leak on a wellhead underwater is no trivial mater. Oil companies are in the best position to try and stop the leak, the only real thing the military has that could help is with man power or nukes. The USSR apparently stop 5 oil leaks by nuking them.

Obama did assemble an A-Team of scientists to come up with solutions to come up with solutions.

Besides there not much that politicians can do other than run around with red tape.

By frobizzle on 5/20/2010 8:30:30 AM , Rating: 3
Besides there not much that politicians can do other than run around with red tape.

Why don't we stuff the well up with politicians? At least they would finally be serving a purpose!

By The0ne on 5/20/2010 12:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
He has the right thought, considering this is now a natural disaster and US resources are committed to help resolve the problem. The resolution just doesn't warrant the use the the military because they do lack the tools/experience to get the job done.

No reason to bash the fellow, he's just asking and wondering why not the military, why not a private company, why not...etc.

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