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Government officials are not so sure

Deadline after deadline has passed, and the U.S. government is growing tired of waiting for BP's supposed relief efforts that don't seem to be working. After one failed attempt at a dome and a relief well that could take until August, BP executives are saying they have more options to explore, and that the governments efforts would not produce any different results.

"We won't quit until we get this job done," said Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer. "We're doing everything we can."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said BP has "from day one, frankly, not fulfilled the mission it was supposed to fulfill" and "if we find that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way."

"In terms of not trusting BP, there's nobody--nobody--who is more devastated by what has happened and nobody that wants to shut this off more than we do and learn what happened so this never happens anywhere, to anyone, anywhere in the world again," said Robert Dudley, BP's managing director.

BP's next attempt at plugging the leak will be put to the test on Wednesday, where a thick, viscous fluid that is twice the density of water will be pumped into the core site of the leak. This will hopefully lead to the final stage of sealing the well permanently with cement.

Suttles said that if this attempt fails, BP's other options include placing an even smaller dome over the leak (for the third time), installing a blowout preventer, trying a "junk shot" (where rubber and other substances are used to plug the well), and the final solution being the relief well that could take up to 80 days to complete.

Two Obama administration officials went to Louisiana Monday to evaluate the response to the BP oil spill. In addition, Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will attend a flyover of affected areas as well as meet with BP representatives. Louisiana state and parish leaders, such as St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, demanded that the federal government allow them to "dredge up walls of sand to close the channels between the Gulf and coastal estuaries." 

"Either the Coast Guard has to side with its American citizens and protect its communities, or it has to side with a major world corporation named BP and betray American citizens in that process," said Taffaro.

In addition, Coast Guard Rear Adm. and federal on-scene coordinator Mary Landry said the barrier island project, which is a $350 million blueprint to repair Louisiana's barrier islands,  is still under review. Environmental and officials are reviewing the impact this project may have on "endangered and threatened species."

In response, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser pointed to an oil-covered pelican nesting ground and replied, "Is it affected now?"

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RE: Not sure what people are expecting...
By MozeeToby on 5/24/2010 2:54:55 PM , Rating: 5
Although nothing has been proven yet, there have been many accusations made by people who would have been in a position to make them. Accusations are coming in from the survivors of the original explosion and I can't imagine there won't be some kind of paper trail kept by someone (even just as a CYA if something happens).

Reports are the that safety systems were damaged during a test several weeks earlier and that management knew about this. Backup systems were known to be running on obsolete, uncharged batteries. Standard practice when deploying a temporary cap on the well (the cap that eventually blew and caused the disaster) wasn't followed (only 2 caps rather than 3, with no mudding in between them). No coffer damn was in place above the well head to be lowered if an accident happened (granted, it wasn't standard practice 2 months ago, Shell is currently scrambling to add them to their wells now just in case).

Mistakes were doubtless made, there are simply too many safeguards that are supposed to be in place to prevent this kind of disaster. The question is going to be figuring out what the mistakes were, who made them, and who is ultimately responsible for them.

By AEvangel on 5/24/2010 3:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
Mistakes were doubtless made, there are simply too many safeguards that are supposed to be in place to prevent this kind of disaster. The question is going to be figuring out what the mistakes were, who made them, and who is ultimately responsible for them.

I completely agree with the idea of an investigation to find out who and what failed if anything that resulted in this accident. An if someone is proven at fault then sue the crap out of them, but all this posturing by the Govt is pointless and is only done to keep the ignorant masses happy and feed the 24 hour news cycle.

RE: Not sure what people are expecting...
By geddarkstorm on 5/24/2010 3:29:08 PM , Rating: 1
According to the communications from the rig (you can read some insight on gCaptain forums), they knew they were in trouble for three minutes before they exploded. Kicks from a well are normal, but this one obviously caught them by surprise, both when it happened and the power of it happening. There's probably some human error (because they didn't know what they were up against), but also a lot of nature just beating us upside the head with surprises. The fact this well is so hard to contain also attests that it might be more nature than man. I guess we won't fully know till months from now or whenever investigations are complete.

The BOP did actually engage, it just wasn't able to completely prevent the flow, yet still diminished it down (the fire that destroyed the rig was far, far more than 5000 barrels per day; probably a whole order of magnitude above more). The BOP has a PSI rating of 15,000, so it's interesting it can't stop this well. The robots that went down were trying to hydrolically jack up the BOPs strength to finish closing the well, and that failed too.

I'm hopeful the synthetic mud will work (its what was holding the well at bay the whole time Horizon was there till it was replaced with sea water right before the explosion).

RE: Not sure what people are expecting...
By MozeeToby on 5/24/2010 3:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
According to survivors of the original explosion, the BOP had a hole punched into it from a test a few weeks earlier.

"...during a test, they closed the gasket. But while it was shut tight, a crewman on deck accidentally nudged a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force, and moving 15 feet of drill pipe through the closed blowout preventer. Later, a man monitoring drilling fluid rising to the top made a troubling find."

"He discovered chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid. He thought it was important enough to gather this double handful of chunks of rubber and bring them into the driller shack. I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, 'Oh, it's no big deal.' And I thought, 'How can it be not a big deal? There's chunks of our seal is now missing,'"

By geddarkstorm on 5/24/2010 3:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
That's interesting, if true.

But remember, the BOP isn't acting like a seal. That's not how they work. The BOP actually has rams and cutters that, when engaged, smash down and sever the well pipe, blocking up the well. It's those cutters that have 15k psi strength behind them. The BOP's failure was being unable to completely collapse and block the well pipe, only crimping it to some extent (enough to greatly slow down the flow). If the pressure of the well was greater than the BOP's rams, that would explain the failure. Also, the fact it was a freshly cemented well could also have hindered the BOP's strength.

The seal they are talking about here sounds like some seal that sits around the pipe when its inside the BOP. I'm not sure how the loss or presence of that would affect things, other than (I'm just speculating) it could hold the pipe steady. And, without that seal from the sounds of it, if the pipe ruptured deeper under ground, and a fissure cracked up where it enters the BOP, oil possibly could leak directly past and out the BOP. However, that's not what we see. We see oil actually still coming out of the collapsed riser only, meaning pipe integrity is intact.

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