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BP CEO Tony Hayward  (Source: CBS News, AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  (Source: CBS News, AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

  (Source: Fast Company)
But BP has a new plan

Saturday marked yet another failed attempt to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's top kill procedure used more than 1.2 million gallons of mud to suppress oil into the well 5,000 feet below surface in hopes of sealing the well permanently with cement, but most of the mud ended up escaping out of the damaged riser. 

"This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far," said BP PLC Chief Operating Officer Dough Suttles. "Many of the things we're trying have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at 5,000 feet."

Since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and the oil leak began six weeks ago, BP has tried and failed with several attempts such as robot submarines to close valves on the blowout preventer, large and small-sized domes to contain the leak, a one mile long siphon that only collected 900,000 gallons of oil and now, a failed top kill procedure. According to government figures, between 18 million and 40 million gallons of oil has been spilled into the Gulf. 

Despite these failures, BP already has a new plan in motion. The next step is to use robot submarines to cut the riser where the oil is leaking and try to cap it with a containment valve while using a new pipe to siphon oil up to containment ships on the surface. 

Suttles says that "cutting off the damaged riser isn't expected to cause the flow rate of leaking oil to increase significantly," though experts have mentioned that the bend in the riser was likely restricting the flow of oil and cutting it and adding a new containment valve could be a risk.

"We're confident the job will work but obviously we can' guarantee success," said Suttles. 

The new plan will take between four and seven days to work before BP can report whether it's a success or failure. According to Philip W. Johnson, an engineering professor at the University of Alabama, if BP "can't get that valve on, things will get much worse" and that the new plan is "a scary proposition."

In addition to this new effort, a relief well is in the works which should be completed in August of this year. A major concern for BP is that hurricane seasons begins Tuesday, and they're hoping the weather cooperates while they work on the Gulf.

"What we are trying to do is create an engineered solution so that we can remain on station essentially through, not perhaps the heart of a hurricane, but through the very rough weather associated with a hurricane somewhere in the Gulf," said BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Even as BP readies for the next plan of action, Louisiana residents remain disappointed and are as angry as ever. Hundreds of protestors gathered in New Orleans to speak out against BP's continuing failures.

"I'm a little upset that the perpetrators of a crime that killed 11 people are still in charge of the crime site," said local musician Dr. John, an impromptu speaker. 

 



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RE: WOW!
By Solandri on 6/1/2010 2:32:55 AM , Rating: 5
To be fair, what I've read from the inquiry hearings so far makes it sound like the people operating the rig weren't ignoring the warning signs and brought up their concerns to the managers. It's just that their recommendations were dismissed by the BP executive in charge. This is starting to look like another Challenger disaster, where the people who knew the ins and outs of how these machines work had their safety concerns overridden by clueless managers more concerned about meeting a schedule and saving some money.

I'm an engineer by training, and you put failsafes (the BOP) in place. But you never deliberately put yourself in a position where you're forced to rely on the failsafes unless you have no other option. Usually it's managers and politicians who make the boneheaded decision to violate that principle. They get lucky and get away with it a few times, become overconfident, and decide it's ok to live dangerously all the time. It's why I believe promotions should be based not just on accomplishments, but equally on what the person's peers and underlings think of his/her operating style.


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