Saturday, May 15, 2010

Crews work to place tube over Gulf oil leak

Dusty Chauvin watches as the Mariah Jade passes through a patch of oil dispersant on May 5. Chauvin’s job was to position the boat through the oil while the rest of the crew worked to soak it up.

By Erika Bolstad, Lesley Clark, Daniel Chang and Jennifer Lebovich McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Published: Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:16 p.m.

WASHINGTON | Three undersea robots worked a mile below the Gulf of Mexico’s surface Friday to position a tube inside a leak spewing oil in the Gulf.

That effort continued as President Barack Obama appeared in the Rose Garden, saying he wouldn’t be satisfied until the leak is stopped — and chastising the oil companies for looking to pass the blame to one another.
Officials said they would know within the next 24 hours whether the latest effort to contain the leak is successful.
“And what really matters is this: There’s oil leaking and we need to stop it, and we need to stop it as soon as possible,” Obama said.
He accused BP, Transocean and Halliburton of making a “ridiculous spectacle” of finger-pointing during congressional hearings earlier in the week.
“The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t,” he said. “A full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there’s enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.”
The federal government is responsible as well, he said, for having too cozy a relationship between the oil companies and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates oil rigs.
“It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore,” he said.
Officials for days have been working to cap the leak, which they say is spewing about 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil into the Gulf each day.

But an NPR report Friday questioned that amount, saying their analysis of oil spilling into the Gulf finds the spill is far greater than official estimates. NPR findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska.
In that incident, about 250,000 barrels of oil were dumped into Prince William Sound after a tanker crashed.
Up to this point, it is estimated the Gulf spill has dumped 4 million gallons, or nearly 100,000 barrels, into the water. That is using a government and BP figure that the spill is dumping 5,000 barrels a day.
A report in the New York Times on Friday citing scientists also questioned that figure.
Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said Friday that while there have been different estimates, even if the spewing oil exceeds the 5,000 estimate, “our mobilization is far beyond that,” he said. “We haven’t been constrained by flow estimates. Ultimately, we’ll have to know the extent.”
The president noted there have been “varying reports” about how large the leak is, “but since no one can get down there in person, we know there’s a level of uncertainty.”
Following the reports, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to BP saying the public needs to know how much oil is spewing into the Gulf and how much might make it to shore.
“I am concerned that an underestimation of the flow may be impeding the ability to solve the leak and handle management of the disaster. We have already had one estimate that grossly underestimated the amount of oil being released and we cannot afford to have another,” he wrote.
BP officials on Friday said while the measurement of 5,000 barrels a day is inexact, it is still the best estimate.
The efforts to mitigate the leak continued Friday on the sea floor, where robots must place a 6-inch wide tube, which is surrounded by a rubber flap, into the leaking 21-inch riser.

The tube is attached to a ship, and if everything goes correctly, the oil will be pumped above. About 85 percent of the spill is pouring from that leak.
The robots are “working under very difficult conditions due to the temperature and pressure and the flow coming out of the pipe itself,” said Mark Proegler, a BP spokesman.
Allen said we could know later in the day whether the effort is successful and that BP is continuing to pursue other options to stop the leak before a relief well can be drilled.
The oil slick is “changing in character” Allen said.
“There’s good and bad,” he said, adding that means shore impacts will be in small bursts.
On Friday, federal regulators approved an experimental plan to inject chemical dispersants into the oil gushing 5,000 feet beneath the sea.

1 comment:

  1. Gulf Oil Spill-Positive Action Now! Stop The Flow!..
    Positive immediate action must be taken today to stop the out of control oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Assemble pile driving barges and begin lowering a pipe to surround the open pipe/preventer and seal it to the ocean floor. We need to stop the flow now! If the response to seal the leak permanently from the surface were taken at the time of the incident weeks ago; the flow would have been stopped weeks ago.
    BP is trying to save the well and salvage production instead of sealing the drill hole permanently. Top Hat, if it works at all, is temporary at best and the Junk Shot is very tenuous and not a permanent seal. The plan to siphon part of the flow to a surface vessel is temporary and is designed to salvage oil instead of stopping the flow.
    Is this environmental and economic chaos a terrorist attack? No more screwing around! It will take 83 sections of welded 60’ pipe and 80 valves to get to 5,000 feet in depth and as the pile is hammered into the sea floor it will seal the preventer and the end of the open pipe and the flow of oil will be contained permanently.
    President Obama, take control of the spill and start action to permanently seal the flow. - Now! Today! Not a month from now.
    Dr. Chu, how can you possibly think “things are looking up” in this environmental and economic chaos when the oil flow is unchecked and you have no immediate, positive plan to permanently cut off the flow?
    Call your representatives in Congress today and demand that positive action be taken today by the Corp of Engineers to seal off the flow of oil by plugging the leak from the surface.


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