BP Sending Massive Funnel To Contain Oil Spill

BP is in the middle of constructing has built a 100-ton concrete and steel funnel that will be placed over the Gulf of Mexico oil leak to contain it and allow the oil to be pumped onshore. The placement, which I imagine is something like an incredibly stressful large-scale version of The Claw Game, is scheduled for noon eastern today. Will it do the trick?

In the procedure, a 40ft high steel box is lowered by boatcrane into the water and secured over the leak. A procedure like this has never before been attempted at these depths. The leak is 5,000 feet below the surface

CEO Tony Hawyward said that he could not estimate when the leak will be stopped or how much it would cost. He told the BBC, “We will ultimately win it because ultimately one of the interventions to stop the leak will stop the leak.”

The spill started April 20th after an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico a Transocean, Ltd-owned and BP-leased offshore rig exploded and sank, causing a government-estimated 5,000 barrels of oil daily, about 210,000 gallons per day, to begin leaking into the waters.

Is BP doing enough? Did they do enough in advance? An article on Truthout says no, pointing to what they say is BP’s history of cheap-skate corner-cutting and pervericating that puts short-term savings in front of regulatory compliance. As they say, the past…

Before the Exxon Valdez grounding, BP’s Alyeska group claimed it had these full-time, oil spill response crews. Alyeska had hired Alaskan natives, trained them to drop from helicopters into the freezing water and set booms in case of emergency. Alyeska also certified in writing that a containment barge with equipment was within five hours sailing of any point in the Prince William Sound. Alyeska also told the state and federal government it had plenty of boom and equipment cached on Bligh Island.

But it was all a lie. On that March night in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound, the BP group had, in fact, not a lick of boom there. And Alyeska had fired the natives who had manned the full-time response teams, replacing them with phantom crews, lists of untrained employees with no idea how to control a spill. And that containment barge at the ready was, in fact, laid up in a drydock in Cordova, locked under ice, 12 hours away…

…is prologue:

…This just in: Becnel tells me that one of the platform workers has informed him that the BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews, who, therefore, poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So, it blew.

Slick Operator: The BP I’ve Known Too Well [Truthout]
Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Transocean-BP rig had safety valve problem in UK [Telegraph.co.uk]
Moment of truth for BP as engineers reach oil leak with 100-tonne dome that could finally stem ‘volcano’ of oil [Daily Mail]
BP: oil leak will be stopped, but can’t say when [AP]