Operation "Top Kill" fails. Big surprise! What's the next bright idea on the horizon for the gulf oil disaster?

  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    May 30, 2010 1:13 PM GMT
    Was it just me or did anyone else think that operation "Top Kill" sounded like the brainchild of a 5th grader who needed to come up with something quick for his science project?

    The fact that anybody termed this idea "promising" is ridiculous.

    I think more time was put in by the PR people coming up with the name "Top Kill" than the time that was used for the actual plan.

    "Mission accomplished?" NOT.

    I cannot believe that we have the mechanisms in place to pump oil from the ocean and not a contingency plan for what happens if something terribly goes wrong.


    I would like a dialogue on this, but PLEASE lets spare the politicization.
    Let's not fall into the blame game.

    Basically, will any good come out of this? Will offshore drilling policies change?

    How confident are you that anything can work to contain the oil?

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    May 30, 2010 1:17 PM GMT
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    May 30, 2010 2:04 PM GMT
    It may be time for the US Federal Government to seize control of the BP operation. I'm not sure of the legalities involved, and might be based on overriding national emergency, company incompetence and its potentially illegal deceptions & violations.

    Until now the US position, echoed again by the Coast Guard Commandant, is that only BP has the equipment, technical experts and knowledge to cap the leak. But these assets may have been mis-utilized based on choices made at corporate level, meaning it's now time to cut that level out of the decision-making process, with the US taking direct operational control of the effort, using BP technical experts & equipment.

    Of course, certain political forces (and I'm trying to walk a fine line within the OPs guidance) are spreading the disinformation that the US government should have stepped in and stopped the leak itself. Except the US does not have the resources for such an operation, and relies on the oil companies. Indeed, a law passed by Congress soon after the 1989 Exxon oil spill specifically makes clean-up the responsibility of the companies involved.

    And since BP is a multi-national corporation, the US does not have legal access to and control of the company's world-wide assets. The US could try seizing the Gulf operation, but BP might then refuse to commit its other resources from elsewhere. Such a standoff could become ugly and counter-productive. This is a real mess in more ways than one.
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    May 30, 2010 2:24 PM GMT
    The problem is that there's no precedent for this kind of deep-water oil spill. It's a terrible situation, primarily in ecological terms, but I do believe BP is trying whatever they can.

    Coming up with a brand new solution to a problem that's never existed before can't be expected to have a clear timeline. It's kind of like standing around and asking why an AIDS or Cancer cure hasn't been found this month. It takes trial and error, and hopefully, one of BP's solutions will succeed.

    As for seizing assets in the Gulf of Mexico, isn't BP's drilling platform leased from Transocean? It's not even technically BP's (talk about a bad deal...)
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    May 30, 2010 2:51 PM GMT
    SeaSon saidThe problem is that there's no precedent for this kind of deep-water oil spill. It's a terrible situation, primarily in ecological terms, but I do believe BP is trying whatever they can.

    Coming up with a brand new solution to a problem that's never existed before can't be expected to have a clear timeline. It's kind of like standing around and asking why an AIDS or Cancer cure hasn't been found this month. It takes trial and error, and hopefully, one of BP's solutions will succeed.

    As for seizing assets in the Gulf of Mexico, isn't BP's drilling platform leased from Transocean? It's not even technically BP's (talk about a bad deal...)


    No free passes for BP on this!!!! You can't compare this to curing Cancer or AIDS! Please!!!!

    They have enough engineers and scientists along with management to have sat down, taken worst case scenarios and come up with some plan of action in case of a disaster like this. There is NO excuse for a company involved in doing what they do and not being prepared for a catastrophe!

    I don't know why they just didn't send empty tankers immediately to the site and start sucking up water and oil and sending it back to a refinery to process. Just keep sending tankers to fill until they cap the well. They are just full of excuses.

    I keep my fingers crossed for Obama, he has taken on a major challenge and if it doesn't go well.............well I hate to see all those hateful right wingers regain power in DC.
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    May 30, 2010 2:52 PM GMT
    what gets me angry (maybe too harsh a term) about this whole situation is that this is EXACTLY what all the ennvironmentalist warned would happen with offshore drilling. why was there no contingency plan ready in place in the event that such a disaster would occur? the blow out preventer was a plan to prevent a spill---but is the industry so arrogant to think that they didn't need to have a plan in case a spill actually occurs? i'm all for responsible offshore drilling, but this incident has shown that the oil giants have only been fooling us into believing they are doing everything they can to protect the environment.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    May 30, 2010 2:54 PM GMT
    This whole thing is horrifying to me. It's mind-boggling that they can figure out how to drill and set up an oil rig all the way at the bottom of the ocean, but had no fail-safe devices set up in the event of a disaster. I don't even want to think of the mess along the gulf coast if/when the first major hurricane of the season rolls in.
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    May 30, 2010 2:58 PM GMT
    SeaSon saidThe problem is that there's no precedent for this kind of deep-water oil spill. It's a terrible situation, primarily in ecological terms, but I do believe BP is trying whatever they can.

    Coming up with a brand new solution to a problem that's never existed before can't be expected to have a clear timeline. It's kind of like standing around and asking why an AIDS or Cancer cure hasn't been found this month. It takes trial and error, and hopefully, one of BP's solutions will succeed.

    As for seizing assets in the Gulf of Mexico, isn't BP's drilling platform leased from Transocean? It's not even technically BP's (talk about a bad deal...)

    Correct, the rig belonged to Transocean, but I believe BP had operational control of it. Of course now the rig's history, and I think the leased site was BP's also, the oil theirs, too, and that's what's contaminating the Gulf.

    This is indeed unprecedented. But before this drilling began, BP had to state that they could control such an accident, and of course that it was a very low probability in the first place. All wrong claims, as it now turns out. And they may have been negligent in their operation of the well, violating their own guidelines that they had claimed would protect against such an accident.

    Of course the US approval and oversight process also appears to have been highly flawed, but that gets us into the blame game the OP requests we avoid. Just focusing on the "what next" aspects, I'm not as convinced as you that BP really IS doing all it can do expeditiously, and in good faith. It seems they continue to be looking after their corporate interests first, in the areas of PR and trying to limit their future liability with misleading underestimates of the problem.
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    May 30, 2010 3:04 PM GMT
    The very same thing happened 30 years ago, though only in 200 feet of water vs. today's 5K feet. Funny thing is, they didn't know how to deal with a leak then, and they still don't know how to deal with a leak.
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    May 30, 2010 3:10 PM GMT
    Shortnsexystud said
    No free passes for BP on this!!!! You can't compare this to curing Cancer or AIDS! Please!!!!


    The comparison is that both are problems for which there is currently no known solution. If you know of a way to cap a deep-water oil spill, I suggest calling BP immediately. They don't stand to gain anything from prolonging this crisis. It's a PR mess and they're losing billions in damages and fines.

    I rarely side with oil companies (try to be eco-friendly in many ways), but I think it's naive to be sitting comfortably on land, demanding that a solution to such a complex problem be found in days.

    Yes, they should have had safety mechanisms in place... but they didn't or perhaps they did and those didn't work. It's in every eco-friendly person's interests to hope this problem can be solved. Whether by BP or someone else. Pointing fingers at this stage isn't actually going to help stop the oil spill.
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    May 30, 2010 3:24 PM GMT
    All three companies were cutting corners, which is what caused this mess so, yeah, finger pointing is allowed.
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    May 30, 2010 3:30 PM GMT
    ... but is it going to stop the oil spill?
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    May 30, 2010 3:34 PM GMT
    sadly, the spill is going to stop itself. at some point the pressure down there will subside and the spill will stop. i doubt bp will find a solution in time. heck, this "top kill" probably exacerbated the situation causing more pressure down there to cause more oil to spew out.
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    May 30, 2010 3:48 PM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidThis whole thing is horrifying to me. It's mind-boggling that they can figure out how to drill and set up an oil rig all the way at the bottom of the ocean, but had no fail-safe devices set up in the event of a disaster. I don't even want to think of the mess along the gulf coast if/when the first major hurricane of the season rolls in.


    They did have a failsafe, it didn't work. Why, because no one has actually drilled oil at this depth despite your sacred cow, Sarah Palin, insisting that it was all absolutely "safe" and "environmentally friendly". This is what happens when people get to wrapped up in bumper sticker ideology and start mindlessly chanting things like "drill, baby, drill" without putting any actual thought into what that means. Perhaps if people like yourself would have thought about this before we wouldn't be living it now.

    For those that claim it was an accident. BP new about problems eleven months ago. Negligence is not an accident.


    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/us/30rig.html?hp
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    May 30, 2010 4:17 PM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidThis whole thing is horrifying to me. It's mind-boggling that they can figure out how to drill and set up an oil rig all the way at the bottom of the ocean, but had no fail-safe devices set up in the event of a disaster. I don't even want to think of the mess along the gulf coast if/when the first major hurricane of the season rolls in.


    That would be a total nightmare if a major hurricane were to happen (as per usual) now. Then the entire Gulf of Mexico would be screwed.
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    May 30, 2010 4:23 PM GMT
    HTownRunner saidwhat gets me angry (maybe too harsh a term) about this whole situation is that this is EXACTLY what all the ennvironmentalist warned would happen with offshore drilling. why was there no contingency plan ready in place in the event that such a disaster would occur? the blow out preventer was a plan to prevent a spill---but is the industry so arrogant to think that they didn't need to have a plan in case a spill actually occurs? i'm all for responsible offshore drilling, but this incident has shown that the oil giants have only been fooling us into believing they are doing everything they can to protect the environment.


    And may I ask how you would have had them test said plan. It looks to me like that have tried 4 or 5 plans and none of them have worked. blow out preventer, containment dome, top kill, hose to suck up the oil etc.... when something has never happened before you can't generally accuraely plan for the event because there is no way to test it in this case without causing an environmental disaster
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    May 30, 2010 4:25 PM GMT
    reppaT saidThe very same thing happened 30 years ago, though only in 200 feet of water vs. today's 5K feet. Funny thing is, they didn't know how to deal with a leak then, and they still don't know how to deal with a leak.


    sorry reppat you know i adore you but containing a spill 200 feet under water and one a mile underwater are completely different scenarios
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    May 30, 2010 4:35 PM GMT
    chungo44 said
    HTownRunner saidwhat gets me angry (maybe too harsh a term) about this whole situation is that this is EXACTLY what all the ennvironmentalist warned would happen with offshore drilling. why was there no contingency plan ready in place in the event that such a disaster would occur? the blow out preventer was a plan to prevent a spill---but is the industry so arrogant to think that they didn't need to have a plan in case a spill actually occurs? i'm all for responsible offshore drilling, but this incident has shown that the oil giants have only been fooling us into believing they are doing everything they can to protect the environment.


    And may I ask how you would have had them test said plan. It looks to me like that have tried 4 or 5 plans and none of them have worked. blow out preventer, containment dome, top kill, hose to suck up the oil etc.... when something has never happened before you can't generally accuraely plan for the event because there is no way to test it in this case without causing an environmental disaster


    if a multibillion dollar company can spend millions on successfully figuring out a way to drill for oil thousands of feet below the ocean, i'm sure they could have spent some time figuring out a way to stop an oil spill before an actual oil spill occurs. the whole excuse that this has never happened before won't fly. it was inevitable that it would occur. it wasn't a question of if it would occur, but rather when. and apparently that when occurred a month ago.

    on a side note, i thought the containment dome was a very viable solution. but then it developed crystals in the ocean depth. what kind of scientists/engineers do they have working for them? didn't they know this would occur? when they first sent submersibles down to put the drill on the well site, did crystals not develop too? why didn't they take that into account? why was a contaiment dome not thought of and tested BEFORE the spill occurred? the industry was just too arrogant to even think that such a disaster would occur.
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    May 30, 2010 4:35 PM GMT
    This is not unprecedented. In 1979 the Ixtoc1, a 2 mile deep exploratory well in 150 ft of water, off Mexico in the Bahia de Campeche had a similar blowout. The Ixtoc well, about 600 miles south of texas, took nine months to cap. Two relief wells were drilled that allowed the Ixtoc 1 well to be capped.
    The problem with the Deepwater Horizon blowot is it's location. The well is 1 mile deep and the oil deposits another 3 miles beneath the ocean floor.
    Oil from the Ixtoc1 spill hit the 90 miles of the Texas barrier islands, protecting the the fragile coastal marshes. Perhaps if Louisiana had been allowed to build the sand barriers suggested by it's governor and other local government officals some of the marshes might be saved.
    Perhaps if we allowed drilling closer to shore in more shallow water it would be easier to workout problems as they arise.
    BP still is the best option for a solution, they have the engineers and knowledge that the Federal Government doesn't have. It's in their intrest to cap the well as each day it remains uncapped it cost them profits.
    Maybe we should understand more why they were given safty passes on inspections and why inspections were never made. Why were they to be given a safty award just before the well had the blowout ?
    Maybe we should find out the circumstances behind Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the Minerals Management Service, leaving her post.
    With this blowout being used to suspend exploration off the coast in Alaska and to cancel off shore leases and new permits , There is no way not to politicize the situation. As the price of oil and gas rise it will become more and more politicized.
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    May 30, 2010 4:42 PM GMT
    HTownRunner said
    chungo44 said
    HTownRunner saidwhat gets me angry (maybe too harsh a term) about this whole situation is that this is EXACTLY what all the ennvironmentalist warned would happen with offshore drilling. why was there no contingency plan ready in place in the event that such a disaster would occur? the blow out preventer was a plan to prevent a spill---but is the industry so arrogant to think that they didn't need to have a plan in case a spill actually occurs? i'm all for responsible offshore drilling, but this incident has shown that the oil giants have only been fooling us into believing they are doing everything they can to protect the environment.


    And may I ask how you would have had them test said plan. It looks to me like that have tried 4 or 5 plans and none of them have worked. blow out preventer, containment dome, top kill, hose to suck up the oil etc.... when something has never happened before you can't generally accuraely plan for the event because there is no way to test it in this case without causing an environmental disaster


    if a multibillion dollar company can spend millions on successfully figuring out a way to drill for oil thousands of feet below the ocean, i'm sure they could have spent some time figuring out a way to stop an oil spill before an actual oil spill occurs. the whole excuse that this has never happened before won't fly. it was inevitable that it would occur. it wasn't a question of if it would occur, but rather when. and apparently that when occurred a month ago.

    on a side note, i thought the containment dome was a very viable solution. but then it developed crystals in the ocean depth. what kind of scientists/engineers do they have working for them? didn't they know this would occur? when they first sent submersibles down to put the drill on the well site, did crystals not develop too? why didn't they take that into account? why was a contaiment dome not thought of and tested BEFORE the spill occurred? the industry was just too arrogant to even think that such a disaster would occur.


    and how would you have liked them to test a containment dome. are you advocating that they should have blown a hole in the ocean floor release millions of gallons of oil in order to test the solution? I am not pro oil company but man you are naive. why did they think crystals would not be a problem? maybe because of the rate of flow. It might have been considered that the rate of flow would push the oil and gas up to the surface at such a speed that crystalization would not be a problem as it would have been on a submersible that stayed at that depth for continued periods of time.

    your ignorance here astounds me.
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    May 30, 2010 5:05 PM GMT
    chungo44 said
    HTownRunner said
    chungo44 said
    HTownRunner saidwhat gets me angry (maybe too harsh a term) about this whole situation is that this is EXACTLY what all the ennvironmentalist warned would happen with offshore drilling. why was there no contingency plan ready in place in the event that such a disaster would occur? the blow out preventer was a plan to prevent a spill---but is the industry so arrogant to think that they didn't need to have a plan in case a spill actually occurs? i'm all for responsible offshore drilling, but this incident has shown that the oil giants have only been fooling us into believing they are doing everything they can to protect the environment.


    And may I ask how you would have had them test said plan. It looks to me like that have tried 4 or 5 plans and none of them have worked. blow out preventer, containment dome, top kill, hose to suck up the oil etc.... when something has never happened before you can't generally accuraely plan for the event because there is no way to test it in this case without causing an environmental disaster


    if a multibillion dollar company can spend millions on successfully figuring out a way to drill for oil thousands of feet below the ocean, i'm sure they could have spent some time figuring out a way to stop an oil spill before an actual oil spill occurs. the whole excuse that this has never happened before won't fly. it was inevitable that it would occur. it wasn't a question of if it would occur, but rather when. and apparently that when occurred a month ago.

    on a side note, i thought the containment dome was a very viable solution. but then it developed crystals in the ocean depth. what kind of scientists/engineers do they have working for them? didn't they know this would occur? when they first sent submersibles down to put the drill on the well site, did crystals not develop too? why didn't they take that into account? why was a contaiment dome not thought of and tested BEFORE the spill occurred? the industry was just too arrogant to even think that such a disaster would occur.


    and how would you have liked them to test a containment dome. are you advocating that they should have blown a hole in the ocean floor release millions of gallons of oil in order to test the solution? I am not pro oil company but man you are naive. why did they think crystals would not be a problem? maybe because of the rate of flow. It might have been considered that the rate of flow would push the oil and gas up to the surface at such a speed that crystalization would not be a problem as it would have been on a submersible that stayed at that depth for continued periods of time.

    your ignorance here astounds me.


    you're completely missing the point. the containgment dome. top-kill. this other new plan they are coming up with. these are all contingency plans that could have been thought of BEFORE an actual spill occurred. if they wanted to test them, they could have developed a prototype. do you think the first offshore drill bit developed was tested directly in the seafloor? do you think the first blow-out preventer was tested in a well that the developers purposefully "blew-out"? no. even if the company couldn't test their plans under actual scenarios until they occurred, they would have at least been prepared for the inevitable disaster if they planned for it. but they weren't.

    from the wsj: "The four-story, 98-ton dome took the company two weeks to build and deploy—evidence, critics say, that the company didn't envision or prepare for the sort of blowout that occurred last month."

    as for the crystallization, it occurred as the dome was being sent to the ocean floor. as it was descending. any grade A-high school physics student knows that occurs at that depth and that pressure.

    i take it you are neither an engineer nor have worked in research and development.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    May 30, 2010 5:29 PM GMT
    shybuffguy saidThis is not unprecedented. In 1979 the Ixtoc1, a 2 mile deep exploratory well in 150 ft of water, off Mexico in the Bahia de Campeche had a similar blowout. The Ixtoc well, about 600 miles south of texas, took nine months to cap. Two relief wells were drilled that allowed the Ixtoc 1 well to be capped.
    The problem with the Deepwater Horizon blowot is it's location. The well is 1 mile deep and the oil deposits another 3 miles beneath the ocean floor.
    Oil from the Ixtoc1 spill hit the 90 miles of the Texas barrier islands, protecting the the fragile coastal marshes. Perhaps if Louisiana had been allowed to build the sand barriers suggested by it's governor and other local government officals some of the marshes might be saved.
    Perhaps if we allowed drilling closer to shore in more shallow water it would be easier to workout problems as they arise.
    BP still is the best option for a solution, they have the engineers and knowledge that the Federal Government doesn't have. It's in their intrest to cap the well as each day it remains uncapped it cost them profits.
    Maybe we should understand more why they were given safty passes on inspections and why inspections were never made. Why were they to be given a safty award just before the well had the blowout ?
    Maybe we should find out the circumstances behind Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the Minerals Management Service, leaving her post.
    With this blowout being used to suspend exploration off the coast in Alaska and to cancel off shore leases and new permits , There is no way not to politicize the situation. As the price of oil and gas rise it will become more and more politicized.


    I could be wrong on this, so feel free to correct me, but didn't the MMS grant the original environmental waivers in 2008 to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama? I'm not saying the Obama administration didn't continue the practice (because they did), but I think BP's original exemption was done under the Bush administration.
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    May 30, 2010 5:29 PM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidThis whole thing is horrifying to me. It's mind-boggling that they can figure out how to drill and set up an oil rig all the way at the bottom of the ocean, but had no fail-safe devices set up in the event of a disaster. I don't even want to think of the mess along the gulf coast if/when the first major hurricane of the season rolls in.


    To be fair, they did have a failsafe i.e. the so-called "blow-out preventer". It just didn't work.

    Perhaps you acknowledge for once that government might be necessary?
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    May 30, 2010 5:44 PM GMT
    TigerTim said
    CuriousJockAZ saidThis whole thing is horrifying to me. It's mind-boggling that they can figure out how to drill and set up an oil rig all the way at the bottom of the ocean, but had no fail-safe devices set up in the event of a disaster. I don't even want to think of the mess along the gulf coast if/when the first major hurricane of the season rolls in.


    To be fair, they did have a failsafe i.e. the so-called "blow-out preventer". It just didn't work.

    Perhaps you acknowledge for once that government might be necessary?



    I don't recall ever saying Government wasn't necessary. They certainly are for some things -- certainly not all. Unfortunately, there is not a whole hell of a lot "The Government" can do about this situation at the moment. It's as if everybody -- government, BP, the experts -- are all caught with their pants down and haven't a clue what to do. I certainly don't think this disaster should mean we stop drilling for oil any more than a series of plane crashes should mean we stop flying.
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    May 30, 2010 6:01 PM GMT
    chungo44 said
    reppaT saidThe very same thing happened 30 years ago, though only in 200 feet of water vs. today's 5K feet. Funny thing is, they didn't know how to deal with a leak then, and they still don't know how to deal with a leak.


    sorry reppat you know i adore you but containing a spill 200 feet under water and one a mile underwater are completely different scenarios


    But that's my point. If they couldn't deal with it in 200 ft. of water, and they still cannot deal with it in 200 ft. of water (true), why are they drilling at 5K feet?