Attempts to stem flow of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a serious setback on Saturday when crystallised gas filled the containment dome that had been placed over the worst of the two remaining leaks.
The dome – a 98-ton steel box with an opening at the top – was lowered over the leak on the seabed on Friday night, from where it was to funnel the oil through a pipe to a tanker, effectively capturing 85 percent of the leaking crude.
But engineers found gas hydrates — crystal structures that form when gas and water mix – in the dome, which would have blocked the oil from being siphoned out of the top of the box.
BP engineers have moved the containment dome, which was seen as the best short-term way to stem the flow from the oil well, off to the side on the sea floor and will take two days trying to come up with a solution
The company, under pressure from the Obama administration to limit the damage to the Gulf and coastlines of four states, expected hydrates, which are present at this depth due to the low temperatures and high pressure of the ocean floor. But they had not expected the volumes encountered after a crew lowered the dome nearly a mile (1.6 km) to the sea floor.
WTF??? You’re telling me now that BP leased and then operated an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico for over 8 years while all that time having absolutely no concept of how much oil was in the field below (which they were the principle developers of) and just what the flow rate was???
On top of that, you’re also trying to tell me that BP, the forth largest company in the world, has not been able to find anyone on their staff of 92,000 who might have some knowledge of deep sea pressures on oil behaviour and who might have been able to tell them that the dome, which has only ever been used at much lower depths and on smaller spills, would not work???
Somehow I just can’t buy it. Either BP is profoundly stupid, or there’s something else at stake… oh yer, maybe it’s the huge costs that they’ll incur in cleaning it all up, or the political backlash which will deny them access to the oil fields in the future. Whatever it is, I’ve seen better crisis management in a girls’ school dorm.