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« Beijing floats the notion of a basket value-setter for the yuan | Main | Hillary pushes for the internationalization of the South China Sea dispute process »
12:04AM

Big Oil plans its Big Spill Force

D’oh!  Big Oil didn’t have a rapid-response force for deepwater disasters before Deepwater Horizon!?!?!

Well, they do now, so their industry was perturbed enough to create a rule-set where previously none was thought worthy enough to exist.

Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell all pitch in a quarter billion to make it happen. Goal is capacity to capture and contain up to 100k bpd at 10k feet below the surface.  Deepwater’s numbers were 60k bpd at 5k depth.

New system will feature several oil-collection ships and other subsurface gear will, coincidentally enough, resemble the ad hoc package that BP was forced to invent on the spot, thanks to Deepwater.

You can just slap my forehead and utter your favorite interjection.

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Reader Comments (5)

Interesting. It will eventually prove to be as ineffective as MSRC proved themselves to be in this incident. Direct observation of their operations at the Macondo incident showed their equipment and tactics to be frozen in the 1990s era when the outfit was created. Their staff proved themselves to be just what you might expect from retirees who never expected to do much other than show up for required maintenance and the occasional drill.

Unless the vessels, equipment and staff dedicated to this effort are actively engaged in oil-field work, they will figuratively rust in the same way that MSRC did -- turning this initiative into a billion-dollar public-relations exercise. I keep coming back to the idea that this might in fact be a job for government, but that probably would not work, either. It would end up in a funding

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereastriver

I have to strongly disagree with the mega oil companies approach. The companies are supposed to compete with one another not conspire together.

From what I gathered from the recent Congressional hearings the companies all seemed to have adopted the same disaster plan and nobody at the top read or understood the plan.

All of this was another instance of ignoring existing law, the venerable Sherman Anti Trust act.

Each company should come up independently with a plan. The USG should then approve the plan. The trade here is cost verses public interest.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Canepa

Joe,

Acting in concert to insure against major catastrophe is hardly "conspiring". Even if the companies recognize each other as competition, that doesn't mean they can't agree on a basic safety model - By your suggestion, to ask each company (of what size, btw? 1 rig? 1000 rigs? Does it matter?) to create its OWN force to handle leaks (again, of what size, btw?) is to introduce an incredibly high bar for any newcomers to the field - and thus, by regulation, enforce and ensure the oligopoly.

Tom,

"I coulda had a V8!"
(favorite interjection. This week at least).

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew in DC

Ooops. The missing section of my post, added at bottom. Sorry.

Interesting. It will eventually prove to be as ineffective as MSRC proved themselves to be in this incident. Direct observation of their operations at the Macondo incident showed their equipment and tactics to be frozen in the 1990s era when the outfit was created. Their staff proved themselves to be just what you might expect from retirees who never expected to do much other than show up for required maintenance and the occasional drill.

Unless the vessels, equipment and staff dedicated to this effort are actively engaged in oil-field work, they will figuratively rust in the same way that MSRC did -- turning this initiative into a billion-dollar public-relations exercise. I keep coming back to the idea that this might in fact be a job for government, but that probably would not work, either. It would end up in a funding void, slowly to be starved like the Coast Guard.

Better to look to best practices in the North Sea and adopt them. Fund the installation and maintenance of appropriate equipment on existing, working oil service vessels which by their nature and operations, would maintain the skill set necessary to respond. And finally, fund a study center to analyze and improve best practices, and design and build appropriate equipment for response.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereastriver

While I applaud the idea in concept I would rather see the billion dollars spent on actually engineering blow out prevention technology that actually prevents a blowout. That was the felony offense at Macondo imho, because if the blowout preventer had actually worked as it was supposed to then the entire episode would have been a 1 week news cycle at most, and the environmental damage would have been 1% or less of what it was.

I am a pro energy and pro technology guy, but this incident illustrates why and where you need government regulation Its not on disaster clean-up, its on disaster PREVENTION. For big risk situations like this (deepwater blowout prevention in this case) there needs to be a collectively standardized and regulated solution. That is the only way that you can ensure reliability, effect adequate inspection, and ensure long term reliability and repeatability. And that is essential.

The same goes for nuclear power plants and all I can say is that I pray to God that our regulations and regulators are in better shape there (which I suspect is the case, but I would think highly of the Administration and sleep a little sounder if they mandated some spot inspections just to make sure).

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike Nelson

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