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BP losing Gulf of Mexico oil rig spill battle

NEWS
BP losing Gulf of Mexico oil rig spill battle

Monday, May 24, 2010

Earth••• A top U.S. official has warned he’s not confident in British energy giant BP’s ability to solve the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar insisted the full force of the federal government was bearing down on BP, which is legally responsible for dealing with the ruptured pipe gushing oil from the wreckage of an offshore rig.

‘I have no question that BP is throwing everything at the problem to try to resolve it because this is an existential crisis for one of the world’s largest companies,’ Salazar said.

‘Do I have confidence that they know exactly what they’re doing? No, not completely.’
Salazar said he had been good to his word when it came to ensuring the British oil giant was fully committed in responding to the environmental disaster and indicated the government would step in if required.

‘If we find that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately and we’ll move forward to make sure that everything is being done to protect the people of the Gulf Coast, the ecological values of the Gulf Coast, and the values of the American people.’

Salazar noted the federal government had sent a team of scientific ‘all-stars that are now leading an Apollo 13-type effort’ to BP’s Houston headquarters.

‘They have pushed BP in every way that they can to kill the well and they have pushed BP in every way that they can to stop the pollution,’ he said.

‘If there is a way to kill this well, they will find it. If there is a way to stop this pollution from spreading, they will find it.’
‘The best option at the moment is to proceed with a ‘top kill’ which involves injecting heavy drilling fluids into the ruptured pipe, Salazar said.

‘Originally scheduled to begin on Sunday, it has now been delayed until Wednesday as a result of the complexity of positioning the equipment 1 mile below sea level for an operation that has never been done at such depths.

”Once the procedure is triggered, what you will see quickly is a set of decisions that lead down a number of different pathways,’ Salazar said.

”If top kill succeeds, the deal is over and we just move forward into what is essentially then a program of dealing with the oil that has spilled and protecting the ecological resources of the Gulf.

”If top kill fails, it triggers another set of plans that will be effectuating quickly.’

‘Even at the lowest estimates, more than six million gallons of crude have entered Gulf waters since the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, two days after an explosion that claimed 11 workers’ lives.
‘Independent experts have warned that the true size of the spill could be at least ten times higher.

‘Salazar said the nation’s top scientists were also working to get an accurate estimate on the flow rate out of the ruptured pipe and the actual size of the slick.

”Do I trust BP?’ Salazar said in response to a journalist’s question. ‘The fact is, this incident was never supposed to happen in the first place, because there was a number of different fail-safe arrangements that were supposed to be in place.’

‘While the incident is still being investigated, Salazar said a number of things went wrong: ‘Bad cementing, bad casing, bad blowout preventers, bad lots of things that went wrong here.’

”Those are BP’s responsibilities along with the rest of its contractors,’ he warned a day after President Barack Obama hinted for the first time criminal charges could be laid.
» BP: Live video link from the ROV monitoring the damaged riser
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