Monday, May 31, 2010


The late, great Red Adair once said that the "top kill" method of shutting down an oil leak like the one in the Gulf of Mexico would not work because the pressure is so strong that deep it won't make any difference how much mud you ram into the drill hole. Basically, the pressures at over 5.000 feet down are so great that if any oil is leaking out at all, then its so high already that mud won't hold it in. Apparently he was right, because the method did not stop the leak. Every time I wrote about this I used cautious words because I wasn't sure it was going to do the job. Like everyone, except maybe some really rabid environmentalists, I hoped it would but in the end, it failed.

So now BP works on other methods in the crushing depths of almost a mile of water, working effectively without lights as the oil boils out. Some of the ideas include replacing the cap on the drill entirely with one that will successfully shut off the flow. In any case, the oil continues to burst out of the leaking, broken drill line.

Some are calling for President Obama to take over for BP and do the job himself (metaphorically, as in the federal government takes charge) but even if this happened, the federal government has no one with the skills, equipment, or training to even attempt such a repair, so they'd end up turning to BP or someone similar in the private sector to do it anyway, so its best to leave this in BP's hands. After all, every day increases their costs and this is their well, so they have the greatest motivation to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Some are saying this could take until August to get done, which makes cleanup efforts on the surface all the more pressing. That the federal government can get involved in, and should I believe. The Obama administration was slow to take real action and still is leaderless, but at least they seem to be trying a bit harder now. Even the New York Times, careful to avoid any mention or direction of criticism at President Obama, reported a month ago
The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” and then set up a second command center in Mobile. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.

The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Ms. Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.

By Friday afternoon, she said, the Defense Department had agreed to send two large military transport planes to spray chemicals that can disperse the oil while it is still in the Gulf.
Unlike the left in dealing with President Bush during the Katrina/New Orleans disaster, I do not expect the government to be perfect or to be fully active on the scene instantly. President Obama's reaction to this has been anemic, and slow, but there isn't all that much they could have done anyway - and I've gone over the failings of the government to get equipment in place long before such a disaster already.


Tina said...

I was wondering what Red Adair might do about this. Thanks for the explanation.

JoelAT said...

Is BP (British Petroleum) a North American US based company, I always assumed it was a British entity, and therefor the US Government cannot take it over.

Christopher Taylor said...

I beleive they are British, but I was referring to the government taking over the work of stopping the leak, not the company its self. Sorry that was unclear.

JoelAT said...

Reading back, I now see that you were indeed clear, I just mentally removed the "for" from the sentence as it is apparently easier for me to assume that this government believes they can do anything they want when it comes to commerce.

checkers said...

Supposedly the Russians have stopped leaks like this in the past with a well placed nuclear explosion.. Why could not one drill down near the pipe and set of a small tactical nuke? the force should seal the pipe shut below the surface.

Christopher Taylor said...

Yeah my friends and I were talking about that a few days ago, its not like you have to worry about wildlife, and at 5000 feet down its unlikely to cause much damage.