June 30, 2010

The 2010 Gulf of Mexico gusher is a replay of the 1979 Gulf gusher. The deep-ocean oil rig that exploded back then had the same type of malfunction, was run by the same company that was operating the currently-gushing rig, and failed attempts were made to fix it in the same way that failed attempts were made to fix the current one. It gushed for nine months until a relief well could be drilled.

So I'm curious: Should we pass a law that requires all deep-ocean oil rigs to have a backup relief well before trouble starts? We could require that the backup well could only be used in an emergency. Or would two wells only double the danger?

  • BP is currently lobbying the Canadian government to drop the relief well requirement for drilling in the arctic. I'm curious whether that would have been newsworthy to the Canadian media if the gulf spill had not happened.This article seems a good primer on relief wells.Part 11-Relief wells: Advancements in technology and application engineering make the relief well a more practical blowout control option
  • No matter what else they decide to do, I suggest they should have plenty of Kevin Costner's oil/water cleaner-uppers ready at all times.
  • How about fine the living shit out of them if they don't obey the law? There are standards in place, and oil companies ignore them with impunity thanks to our government 'shareholders' aka congresscritters looking the other way. Better yet: QUIT DRILLING IN THE DAMN OCEANS AND FIGURE OUT SOME ALTERNATE ENERGY SOLUTIONS!!
  • We really should come up with alternative energy solutions. But I'm not aware of any alternative energy solution that could comfortably replace the current system in terms of transportation. Electric cars can't go very far compared to gas-powered cars, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars seem impractical (I think).
  • Also: I was not aware that Canada already had a relief well requirement. It appears that Canada's requirement is actually only that companies must be ABLE to drill a relief well within about 3 months of drilling the first well. http://www.1115.org/2010/06/02/relief-wells-an-important-clarification/ After a bit of Googling, I found that the idea of instating a relief well requirement has already been discussed elsewhere on the Web. And it's been proposed in the Senate. Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, is proposing a bill that would require the drilling of a backup well along with the original. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/15/oil-spill-response-senato_n_612666.html Whether it's a good idea would depend on what exactly the requirements are. I think deep-ocean oil drillers ought to be required to drill a hole for a relief well that's very close but not yet connected to the primary well. In the event of a blowout like we had on April 20th, they could simply connect the relief well to the primary by drilling just a bit further, rather than having to start a new one from scratch. If the relief well was actually connected to the primary well from the start, there might be the risk of having a blowout on [i]that[/i] one too. So just drill a second well but don't quite finish it until it's necessary. Would that work?
  • Ten years on from a major oil spill. Don't click if you don't want bad news.
  • The only people that think there's no negative effect on the environment from an oil spill appear to be the actors in the Exxon commercials.
  • If you think the CNN live feed is a bit blurry and (like me) enjoy having 9 separate video windows pop up try this for a myriad of views of what is going on down there.