EPA directs BP to use less-toxic dispersant at subsea, surface

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 20 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive on May 20 requiring BP PLC to identify and use a less-toxic and more-effective dispersant from a list of EPA-authorized dispersants for use on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The directive applies to dispersants used both at the seabed and on the water’s surface. Chemical dispersants break the oil into smaller droplets so they degrade faster. EPA has not identified any significant effects on aquatic life, it said in a news release.

BP and government scientists have been monitoring water samples to determine the level of dispersants, and that information has been posted online by EPA.

On May 15, EPA and the US Coast Guard authorized BP to use dispersants at the wellhead on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 following the use of subsea dispersants in three tests. Dispersants have been used on the surface for weeks.

“The directive requires BP to identify a less-toxic alternative to be used both on the surface and under the water at the source of the oil leak within 24 hr and to begin using the less-toxic dispersant within 72 hr of submitting the alternative,” a May 20 EPA news release said.

If BP is unable to identify available alternate dispersants, then BP must provide EPA and USCG with a detailed description of the alternate dispersants that it considered. BP also must provide reasons why products are unacceptable under required standards.

Some 640,000 gal of dispersants had been deployed on the spill as of May 18 with 53,000 gal applied at the seabed using coiled tubing to deliver it. Airplanes applied the rest on the surface.

Concerns discussed
The dispersants BP used already on are EPA’s approved list, but this oil spill response is the first time dispersants have been used at the seabed. Dispersants also are being used in unprecedented volumes, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

“Because of its use in unprecedented volumes and because much is unknown about the underwater use of dispersants, EPA wants to ensure BP is using the least-toxic product authorized for use,” the agency said May 20. “We reserve the right to discontinue the use of this dispersant method if any negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits.”

Previously, USCG Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters that subsea application of dispersants mean fewer dispersants can be used than the volume of dispersants that are needed to work on the surface.

BP has used a chemical dispersant called Corexit made by Nalco Co. During recent congressional hearings in Washington, DC, BP America Chairman Lamar McKay said federal spill response officials were involved along with BP in selecting Corexit.

McKay said availability of large volumes of two formulations of Corexit was part of the reason for selecting that particular chemical.

The EPA directive came a day after lawmakers expressed concerns during a House committee hearing in Washington about the brand of chemical dispersants being used in the Deepwater Horizon accident.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) questioned the selection of Corexit instead of using other dispersants on EPA’s list that he believes might be safer. Nalco’s board includes a former executive from BP and also a former executive of ExxonMobil Corp.

“Why would you use something that is much more toxic and much less effective, other than you have a corporate relationship with the manufacturer,” Nadler said.

Doug Suttles, chief operating office of BP Exploration & Production, said May 19 that subsea delivery of dispersants appears to be very effective.

‘Our efforts…clearly are making a difference,” in the amount of oil being seen on the gulf surface, he said during a news conference from Robert, La.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

Alaska LNG project partners file resource reports with FERC

02/12/2015 A series of draft environmental and socioeconomic reports for the Alaska LNG project have been submitted to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commis...

Second ExxonMobil crude tanker nears service

01/12/2015 The second of two new US-flagged crude oil tankers belonging to SeaRiver Maritime Inc., the marine affiliate of ExxonMobil Corp., has been built an...

ExxonMobil forecasts 35% higher world energy demand by 2040

12/15/2014 A significantly bigger global middle class, expanded emerging economies, and 2 billion more people will contribute to 35% higher world energy deman...

ExxonMobil forecasts 35% higher world energy demand by 2040

12/10/2014 A significantly bigger global middle class, expanded emerging economies, and 2 billion more people will contribute to 35% higher world energy deman...

Firms' third-quarter earnings climbed amid lower crude oil prices

12/08/2014 A sample of 58 oil and gas producers and refiners based in the US recorded a combined 38% jump in profits for this year's third quarter compared wi...

Chapman to succeed Pryor as ExxonMobil Chemical president

11/24/2014 Neil A. Chapman is expected to assume the roles of president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and vice-president of ExxonMobil Corp. following the retire...

Induced seismicity research effort identifies information gaps

11/10/2014 A federally coordinated effort to determine whether oil and gas activities are related to growing reports of induced seismic activity has identifie...

ExxonMobil, Linn to make second asset exchange this year

10/06/2014 ExxonMobil Corp. has agreed to trade interest in 500 net acres from South Belridge field near Bakersfield, Calif., to Linn Energy LLC, Houston, in ...

ExxonMobil 'winds down' Arctic well, obeys sanctions

09/29/2014 ExxonMobil Corp. released a statement that it is complying with all US sanctions on Russia after news reports that the operator had halted operatio...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected