President Obama visits oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

(This story was updated May 3 with BP comment)

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer
HOUSTON, May 2 -- President Barack Obama on May 2 visited Venice, La., vowing to do whatever it takes to stop the continuing crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which he called a "massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster."

Spill response officials in southern Louisiana said they received reports of oil reaching the shore but these reports have yet to be confirmed. Authorities noted high winds prevented any airplane flights low enough to the ground for officials to tell if oil had reached land in the Mississippi River delta area.

The deadly Apr. 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire has tested industry and governmental response capability. Transocean Ltd.’s semisubmersible rig was drilling a well for BP PLC in 4,992 ft of water when the explosion occurred, leaving 11 workers missing and presumed dead.

The spill, fed by an estimated 5,000 b/d of crude oil leaking from the BP Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252, resulted in an oil slick that is spreading. The slick forced shutdown of two production platforms and evacuation of one of them, halting production of 6.2 MMcfd of natural gas (OGJ Online, May 1, 2010).

Weather, which has had an effect on recent cleanup efforts, also played a role in Obama’s trip to the gulf coast. He flew into New Orleans and was driven to Venice where he made comments while standing in the rain outside a US Coast Guard office.

"BP is responsible for this leak,” Obama told reporters in Venice. “BP will be paying the bill."  He also said his administration has acted promptly to address the rig accident and resulting spill. A National Response Team involves 16 federal departments and agencies along with BP.

"From day one...we have prepared for the worst while we have hoped for the best,” Obama said.

BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said the US government leadership has been "excellent," and Hayward said he had reiterated his commitment to the White House "that BP will do anything and everything we can to stop the leak, attack the spill offshore, and protect the shorelines of the gulf coast."

Hayward said BP teams "are working hand in hand" with government oil spill response teams.

BP continued trying to stop the flow of oil at the blowout preventer and was attempting to use a new technology for dispersing oil at the seabed. It also is fabricating a subsea containment apparatus. In addition, BP plans to drill a relief well with the Transocean Development Driller III semisubmersible, which is on site. Cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Halliburton responds
Halliburton, one of several service providers on the Deepwater Horizon, said it is cooperating with investigations into the accident. Among various services, Halliburton provided cementing. Four Halliburton employees safely got off the rig.

“Halliburton continues to assist in efforts to identify the factors that may have lead up to the disaster, but it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues,” it said in an Apr. 30 news release.

Tests demonstrated the integrity of the production casing string before the accident, Halliburton said.

“Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours prior to the incident,” the company said. “The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications.”

At the time of the rig explosion and fire, well operations had not yet reached the point requiring the placement of the final cement plug that would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well, Halliburton said.

Spill recovery efforts
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appointed US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen as the National Incident Commander. Allen is working with Rear Adm. Mary Landry, the federal coordinator in Roberts, La.

“The inevitability of contact of the shoreline is really dependent on the weather,” Allen said during a May 1 news conference. “The fact of the matter is it’s likely to contact shore in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama at some point.” 

Allen said any estimate of the volume of leaking oil “is probably impossible at this time due to the depth of the water and our ability to try and assess that from remotely operated vehicles and video.”

He said he was concerned about the accumulation of oil on the water’s surface, noting the potential exists for the oil leak to continue for 45-90 days. One promising way to reduce the amount of oil reaching the surface is to apply chemical dispersants to the leaking riser pipe and wellhead.

“A test application was made, and it appeared visually to have an effect,” Allen said of subsurface application of dispersants. “We want to make sure by taking water samples and analyzing the impact of the dispersants that there’s not a deleterious effect on the ecosystem down there.”

He said the first priority is to stop the oil at the wellhead. “Second, we need to attack the oil that is there at sea with all means available,” such as skimming, dispersants, and burning the oil on the water’s surface.

Meanwhile, boom is being deployed to protect shorelines based on spill trajectories, he said.

“Finally, we need to recover and mitigate the impacted areas…. There are town hall meetings that have been held in southern Louisiana. We have elicited the aid of volunteer boatmen,” Allen said.

Military equipment assisting
The Department of Defense has provided two C-130 aircraft with Modular Aerial Spay Systems that can dispense the same chemical dispersants already being used by BP and federal responders.

A C-130 can cover 250-acres/flight with each aircraft capable of making up to three flights a day. Adm. Allen said he has asked the DOD for two more C130 aircraft.

The Navy is providing various oil pollution control equipment, including thousands of feet of inflatable boom with mooring equipment.

Federal authorities authorized mobilization of the Louisiana National Guard to help assist communities in the cleanup and removal of oil and to protect critical habitats from contamination. The government said BP is accountable for the National Guard deployment costs.

On May 2, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration restricted commercial and recreational fishing for a minimum of 10 days in federal waters largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. The closure was effective immediately.
Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com

Related Articles

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...

USGS: Water usage for fracturing varies widely across shale plays

07/01/2015 The volume of water required to hydraulically fracture wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national analysis and map of ...

Case for Keystone XL has grown stronger, TransCanada tells Kerry

06/30/2015 Canada is taking strong steps toward combating climate change, and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline crude oil pipeline remains in the US national ...

Forum extends study of subsea integrity

06/30/2015

Work by an industry forum called SURF IM Network, which studies oil and gas subsea integrity management, has been extended by 3 years.

Survey begins of collaboration on the UKCS

06/30/2015

Deloitte has begun a survey about collaboration in the oil and gas producing industry of the UK Continental Shelf.

Lytle named to Canada’s National Energy Board

06/30/2015

Murray Lytle has been appointed as a full-time member of Canada’s National Energy Board for a term of 7 years, effective July 6.

White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

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
Available Webcasts


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Wed, Oct 7, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.

register:WEBCAST


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

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