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Gulf Oil Spill

A blowout on April 20 led to huge fire and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

blowouts (explosions, followed by fire) are possible when wells are being drilled. The oil industry depends on technologically advanced equipments to deal with such eventualities. One way they do is to study with computer simulations. ‘If one tweaks one part of the equipment to make it stronger (to deal with the higher pressures, and greater temperature differential between the hot oil and the cold water), it can cause unforeseen problems with another system that interacts with it. In short technology is merely groping in the dark hoping the ground realities ever remain true to computer model.It is like a blind shooter who is the fastest draw may yet find his mark because of his speed. What we need to concern ourselves is that where one gets the problem licked it is more likely something else could go wrong from an area least expected.

The earliest oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico were in shallow waters near the coast. But as these wells have become depleted, it has been necessary to drill in ever-deeper waters. When one drills in deeper water, the challenges are greater–the pressures are greater, the temperature of the oil is higher, and the stresses on the metals involved are greater.

With such likely ‘environmental disaster scenario ‘one expects government agencies would be more vigilant to protect their green wealth,flora and fauna that could be wiped out by disasters.

In this case the government regulator downplayed environmental impact of spill.

In a 2007 the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service presented environmental impact statement for the Western and Central Planning Area Sales, which includes the Macondo Prospect where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded In the document which covers oil drilling leases from 2007-2012

Offshore oil spills resulting from a proposed action are not expected to damage significantly any wetlands along the Gulf Coast… Overall, impacts to wetland habitats from an oil spill associated with activities related to a proposed action would be expected to be low and temporary.” (emphases are provided by the writer of the Huffington Post. Ack:The Huffington Post-May 3,The Oil Drum report of April 28,2010 by Gail the Actuary)

benny thomas



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