I used to like those Gulf coast beaches. Oh well! But the people in charge know better than us, and it’s all gonna be O-KAY!!!!
The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig, hired by oil giant BP PLC, last week.
BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” that as much as 5,000 barrels of oil a day may be leaking into the Gulf, up from original estimates of 1,000 barrels a day, matching calculations issued late Wednesday from federal investigators. Mr. Suttles said BP and government scientists have to estimate the flow based on what reaches the surface because there is no way to measure the oil pouring out on the seabed. The company also said it welcomes an offer of U.S. military help to get the spill under control.
The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives.
U.S. regulators don’t mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon didn’t have one. With a remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated.
The efficacy of the devices is unclear. Major offshore oil-well blowouts are rare, and it remained unclear Wednesday evening whether acoustic switches have ever been put to the test in a real-world accident. When wells do surge out of control, the primary shut-off systems almost always work. Remote control systems such as the acoustic switch, which have been tested in simulations, are intended as a last resort.
Nevertheless, regulators in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil, in effect require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993.