Oil Spill Update: Hitch with Plugging Leak; Obama Extends Drilling Moratorium; Wildlife Deaths on the Rise; BP Saw Warning Signs

Oil Spill Update: Hitch with Plugging Leak; Obama Extends Drilling Moratorium; Wildlife Deaths on the Rise; BP Saw Warning Signs

Alisa Opar
Published: 05/27/2010
A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.
 
Once engineers are satisfied that it’s plugged, they plan to cement the well to permanently cap the flow. See the video above.
 
Obama extends offshore drilling moratorium
Today President Obama ordered an extended six-month moratorium on new permits for offshore oil and gas wells. He also suspended work on 33 exploratory wells being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico; halted Shell’s exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska slated to begin this summer; and cancelled lease sales in the Gulf and off Virginia’s coast.
 
Environmental groups that oppose offshore drilling applauded the decision. “The decision is testament to the Administration's pledge to proceed cautiously in sensitive frontier areas,” Mike Daulton, Audubon’s senior director of government relations said, referring to drilling in the Arctic. “This short-term reprieve must undoubtedly become long term protection”
 
The Obama administration, meanwhile, says that what’s needed is stricter regulations, not a permanent hold on offshore drilling. At a press conference today, President Obama said that he did not regret pushing to open up new areas to offshore drilling. “Where I was wrong was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”
 
“We’re not going to be able transition to clean-energy strategies right away,” Obama said. “Domestic oil production is an important part of our overall energy mix.”
 
During the six-month moratorium, a newly formed commission will determine what caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and new environmental and safety protections will be put in place.

BP saw warning signs before explosion
A May 25 memo by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce revealed that there were warning signs of that there were leaks 24 hours before the explosion. For the inquiry, the committee reviewed more than 105,000 pages of internal documents from BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron, and called company officials in to testify. In addition to warning signs that crude was escaping from the well, the memo highlights several concerns about the blowout preventer.
 
In its briefing to congressional committees, BP said that crews noticed unusual pressure and fluid readings that should have alerted them not to remove heavy drilling lubricants known from the well — a move that apparently allowed a sudden upwelling of gas that led to the explosion and sinking of the rig about 50 miles from the Louisiana coast.

Company executives and top drill hands on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig argued for hours about how to proceed before a BP official made the decision to remove heavy drilling fluid from the well and replace it with lighter weight seawater that was unable to prevent gas from surging to the surface and exploding.

 

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