WSJ: BP to begin testing on newly installed oil well cap

BP said Monday that it has successfully installed the new oil well cap, called the “Top Hat 10,” to try to stem the flow of oil that has been gushing out of a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico since April 20. The oil giant will begin integrity tests Tuesday to determine if any oil is flowing through the well casing.

If all goes according to plan, pipes connected to the new cap will then transfer the leaking oil onto nearby containment vessels. BP hopes that their latest containment strategy will recover all of the oil that is leaking from the well until work on relief wells is completed in August.

The sealing cap system also hasn’t been used before at the depths or conditions of the Deepwater Horizon, BP said, adding that the system’s “ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured.”

Since Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, at least 88 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf, according to federal estimates.

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Texas A&M News: Déjà vu: 1979 Oil Spill Like Today’s, But Took 10 Months To Cap

BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill is eerily reminiscent of an incident that happened 31 years ago when the Mexican well named Ixtoc 1 blew out. The oil spewed for 10 months, says a Texas A&M University oceanographer Norman Guinassa, who has more than 40 years of experience studying the Gulf of Mexico. It was not stopped until a relief well was completed.

Guinassa, says the Deepwater Horizon well and the Ixtoc are very similar events, particularly with regards to their failed efforts to contain the oil leaks.

Ixtoc exploded and the entire rig sank, just like Deepwater Horizon. The cause of the Ixtoc explosion was a failed blowout preventer, also like Deepwater Horizon.

Guinassa says, “There was failure after failure to cap the well, just like today.” But all of those failed attempts to cap Ixtoc were in only 160 feet of water. The exact same methods were used to cap the spill today but in 5,000 feet of water and they also failed.

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WSJ: Oil drilling should be resuming soon

The Obama administration announced yesterday that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service will be releasing new safety rules as early as Tuesday.

Since May, shallow water oil and gas drilling has been placed on hold pending the new regulations. There has been rising public outcry that delays in releasing the rules are impacting thousands of jobs.

The six-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling that was placed following the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion will remain.

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NY Times: Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead

At least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted since President Obama announced a moratorium on the issuance of new drilling permits for offshore oil wells and put an end to the controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The waivers are intended for minimal-risk projects, but waivers have been given to at least six drilling projects that are in deeper waters than the Deepwater Horizon rig and are therefore more dangerous.

Department of Interior officials explained why they granted the permits, saying that some of the projects are necessary for safety of the existing wellbore. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration classified some of the drilling types as being as hazardous as new well drilling.

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