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Obama administration issuing new deepwater drilling ban

Posted by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM
  • 34 Replies


New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- The U.S. Interior Department said Monday it is issuing a new moratorium order in a second effort to block deepwater oil and natural gas projects.

The new moratorium is to "protect communities, coasts, and wildlife" while oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce the risks of blowouts and oil spills associated with deepwater drilling, the government said.

The ban will be in effect through November 30, 2010, or until Interior Secretary Ken Salazar determines that deepwater drilling operations can proceed safely.

"More than eighty days into the BP oil spill, a pause on deepwater drilling is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts, and wildlife from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose," Salazar said in a statement. "I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely."

He added, "I remain open to modifying the new deepwater drilling suspensions based on new information."

But Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana called the moratorium "unnecessary, ill-conceived and a second economic disaster for the Gulf Coast.


Video: Booming oil boom business

She spoke before a presidential commission, tasked with reviewing the response to the oil spill and the priorities going forward. Landrieu called the BP oil spill the "exception instead of the rule" and said the deepwater drilling moratorium will kill jobs.

The National Oil Spill Commission is holding meetings in New Orleans Monday and Tuesday.

Shallow water drilling activities can continue to move forward, under the Interior Department's order, if operators comply with all safety and environmental requirements. The department said that's because they don't present the same type or level of risks that deepwater drilling operations can, it said.

A previous six-month ban issued in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster was thrown out by a federal judge in New Orleans. Last week, a federal appeals panel rejected the government's request to overturn the lower court judge's decision.

Like the initial drilling ban, the new moratorium probably also will face stiff opposition from commercial interests in the Gulf region. Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer of the economic development group Greater New Orleans Inc., told the the National Oil Spill Commission, "Economically speaking, the BP oil spill is really a tale of two impacts: it's the impact of the oil spill itself and the impact from the moratorium on deepwater drilling."

The commission is a presidential panel tasked with investigating the Gulf oil gusher and making recommendations about the future of offshore drilling,

What's next
New containment cap that has a better fit is being placed over the well.

BP and U.S. officials will conduct a "well integrity test" to determine the pressure inside the well.

If it works, oil will stop flowing and oil collection via Q4000 and Helix Producer will cease. BP will then close in on the perforated pipe.

This process, which is still a temporary measure, might take up to 48 hours.

The first relief well BP plans to use to shut down the well is 5 feet away from the main well and 30 feet above the hoped-for intersection point.

The ban would prevent further deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico until officials determine what went wrong in the April 20 explosion and fire at an oil rig that led to oil gushing into the ocean 5,000 feet below the surface.

A new sealing cap could cover the breached well as early as Monday, the man in charge of the federal response team told CNN's "American Morning."

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday that once the cap is placed on the well, scientists will be able to gauge the pressure inside the well, then determine whether the cap is holding the oil in or if crews will need to continue siphoning up oil.

Crews were going through final checks Monday afternoon before installing the cap. Once it's installed, the next critical step is making sure there's no hydrate buildup, according to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles. He said testing the well's integrity could begin Tuesday, with a monitoring period that could take anywhere from six hours to two days.

While robots replace the old cap, crude is leaking out. Scientists estimate that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are spewing daily from BP's breached well.

But now, more of that gushing oil is being collected, Suttles added. He said the oil-gathering ship, the Helix Producer, began recovering oil from the ruptured well Monday. He said it should "ramp up to full capacity" in several days after two setbacks Sunday delayed its implementation.

Suttles blamed the delays on problems with a hydraulic system used to operate the valve and a leak in the methanol system. But he said the Helix Producer had only been set back less than a day and both issues had been resolved.

Now with the Helix Producer hooked up, between that ship and the Q4000, which is already active, crews should be able to collect up to 33,000 barrels of oil per day, Suttles said.

In the best-case scenario, the containment cap would have the ability to close down the valves and slowly contain all the oil, Allen said Monday. But if oil collection was still necessary, over the next two to three weeks, 60,000 to 80,000 barrels (2.52 million to 3.36 million gallons) a day could be collected as part of the containment process, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said Sunday. That's because the new containment cap would allow four collection ships to access the well, rather than the maximum of three allowed by the old cap, Allen said earlier.

Allen said Monday he has asked BP for plans on how to do "integrity" testing on the sealing cap and hopes the company will "move on that" later Monday to determine how to move forward. The testing could take 48 hours, Suttles said.

"What we are talking about now is containing the oil. That's far different than actually killing the well and plugging it with cement," Allen said. "We will need to do that, ultimately, but this will significantly improve our situation regarding the amount of oil coming to the surface while we finish the relief wells, which are the final solution."

The first relief well that BP plans to use to shut down the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is now 5 feet away from the main well and, at 17,840 feet deep, it's 30 feet above the hoped-for final casing point, Suttles said Monday. That's where BP will run additional tests, then aim for the final intersection point. Given the closeness to the target, he said that BP was estimating "kill" operations to shut down the main well could take place at the end of the month.

The second relief well, which has been drilled as a redundancy measure at the behest of the Obama administration, is now at 15,874 feet deep, Suttles said. He added that BP is going to stop drilling that well farther unless it ends up being needed.

"If the relief wells for whatever reason happen to fail, the other option we are working on how do we install what I will call a permanent collection system, which is where we're working on pipelines to other facilities," BP's senior vice president, Kent Wells, told the National Oil Spill Commission on Monday.

While response crews were hard at work over the weekend, seven members of the National Oil Spill Commission visited different areas of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil disaster ahead of their meetings in New Orleans. Committee co-chairman William K. Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, went to Gulfport, Mississippi, to talk with disaster victims and inspect recovery efforts.

The visits and meetings will help the presidential commission "begin to lay the groundwork for our efforts going forward, to determine what really to concentrate on and where to put our priorities and, very importantly, what the people most affected by all of this think about how effective the response has been," Reilly said.

Minutes after the commission's first public meeting Monday morning, a protester stood up and disrupted it. He was escorted out by security. A second protester, New Orleans environmental activist Kimberly Wolf, interrupted the meeting about 45 minutes later to question the responders' use of dispersants in the Gulf.

After Wolf was removed, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Peter Neffenger told the panel, "I understand that concern. I think that's shared by all. This is a very difficult trade-off," he said. "The use of dispersants is to avoid significant shoreline impact."

"In my opinion, they're using us as guinea pigs," Wolf said by phone after she had been ousted from the meeting room. "What's happening is people in the street don't know the name of the dispersant that's going to kill them."

Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation said to the panel. "Frankly, the Gulf is a big experiment station, now. And I think people are learning the dispersant pretty much keeps oil out of sight."

President Barack Obama established the bipartisan commission last month and gave members six months to investigate the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The panel will listen to public comments and official testimony from BP, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the recovery efforts.


http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/07/12/gulf.oil.disaster/index.html?section=cnn_latest

by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM
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Replies (1-10):
PamR
by Ruby Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 6:39 PM

good

candlegal
by Judy on Jul. 12, 2010 at 7:03 PM

I guess he doesn't care that 2 Judges have already told him no and/or how many jobs this will take out.

Redteux
by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 7:24 PM

 

Quote:

Salazar said in a statement. "I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely."


This statement caught my eye.

I was playing last night, and looking up all the survivalist and conspiracy blogs, just to see what they were saying.

And it was pretty much unanimous - whatever and whoever their sources are, those sources are saying that the seabed is cracking under the pressure, and that an explosion is inevitable.  Some say oil, others say methane, and still others just say "toxic substances", meaning they have no idea what's going to come out.

Now the Interior Secretary is admitting that evidence is mounting about a catastrophic blowout.

Say what you like about all the conspiracy-and-doomsday prophets, but I gotta wonder if the truth isn't somewhere buried in all the paranoia.  Like the saying goes . . . "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they really aren't out to get you."

Something's coming, and it ain't gonna be good . . . . .

Mom2Just1
by Platinum Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Awesome! I am glad he is taking a stand. 

Daisypath Anniversary tickers


Connor 3

hsteele
by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:51 PM

I guess you don't care about the damage that could take decades to repair, or the non oil related jobs that have been lost since the BP spill and will be lost if another spill occurs in other parts off the coast. But I guess oil related jobs are more important than other jobs. Oil companies have admitted and BP has demonstrated that they are unable to combat accidents like this. Until they can prove that if this were to happen again, the leak could be sealed off and this kind of destruction avoided there no permits should be given. ETA: its called opportunity cost analysis. Which option has the greatest cost, not just to jobs but in general. Which opportunity will give the biggest loss if not chosen. Am I making any sense? lol

Quoting candlegal:

I guess he doesn't care that 2 Judges have already told him no and/or how many jobs this will take out.


Warning: PMSing woman. May erupt suddenly, spit venom, "rip you a new one" etc. If you choose to ignore this warning, PMSing woman is not responsible for damage that may occur. Proceed at your own risk.

hsteele
by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:53 PM

I think that they should make the permits into a talent competition. Any oil company wanting to get a permit to drill in deep water has to come up with an idea to seal BPs leak that will actually work!! That would show that maybe if this were to ever happen to them, it wouldn't turn into this.

Mom2Just1
by Platinum Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 9:03 PM

I can agree with this!

Quoting hsteele:

I think that they should make the permits into a talent competition. Any oil company wanting to get a permit to drill in deep water has to come up with an idea to seal BPs leak that will actually work!! That would show that maybe if this were to ever happen to them, it wouldn't turn into this.


Daisypath Anniversary tickers


Connor 3

melissabilliot
by Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 10:35 PM


Quoting Mom2Just1:

Awesome! I am glad he is taking a stand. 


soooo...quick question...can my family and i come live with u...since him doing this is going to CRIPPLE the job industry on the gulf coast...this is the dumbest thing one of the worlds dumbest people could do.....i get that the oil spill is a terrible disater......but when was the last oil spill in the gulf.........its doesn't happen every day.........and they should make it safer not shut it down..........EVERY ONE i know somehow or someway works in the oil field.....i am guessing you are one of the people that elected the moron we now call president in the first place.....louisiana has shut this down twice and it will do it again....obama is a MORON......

Group Admin for Young Old School mamma's If your young and Like to keep the way you raise your kids old school then this group is for you...

Redteux
by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 10:39 PM


Quoting melissabilliot:

 

Quoting Mom2Just1:

Awesome! I am glad he is taking a stand. 


soooo...quick question...can my family and i come live with u...since him doing this is going to CRIPPLE the job industry on the gulf coast...this is the dumbest thing one of the worlds dumbest people could do.....i get that the oil spill is a terrible disater......but when was the last oil spill in the gulf.........its doesn't happen every day.........and they should make it safer not shut it down..........EVERY ONE i know somehow or someway works in the oil field.....i am guessing you are one of the people that elected the moron we now call president in the first place.....louisiana has shut this down twice and it will do it again....obama is a MORON......

Well, I didn't vote for him.

I'm Texan - I have family in the drilling business.

And I fully agree with the moratorium.

Seriously - this crap is killing us.  And we all know it.  It's more disturbing that so many people go along with this for a quick buck and some job security, rather than get down to business and come up with some viable energy alternatives.

Dear God - how much destruction does it take before we realize we need to change?

Friday
by HRH of MJ on Jul. 12, 2010 at 10:49 PM

 Good deal. If the oil companies can't handle accidents they shouldn't be given permits to begin with.

I'm still waiting for Obama and the Dems to do some serious work on pushing alternatives.

 


Thank God......it's Friday!!!

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