Friday, May 7, 2010

The industry is stepping up

The US oil and gas industry has mobilized dramatically in response to the Apr. 20 rig explosion and fire and subsequent crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asked industry leaders to put their best people to work on finding out what happened and why, and report their findings to him by the end of May.

“Our best minds are working hard on this. It’s unprecedented,” a source told me on May 6. “This reaches across companies and trade associations like never before, with frequent conference calls and consultations. We’re determined to give the secretary what he needs. The stakes are that high.”

Salazar and US President Barack H. Obama’s measured statements since the accident and spill are encouraging, the source said, adding: “We’re not expecting much initially from Congress. Several members are too busy posturing. The administration’s attitude is what matters at this stage. So far, it has been good.”

That same day, the National Ocean Industries Association outlined how its members are lending their resources in an equally unprecedented cooperative effort to stop the flow of crude oil into the gulf.

“Our member companies want answers as much as anyone as to the cause of this event, and we understand the offshore industry will be closely examined by the authorities at the state and national level,” NOIA President Randall B. Luthi said. “The members stand ready to cooperate and assist as aggressively as we are in the response and cleanup efforts.”

ExxonMobil has offered the use of a drilling rig as a staging base, two supply vessels, an underwater vehicle and support vessel and has provided experts to respond to BP’s request for technical advice on blowout preventers, dispersant injection, well construction and containment options, according to NOIA. Shell Oil supplied six oil spill response vehicles initially for fire-fighting and search and rescue efforts, as well as a dynamically positioned vessel with a remote operated vehicle, an EC135 helicopter, an ROV hot-stab panel, dispersant, technical experts, and use of its training and conference center in Robert, La., to the Unified Command for accommodations and press conferences. ConocoPhillips, which currently has no operations in the gulf, nevertheless responded favorably to BP’s request to possibly use an adjacent lease for a relief well, and made available spill response equipment, chartered helicopters, marine vessels, and a pair of shore bases in Louisiana.

NOIA noted that the Marine Spill Response Corp. has coordinated aircraft spraying dispersants, along with six smaller planes which act as spotters; has six OSRVs actively at work at the site and two more en route from Maine and New York; three ocean barges on-site to capture and store oil which the OSRVs skim up; six fast-response vehicles and more than 2,000 MSRC staff and supervisory personnel helping to supervise more than 1,000 contractors.

The association’s list of participating members also includes offshore drilling contractors which compete with Transocean Ltd., owner of the sunken semi-submersible rig; independent producers; workboat operators, and other marine service and equipment suppliers.

“Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment, and while there are risks associated with every industry, that risk can be significantly reduced and managed through careful consideration and evaluation,” said Luthi. “Our industry operates using incredible technology that rivals the space program. This technology and the unprecedented cooperation from NOIA member companies will be key to developing a solution that stops this accidental flow of oil into the gulf, and helps to restore the faith of the American public in the offshore industry.”


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May 12, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

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