The US government has readily admitted that it does not have the skill of equipment to stop the oil rising from the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon rig. And, it is beginning to question whether BP plc (NYSE: BP) has any solutions at all. That leaves the possibility that the release of crude, which is variously estimated at 5,000 to 95,000 barrels a day, may go on indefinitely. BP said today that its total cost for the disaster was now $760 million.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told the press on Sunday he was “not completely” confident that BP knows what it’s doing. BP admitted over the weekend that it current capture device was not working as well as expected. That means that the amount of oils which is reaching the Louisiana coastline will rise. The amount of crude making its way into “The Loop”, a strong Gulf current that moves toward Florida will also increase.
BP is still trying to “top kill” the flow of oil by pushing mud down the leaking hole. If that does not work, it will drill adjacent wells into the ocean’s bottom, a process that could take several months.
BP and the government may actually be faced with a situation that they cannot solve. Other oil companies have offered aid, but it seems unlikely that they have technology better than BP’s. Iran has even offered to send help.
Reporters from the Washington bureau of the large McClathchy newspaper chain recently wrote a story entitled “Fear over Gulf oil spill: What happens if they can’t stop it?” That question, unimaginable just a week ago, has become more pertinent as each day that BP fails.
As hard has it may be to admit, the leak may be beyond the ability of technology to cure, and only the eventual exhaustion of the pressure from under the ocean’s floor will stop the spill from expanding.
Douglas A. McIntyre
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