Posts Tagged ‘oil spills’

Regulation & Environment: Reading into the big BP Macondo decision

Gary Gentile, in this week’s Oilgram News Column Regulation & Environment, looked at the lengthy decision by a federal judge in the big civil action surrounding the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

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BOEM chief leaves an agency much changed since he arrived

When Tommy Beaudreau arrived at the US Interior Department to oversee the reorganization of the Minerals Management Service in the wake of the Macondo disaster, he found an agency more focused on revenue than safety.

Offshore leasing in federal waters was bringing MMS more than $10 billion each year in rents and royalties, and Congress seemed to judge an MMS director’s job performance strictly on how much revenue new oil and gas leasing could bring in to government coffers, said Beaudreau.

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The wild Mary Sudik oil well was the Macondo of her day

On the fourth anniversary of the Macondo oil spill on April 20, 2010, it’s fitting to recall another historic out-of-control well in the early days of the oil patch: Oklahoma’s Wild Mary Sudik.

The well was named for a real woman who by all accounts was a humble and sensible human being. “Wild” described not the woman, but the well that blew out on her property on March 26, 1930, and flowed for 11 days before it was capped.

Wikipedia, using historical and newspaper accounts, including those of the Oklahoma Historical Society,  called the real Mary “modest.” It said she and her husband Vincent were Czech immigrants who bought a 160-acre dairy farm in 1904 and expanded it in 1924 to encompass the site of the future wild well. Because Mary signed the well lease first, wells on the property were named for her.

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Regulation & Environment: Crude-by-barge not as controversial as its rail counterpart

Almost anything that moves has been pressed into serving the transportation needs of the expanding US production profile. That includes barges. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, Herman Wang reviews the safety considerations that the crude-by-barge industry faces.

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Champagne, leaky tires and teen acne: the many metaphors of the BP oil spill trial

During the second phase of the BP trial now underway in  US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, the gushing stream of crude from the blown-out Macondo well in 2010 has been compared to exploding Champagne, air hissing from a leaky tire and oil squeezed from the pores on a teen-aged boy’s face.

The colorful metaphors employed by the attorneys in the case are an attempt to make understandable the incredibly complex fluid dynamics and physics at play during the 85 days that oil and natural gas leaked from the well. It is what needs to be done when the witnesses are top scientists, including Tom Hunter, who during his long career at the government’s Sandia National Laboratory looked after the health of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

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Lac-Megantic crash could be oil-by-rail’s Exxon Valdez

As the smoke clears (literally) in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, after a runaway train packed with crude oil tankers crashed July 6, the oil industry is coming to terms with a business that has perhaps grown too far too fast.

The Lac-Megantic accident is shining an unwelcome spotlight on the lack of regulatory oversight on oil by rail in both the US and Canada. The fact that the rail cars (which were being pulled by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway) that crashed and exploded were considered unfit to carry hazardous materials sharpens that focus.

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At the Wellhead: BP looks at Azeri project for what it hopes is big technology breakthrough

A project that’s still a few years away is going to be key for both BP and Azerbaijan. For the former, it’s going to be a significant test of a new technology; for the latter, it’s another step in trying to increase its hydrocarbons output. John Roberts discusses both goals in this week’s Oilgram News column, At The Wellhead.

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Regulation and Environment: Reviewing the safety record three years after Macondo

We just hit the three-year mark on the Macondo anniversary. In this week’s Regulation & Environment column from Oilgram News, Gary Gentile reviews the industry’s record on safety, and efforts to prevent another Macondo, since that time.

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‘Bolt jolt’ may have raised drilling industry concerns, but Wall Street eyebrows? Barely.

The lowly bolt is rarely considered an exciting or controversial subject.  We largely ignore them in the assumption they will do their job of fastening together two pieces of wood, steel, ceramic or other materials in our cars, homes and  equipment.

So when reports began to widely circulate last week that the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and separately also General Electric Oil & Gas, had asked drillers to inspect and replace any defective bolts used on GE-manufactured H-4 connectors, it seemed like potentially a Big Deal.  After all, we’re less than three years out from the US’ biggest marine oil spill which erupted from the BP-operated Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, and ensuring safe rigs and equipment has become the top priority of all operators there.

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Petrodollars: the Salazar legacy in fixing the dysfunctional MMS

With Ken Salazar leaving the US Department of the Interior, it’s time to look over his efforts to fix the problems in the former Minerals Management Service. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Petrodollars, Gary Gentile reviews the record.

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