Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.
The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives…
U.S. regulators don’t mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn’t have one. With the remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated…
Nevertheless, regulators in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil, in effect require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993.
The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn’t needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.
What that means in plain and simple English is that the Oil Patch Boys bought enough politicians and bureaucrats to stop regulation.
The U.K., where BP is headquartered, doesn’t require the use of acoustic triggers.
An acoustic trigger costs about $500,000, industry officials said. The Deepwater Horizon had a replacement cost of about $560 million, and BP says it is spending $6 million a day to battle the oil spill…
RTFA. Lots of history, lots of detail. You do the math!
It’s been decades since I left the offshore oil drilling industry – but, I stay in touch with the tech. This is a drilling rig which could have had better safeguards. Industry payoffs made the difference.