Congress eyes well blowout preventers – how timely!

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Lawmakers eager to prevent another oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — and prove to voters that they’re responding to the Deepwater Horizon disaster — are insisting on new standards for blowout preventers, a last line of defense against runaway wells.

Federal regulators at the Interior Department also are mulling new rules that could boost the chances the 450-ton safety devices would stop a blowout by shearing through pipe and cutting off the oil and natural gas.

The mandates aim to respond to vulnerabilities revealed when the five-story blowout preventer at BP’s doomed Macondo well failed to block an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico over 85 days.

But petroleum engineers warn that mandates for extra triggering mechanisms and more pipe-cutting rams might not have helped stop the oil at BP’s well, and industry officials say some proposed rules might require blowout preventers too big to fit on some drilling rigs.

These are engineer-parrots trundled out in their cages to perform before politicians who, in turn, can say “see – we tried to act responsibly; but, it’s too expensive a task!” Hogwash!

BP, TransOcean, Halliburton
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Oil and gas industry leaders want lawmakers and regulators to wait for a full investigation of why the preventer at BP’s well failed on April 20 before setting new rules that could trigger a top-to-bottom redesign of the devices. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard says the rush to regulate is tantamount to “going into surgery without a diagnosis…”

Invented nearly 90 years ago, blowout preventers, often called BOPs, are giant stacks of valves installed on top of land and sea wells to help maintain control during unexpected pressure changes. They play their most vital role in emergencies, when metal shear rams are triggered to slash through the drill pipe and casing…

The House voted last month to require the Interior Department to issue new regulations requiring a second set of blind shear rams on BOPs, along with redundant emergency backup control systems for remotely activating the devices whenever communications with the rig are severed. That could include $500,000 acoustic triggers already required by Brazil and Norway, though U.S. drilling experts have questioned their effectiveness.

Every greedy contractor on the Gulf of Mexico will now show up to testify before Congress about technology they say is too expensive and unnecessary.

Technology that has been in place on Norwegian deepwater rigs and working better than anything these creeps provided – since 1993.

One thought on “Congress eyes well blowout preventers – how timely!

  1. keaneo says:

    None of the oil companies owning North Sea rigs are going broke. By any stretch of the imagination.

    The time may have arrived for our corporate barons to invent some new lies to serve their interests. Or can they rest assured that between the sludge that passes for American political thought – and obedient servants in Congress – they didn’t worry, yet, about challenges to their fiefdom?

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