Drilling Deep For Oil - Full Speed Ahead

The final report from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling was just recently submitted to President Obama. Will lessons be learned from this disaster?

The announcement today does not bode well. I fear that we will be paying for the BP oil spill for generations in ways well beyond financial losses. According to The New York Times Green blog: {bold added from my emphasis}

...signs are emerging every day that deepwater drilling is expanding around the world.

On Tuesday, Australia's resources and energy minister announced that BP had secured permits to drill in the Bight Basin in the south of the continent, the first to be issued in a frontier subbasin in over a decade. Australian news reports say that BP will undertake the most ambitious geological review in over a decade of an enormous area with depths ranging up to 13,000 feet below the ocean's surface. That is substantially deeper than the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, whose blowout last year caused the deaths of 11 rig workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil. Australia has announced that it will impose certain special conditions on BP to drill, but those were not immediately outlined.


Deepwater oil production has continued to accelerate from virtually no production in the 1980s to five million barrels a day in 2009, according to the International Energy Agency, based in Paris. Deepwater production is expected to double over the next couple of decades, analysts say.

With that in mind, the Noble Corporation announced on Wednesday that it had signed a contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries to construct two ultra-deepwater drill ships at a price of $605 million apiece. "We believe the fundamentals of the global ultra-deepwater market will continue to be strong in the decade ahead," David W. Williams, Noble's chairman, said in a statement.

If you'll forgive the colloquial use of texting language: OMG.

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So, what limits do you propose on deep-water drilling? Nothing beyond a certain depth? That seems to me both less practical and more risky than pushing to impose various kinds of procedural and engineering safeguards.

We have the technology to do this drilling safely. The US problem was (and still is) politics, specifically regulatory capture. Are Oz regulators susceptible to money, or coke, or hookers, like US regulators in the MMS? Permitting BP in particular looks bad. But it's also possible they have learned their lesson, and won't cut the corners they cut (repeatedly) in the Gulf of Mexico. Especially if they are being watched.

Thank you for your comment. Regarding your statement: "We have the technology to do this drilling safely" can you provide specific information, perhaps links, that support your assertion that deep water drilling is "safe"? Why did it take so long to cap the BP well?

Don't set up a strawman argument. I didn't say "deep water drilling is safe", I said we have the technology to do it safely. There are thousands of deep subsea completions that you never hear about because they work. It took so long to cap the well because it leaked around the multiple casings. They were not spaced or cemented properly. BP and the MMS were given multiple warnings about it, and ignored those warnings. Also, rubber from the seals in the BOP was found in the drilling debris, raising alarm among the crew that the BOP was damaged. Again, ignored by mgmt. & MMS. Finally, it took time to drill interception wells. In many countries, those wells must be pre-drilled. Do your homework!

OMG, indeed. I fear for the future.

We also have the science and technology to GET OFF THE OIL. This is a far more favorable approach considering our track record. Granted, it will take ingenuity and change. We have done it before! If not now, WHEN?? I cannot help but believe that in 100 years, if we're still around, people will look back on this generation and call us "fossil fools". And we are. Great article, Jeff. Keep spreading the word.

very very nice article. Thanks...

By BilgiSpot (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink