September 19, 2017

Leaking Gulf of Mexico BP oil well “effectively dead”

BP and the Obama administration will be hoping that pictures like this are confined to history.

The leaking BP oil well that spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for months following the April 11 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig has been finally sealed.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is the top federal official overseeing the clean-up said that the well was now “effectively dead”.

President Obama was understandably excited at the news. He said it was an “important milestone” and thanked all those who had “worked around the clock to respond to this crisis and ultimately complete this challenging but critical step to ensure that the well has stopped leaking forever”.

A temporary cap had sealed the oil flow in mid July while a relief well was dug. That well linked up with the ruptured well on Thursday, allowing workers to start pumping in the cement, removing the need for the cap and creating the permanent “kill”.

With one eye on mid-term elections Obama said his administration remained “committed to doing everything possible to make sure the Gulf Coast recovers fully from this disaster”.

Financially BP has taken a big hit with the disaster forcing them to set aside $20bn in a compensation fund. They have already spent $8bn on the clean-up operation.

In an industry where a billion dollars is regarded as small change, the cost to BP in the medium to long term is not a lot. The damage to their reputation will take a lot longer to be restored than their financial position.

The US government, BP and the rest of the major players will all want the oil spill story to fade from the headlines as quickly as possible. It is important that independent environmental groups and researchers continue to monitor the clean-up operation to ensure that government and corporate ‘spin doctors’ don’t bury the truth as deep as the Macondo Well that has been capped.

Recent research contradicts the deluge of ‘feel good’ stories coming from the authorities highlighting that there was an undersea plume of crude oil-based chemicals up to 200m high and 2km wide, extending 35km from the spill site.