The federal government’s on site spill commander Thad Allen said in a statement today “Through a combination of sensors embedded in the drilling equipment and sophisticated instrumentation that is capable of sensing distance to the well casing, BP engineers and the federal science team have concluded that the Development Driller III relief well has intersected the Macondo well”.
Development Driller III is the name of the Transocean oil drilling platform that’s been drilling the relief well since shortly after the deadly April 20th blowout of the Macondo well occurred.
Now that the new relief well has intersected the bottom of the Macondo well some 2 miles below the ocean floor crews will be able to pump cement into the well’s outer ring “and complete the ‘bottom kill’ of the well,” Allen said.
It’s thought that the blown out well leaked over 200 million gallons of crude into the gulf waters until it was successfully capped in July.
BP has put $20 billion into an escrow account to pay for the cleanup and for liability claims made against it by numerous interested parties who have in some way had their lives affected and suffered economically by this event.
It’s estimated that about 50% of the oil spilled reached the surface. An August report said about 25% of that was either burned off or skimmed away into tankers. A further 25% has evaporated or otherwise dissolved.
Investigators are now looking at the bottom of the Gulf and in deep waters to determine how much oil there is lying on the bottom or floating in plumes.
Today BP did some finger pointing as to what caused the blow out on their deep well drilling platform in the gulf back in April. The blow out led to an explosion and fire killing 11 people and ultimately the sinking of the platform … which created the largest crude oil spill in U.S. history.
The man who has lost his job as BP CEO over this accident, Tony Hayward, delivered the report today which in summary says that the accident was a result of multiple failures in equipment and decision making.
He implicated both contractors Transocean and Haliburton who were working on the platform with BP as being responsible for some, or most of the failures.
Transocean immediately responded by slamming the report in a statement “This is a self-serving report that attempts to conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP’s fatally flawed well design. In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk,”.
BP has had other accidents in the past at their refineries and elsewhere where their safety procedures have been attacked as being inadequate in order to cut costs.
In the report Hayward denied that the well design BP insisted on using over the protests of its contractors was the cause of the accident. The BP investigation revealed that hydrocarbons did not leak into the well around the cemented casing due to a defective well design but instead got into the well through the bottom of the pipe.
It was the failure of the crew to monitor the hydrocarbon buildup properly and to take preventive action during a 40 minute period that allowed the explosive gases to reach the deck of the drilling platform which caused the blast. No mention here as to why the blow out preventer didn’t work.
BP has also been criticized by not monitoring well pressures itself from a centralized location like some other oil companies do so that dangerous gas levels can be detected before a blow out occurs .
As soon as the massive 350 ton blow out preventer reached the surface of the Gulf Saturday evening it was placed basically under house arrest by the U.S. government and will now under go a detailed inspection by an army of engineers and techie types. It’s considered to be a key piece of evidence investigators of the accident have been waiting to examine. BP has already done its own investigation into what happened and will make its report public shortly.
The 50 foot tall mechanical monster was placed on a ship that will take it ashore in Louisiana where the US. Department of Justice is conducting a probe into the actions of the preventer’s operator BP and other companies associated with the drilling of the well.
They will try to determine if there were any criminal acts or safety violations committed by the various parties that caused the blow out preventer to malfunction and allow an explosion and fire which eventually caused the huge drilling platform to sink and rupture piping creating an oil spill of millions of gallons in the Gulf. 11 people died in the April 20 mishap.
So far BP has had about 300 private lawsuits filed against it over the accident but no formal charges by the Department Of Justice … yet.
On Friday a new blow out preventer was installed to cap the damaged well and the U.S. government man on the scene Thad Allen said that the well although seemingly under control still had to have more concrete pumped into the bottom of it yet before it could be considered completely safe.