Closing the barn door after the oil’s out
Most of what I know about offshore drilling, I’ve learned in the last 10 days or so, thanks to BP (British Petroleum) and the news media. And I’ve already posted several times about BP and their current oil “spill” (more like a wide-open, gushing tap) in the Gulf of Mexico.
I have several questions for BP, all other companies drilling offshore, and whatever U.S. regulatory agencies are in charge:
Why aren’t there more fail-safe mechanisms on offshore wells? Sure, redundancies add expense, but compare that to the cost of the current event. I don’t know how many redundancies and backup systems are necessary, but obviously there weren’t enough on BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform. Since one blowout preventer on that well wasn’t enough, let’s require two per well.
BP is building a “dome” to lower onto the wellhead and capture the escaping oil. If this is a workable idea, why wasn’t such a dome already in place? Let’s require a permanent dome on every well, before and in anticipation of any possible leaks.
If floating booms are good for corralling oil slicks, why not require a permanent boom around every drilling platform? Why wait to deploy them until after the oil has spread and drifted well away from the platform and toward our coasts?
I’ve heard reports that there are caps on BP’s liability for damage from the current spill. Why? Why on earth should anyone other than BP be responsible for BP’s mess? There should be no caps, no limits. If BP goes bankrupt cleaning up the current spill, restoring the damaged environment, compensating the lost livelihoods, etc., so be it. And let it serve as an example to anyone else wanting to drill offshore. How utterly absurd to cap liability when the potential for damage exceeds any worst-case scenario.
There are lessons to be learned from this disaster, and once learned, they should be applied to every offshore well, present and future.
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