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EUROPE PAGE 3
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EUROPE PAGE 4
Sea Mar Shipping, Sealion, Siem Offshore, Simon Mokster, SMS, Solstad Offshore, Subsea7, TFDS, Telco, Trico, Varada, Viking Supply Ships, Vroon, World Wide Supply
S. ATLANTIC & CARRIBEAN
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INDIA
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NORTH AMERICA PAGE 1
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NORTH AMERICA PAGE 2
Trico Marine

FAR EAST & AUSTRALIA
Alam Maritim, Allied Marine, Britoil, CH Offshore, Go Offshore, Hallin, Huawei Offshore, IOS, Jaya Holdings, Mermaid Marine, NOR Offshore, Petra Perdana, Swire Pacific,
MED & MIDDLE EAST

Adams, Augusta, Augustea, Brodospas, EDT Offshore, Finarge Genova, Five Oceans Salvage, Mar Sol, MCT, Med Offshore, NJSC Chornomornaftogaz, Portosalvo, Remolques Maritimos, Seaways International, 

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FEATURES

DEEPWATER HORIZON

Deepwater Horizon - What Have we Done to Deserve This
Deepwater Horizon - After the BP Report
Deepwater Horizon - The Investigation
The Deepwater Horizon and the Late MMS.
The Deepwater Horizon - PR and Politics
The Deepwater Horizon - Forces at Work
The Deepwater Horizon - Where Are We Now?
ROVs, Risers and Mud
The Deepwater Horizon - Later
Something about the Deepwater Horizon Accident
Channelling the Oil Leak
Preventing Fires and Explosions on Offshore Installations

OTHER ACCIDENTS
The Costa Concordia Report
The Costa Concordia Grounding
The Loss of the Normand Rough
The Bourbon Dolphin Accident
The Loss of the Stevns Power
Another Marine Disaster
Something About the P36
The Cormorant Alpha Accident
The Loss of the Ocean Express

OPERATIONS
The Life of the Oil Mariner
Offshore Technology and the Kursk
The Sovereign Explorer and the Black Marlin

SAFETY
Safety Case Development
The ALARP Demonstration
PFEER, DCR and Verification
PFEER and the Dacon Scoop
Human Error and Heavy Weather Damage
Lifeboats & Offshore Installations
More about PFEER
The Offshore Safety Regime - Fit for the Next Decade
The Safety Case and its Future
Jigsaw
Collision Risk Management
Shuttle Tanker Collisions
A Good Prospect of Recovery

TECHNICAL
The History of the UT 704
The Peterhead Connection
Goodbye Kiss
Uses for New Ships
Supporting Deepwater Drilling
Jack-up Moving - An Overview
Seismic Surveying
Breaking the Ice
Tank Cleaning and the Environment
More about Mud Tank Cleaning
Datatrac
Tank Cleaning in 2004
Glossary of Terms

CREATIVE WRITING
An Unusual Investigation
Gaia and Oil Pollution
The True Price of Oil
Icebergs and Anchor-Handlers
Atlantic SOS
The Greatest Influence
How It Used to Be
Homemade Pizza
Goodbye Far Turbot
The Ship Manager
Running Aground
A Cook's Tale
Navigating the Channel
The Captain's Letter

GENERAL INTEREST
The Sealaunch Project
Ghost Ships of Hartlepool
Beam Him Up Scotty
Q790
The Bilbao OSV Conference

 



 

THE DEEPWATER HORIZON AND THE LATE MMS

16th July 2010. The other day I got an email which told me that BP was sorry for all the trouble they had caused, and that as a result I was going to be awarded $1,500,000 having been selected from all the holders of email addresses in the world. All I had to do as to contact an address in Malaysia. Meanwhile the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement has taken over from the Minerals Management Service, who have been generally dissed in Wikipedia to the point that the whole thing seems to be written by some-one with an agenda. The article claims that MMS employees had taken drugs and had sex with employees of the very companies they were supposed to be regulating. It sounds pretty alarming, and of course one sexual event does not make an orgy, no matter how you look at it. We should remember, as some sort of order may be coming into the process of shutting off the flow of oil, that the accident which resulted in the loss of the lives of eleven people, is not yet explained, despite the fact that the politicians in America are falling over themselves to enact legislation apparently to prevent a re-occurrence.

But things have generally been quiet for some time as BP and its subcontractors made some progress towards stemming the flow of the well. Readers of any of the reports on the events of the last couple of months will remember that initially Tony Hayward was saying that it was nothing to do with BP. It was all down to the ineffective BOP, and anyway not much oil was leaking. Many of us thought at the time that he must have been very poorly advised or else gone out on a lam all on his own. The relief wells have been initiated using the Development Driller III, and the Development Driller II, and today the first is only a few metres away from success. And here it may be necessary to divert from the main narrative a bit because I remember that the task I gave myself was to explain some of this stuff to the people who are not familiar with drilling operations. There are people on the internet predicting the end of the world as we know it, as the whole of the inside of the earth spews out through the hole in the Gulf of Mexico. It makes a good story but this is not the case. As a sort of emergency measure the operator tried a top kill, which was pumping mud (not that stuff to be found on river margins, but a heavy suspension of baryte in an oil-like fluid) into the well. But the pressure was too great, and the oil and gas being expelled, expelled the mud as well. The difference with the relief wells is that when one breaks through the casing - a miracle in itself - mud can be pumped in near the bottom of the well, and as it flows upwards the column gradually gains weight, until when it gets to the top there is enough weight to hold down the oil.

Meanwhile a new cap has been fitted to the stub above the BOP, and one presumes that this is connected to the Discoverer Enterprise. Since the change in the authorities from MMS to BOEM the information has become a bit hazy. We used to have a cap on the BOP and a manifold connected to the choke and kill lines, which were set up to access the well, and which were controlled from the semi-submersible Q4000. The Discoverer Enterprise was recovering oil  directly from the BOP and was storing it and them transferring it to a tug/barge combination and the Q4000 recovering oil from either the choke or the kill line and was burning it off. As part of the progress of the system a flexible riser (pipe to the uninitiated) has been connected to the other line either the choke or the kill line and is apparently connected to the Helix Producer - a well testing vessel. This recovery may be being offloaded into the dynamically positined tanker the Loch Rannoch, which was, when we were being offered more comprehensive information, on its way from the North Sea.

According to Admiral Thad Allen (Retiring according to Reuters) there is a fourth ship in there somewhere, possibly connected to the new cap which today 16th July is closed while the experts check the system. It seems possible that the idea of actually shutting off the well with this new cap had not occurred to anyone before, and one has to say, if it works why do anything else. What they are checking is whether there is any flow of oil from the casing into the substrata - a blowout which would not have any means of control at all. It's slowly slowly then, and if they detect that the oil is leaking away into the earth they will open all the valves again and continue to recover as much as possible to the ships on the surface. It seesm to me that it is nearly all over bar the shouting - but the shouting is going to go on for years.

Vic Gibson 16th July 2010.

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