I would like to start by saying that I do have some experience and knowledge about this topic. I had the opportunity of working in the offshore oilfield industry and also had a very unique experience working in oil spill response. I started my career as a commercial diver working in the Gulf of Mexico in 1983. I spent 7 years working in the oil patch as an offshore oilfield diver and then later worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Price William Sound Alaska in 1990.
The Deepwater Horizon, positioned off of the coast of Louisiana, went down in flames after several explosions led to the outbreak of a fire that could not be contained. The events started on Tuesday with a minor explosion, followed by a panic call and then a major explosion which set the rig ablaze. The fire raged on for more than a day before the rig sank into the sea. 126 workers were on-board the rig; 11 were killed with another 17 injured. The remaining crew managed to escape to safety.
The Deepwater Horizon a semi-submersible drilling unit capable of operating in harsh environments and water depths up to 8,000 ft. It was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries back in 2001 and holds the world record for drilling the deepest oil well in history at 35,055 feet.
The oil is a light crude, unlike heavy crude, which would be more dangerous to the environment. BP and Transocean have contracted Oceaneering International to assist in the capping of the oil well. Oceaneering has deployed robotic submarines (ROV's) to “activate the blowout preventer,” a 450-ton valve at the top of the oil well.
The command team will work closely with Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and NOAA to stay on top of the effect of the spill. Assets currently being used to respond to the incident include:
- - More than 1,000 personnel,
- - 14,654 gallons of dispersant have been used with another 119,734 gallons on stand by,
- - 21,340 feet of containment boom is place at the spill site,
- - 10 offshore response vessels,
- - 7 skimming boats,
- - 1,152 barrels/48,384 gallons of oily water have been collected
I will be keeping an eye on the progress of the cleanup and salvage of Deepwater Horizon. It will be an extremely hazardous and very technical operation. The Deepwater Horizon is insured for total loss coverage and for wreck removal, to the extent removal can be carried out and is required. The total insured value of the rig is $560 million.