The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Deepwater Horizon Hearings

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 11, 2010

Officials from BP, Transocean and Halliburton are on Capitol Hill today testifying about the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Saying it's inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the accident before the investigation is complete, BP America President and Chairman Lamar McKay outlined the company's ongoing efforts to cap the well at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this morning.

In this testimony, McKay explained that the company is:

  • Deploying biodegradable dispersants to break the oil into small droplets allowing for natural processes to degrade it.
  • Readying a "top hat" containment dome that can be placed over the worst leak. This dome is smaller than the first one lowered to the seabed a few days ago. Weighing just two tons, it will allow heat from the spilling oil to build up in the dome's interior and prevent the gas hydrates from forming and plugging the line transporting the oil to waiting vessels. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Planning a "top kill" effort, which uses a tube to force multi-sized particles into the blowout preventer to cap the well. This process has been used successfully worldwide but has not been attempted in 5,000 feet of water.

Tim Probert, president of Global Business Lines and Health, Safety and Environmental Officer at Halliburton, offered a description of the events that occurred immediately prior to the explosions and fire. Steven Newman, chief executive officer of Transocean Ltd., said his company has formed a team to investigate the cause of the accident, adding that it's "premature to reach definitive conclusions."

Hundreds of miles away from Washington, responders are continuing to battle the oil spill. The Unified Command reported at 8:00 a.m. Central time this morning:

  • More than 464 vessels were engaged in the response effort.
  • More than 1.4 million feet of boom had been deployed and more than 1.4 million feet is available.
  • Approximately 428,300 gallons of dispersants have been used and about 120,000 gallons are available.
  • Four ROVs are in use.
  • Approximately 13,000 people are involved in the response.
  • Fourteen staging areas had been established.

Information about the response is being posted regularly on Facebook. Information about the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing scheduled for this afternoon can be found here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.