The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Oil Spill Response Expanding Daily

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 12, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill response has become so massive, and the activities aimed at pinpointing a cause have become so numerous, it's becoming increasingly difficult to mention everything in a single blog post.

Just imagine the enormity of the response on the water's surface where there is a huge fleet of vessels of all sizes; more than one million feet of boom; thousands of volunteers, many of whom are experts in wildlife and spill mitigation; members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and Navy; scientists, engineers, oil drilling personnel, and communicators--all of whom are doing their best to stop the oil, prevent environmental impacts, collect information and disseminate it to the public.

Below the surface, ROVs are gliding through the cold, dark water in extreme pressures to perform tasks impossible to accomplish with human hands. Today, the second and smaller containment dome sits on the seabed, having been lowered by a crane overnight.

dome2.jpg

This dome, called a top hat, will be positioned over the source of the leaking oil after it's properly configured to avoid the buildup of hydrates, the slushy gas and water mixture that clogged the larger containment dome. According to AP, crews plan to pump heated water and methanol into the smaller dome to prevent the ice from forming.

In Washington and Louisiana, government officials are asking questions and making decisions in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Yesterday, two Senate panels peppered representatives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton with queries about the likely cause of the explosions and fires, while Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency that oversees offshore energy development, would be split in two.

Sec. Salazar said the MMS's inspection, investigation and enforcement operations would be separated and independent from the agency's offshore leasing, revenue collection and permitting functions. API issued a statement saying, "Our industry's priority is to provide safe, technologically sound and environmentally responsible offshore operations and we remain committed to working with Secretary Salazar to achieve this goal."

Meanwhile in Kenner, Louisiana, the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Board held its first hearing into the circumstances surrounding the accident. Seven witnesses testified, including Capt. Alwin Landry, master of the supply boat Damon B. Bankston, which was near the Deepwater Horizon when the fire erupted.

Those who attended yesterday's session described it as professional, somber and emotional. It began with a moment of silence in remembrance of the 11 crew members who lost their lives. Today's witnesses include government maritime and energy experts.

Here are just some of the Web sites where information about the oil spill response is being posted:

Image Source: U.S. Coast Guard

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.