How could they ever have thought there *wouldn't* be an oil spill from that platform?

Not a debate, not a rant.

Please help me to understand how anyone ever could have come to the conclusion (as they were telling us early on) that there would not be an oil spill from the oil platform disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The CEO’s had to keep up the suspense long enough to cash in their stock options.

Wells are equipped with what’s know as a BOP, a Blow Out Preventer, early in the drilling process. The drill stem goes through the BOP which can close around it, or even crimp all the way through it, in the event of a gas kick and the start of a blowout. They’re remotely operated and I suppose there was an impression early in the disaster sequence that supression by the BOP had been successfully initiated.

With tens of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and other flammables on board it wasn’t for certain that the conflagration was being fueled by hydrocarbons from the reservoir (or high pressure gas pocket).

I hadn’t heard anything about “no oil spills”.

Certainly there have been a great many oil spills from drilling rigs in the Gulf in the past. It shouldn’t have been unexpected.

I realize this is a case of Monday Morning Quarterbacking or my Lamentable Ignorance, but couldn’t they make the well with self-closing valves near the point where it exits the ground? Or at least easily closed ports? What little I’ve heard about the mechanics says that they had a hard time getting robotic vehicles down there to close things. I would’ve thought things could be designed to be easy to close and, indeed, self-closing in the event of an emergency.

I’m assuming Cal posted just seconds after Lieu and got his questions answered.

The first reports I heard were that they believed the BOP had worked but weren’t sure due to the condition of the platform (burning out of control) and the inability to get any info from the equipment that would verify BOP had been accomplished.

Sort of. They assured us there was no leak. Then there was a small one. that was upgraded to 1000 barrels a day. Now it looks like 5K. And it will take several months to stop it. New Orleans can not be too happy with that.

New Orleans won’t be directly affected, as it’s not directly on the ocean. It’s the wetlands of the delta that will be worst off in Louisiana. The spill will make a beeline towards Biloxi and Mobile when the winds change.

GQ rule #2 says, “The purpose of General Questions is to get factual questions answered. In order to accomplish this we need the threads to stay on topic. We tolerate some joking, but that is generally acceptable only after the question has been answered. Please do not race to a thread to post that hilarious one-liner in response to the thread title, and don’t drive by just to drop in an anecdote that doesn’t answer the question.”

I wouldn’t have said anything if you had waited until a serious answer had been posted, but dropping your snide comments in as the first response to the OP is not allowed.

They’re still investigating why the BOP didn’t work. Another mechanism might help when the BOP fails, but:

More about the situation here. But detailed discussion might be Pit-worthy…

Some early reports I read/heard said the platform wasn’t even producing oil before the explosion, giving me the apparently false impression that they hadn’t drilled far enough down to get to oil yet.

Thanks, all. The BOP thing is exactly the piece of information I was missing.

Mods, as far as I’m concerned, this is asked and answered, feel free to close it up.

Your wish is my command.