BP points to innovations arising from gulf oil spill

BP, the government and an army of volunteers are fighting to contain and clean the millions of gallons of oil spewing from the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2010; 7:16 PM

A glossy "Lessons Learned" document released on Thursday by BP describes the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill as a valuable spur for innovation in containing future oil rig failures.

The 72-page document highlights new technologies, new work systems and a new spirit of collaboration that it says came out of the three-month-plus period when raw crude from the April 20 blowout flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

The report does not go into the corporate policies and oversights that might have played a role in the blowout and the company's initial, much-criticized response to the spill. BP has set aside more than $20 billion to pay for damages and faces numerous lawsuits and a criminal investigation.

The document says it is a "continuation of discussions with the [federal] Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in order to provide a preliminary outline of some of the important lessons learned in the course of responding to the explosion."

Among the outlined advances:

  • l "The proven capacity to engineer and construct closed systems allowing not only for the collection of hydrocarbons but also the control of flow and the introduction of well-control fluids." It is referring to the new way devised to control a blown-out well.
  • l "Safe simultaneous operation of a large number (16 or more) Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in close proximity to perform a wide range of novel interventions on open and closed containment systems. "
  • "Precise and effective application of dispersants driven by advanced surveillance technology and operational streamlining supported by a network of global experts. "
  • l "From source to shore, existing systems were evolved and expanded and new ones developed to advance work flow, improve coordination, focus efforts and manage risks. The adoption of these systems will ensure the ability to respond more rapidly at scale with a clear direction as to personnel, resource and organizational needs."

The BP report concludes: "We are sharing our lessons, experiences and advancements through various industry mechanisms, and we are looking forward to making response leaders and experts available for additional activities in this regard."

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