5/5/10 A common spin in the right wing coverage of BP's oil spill is a gleeful suggestion that the gulf blowout is Obama's Katrina.

In truth, culpability for the disaster can more accurately be laid at the Bush Administration's doorstep. For eight years, George Bush's presidency infected the oil industry's oversight agency, the Minerals Management Service, with a septic culture of corruption from which it has yet to recover. Oil patch alumnae in the White House encouraged agency personnel to engineer weakened safeguards that directly contributed to the gulf catastrophe.

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4/30/10 Concerns about the cementing process—and about whether rigs have enough safeguards to prevent blowouts—raise questions about whether the industry can safely drill in deep water and whether regulators are up to the task of monitoring them.

The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week.

A 2007 study by three U.S. Minerals Management Service officials found that cementing was a factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period. That was the single largest factor, ahead of equipment failure and pipe failure.

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5/1/10 Some Democrats, including two of New Jersey's congressmen and both of its senators, threatened Friday to pull their support if offshore drilling is included in the bill designed to curb emissions of pollution-causing gases blamed for global warming.

The bill aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and it also would expand domestic production of oil, natural gas and nuclear power.

Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, and the northern waters of Alaska. He also asked Congress to lift a drilling ban in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Florida beaches.

The proposal was not just designed to get the votes of Republicans, but also moderate Democrats such as Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who reiterated her support for offshore drilling this week.

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BP Says Stopgap Plan to Cap Well May Take Weeks; Weather Slows Effort to Limit Slick

5/1/10 Wall Street Journal

Engineers prepared to try containing the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well with giant underwater boxes and siphons, as seaside towns braced for landfall of a giant slick.

BP PLC, the oil giant that leased the rig whose sinking last week caused the disaster, has failed in efforts using unmanned submarines to activate a shutoff device on the undersea well.

A stopgap solution BP is planning—covering the well with containers and pumping the oil out—will take weeks to roll out and is untested at the one-mile depth of this well, however. BP said it would begin working this weekend on a permanent solution to the crisis, drilling a new hole to cut off the damaged well, but industry scientists said that could take months.

Industry scientists say the permanent solution is to close the entire well. To do that, they must drill another hole—through 13,000 feet of rock a mile under the ocean's floor—that will intercept the leaking well. They can then pump in cement to try to plug the leaks.

This operation will take up to three months and is highly complex; the drills must precisely hit the leaking well—which is just seven inches wide. When a well off the coast of Australia blew out last year, it took five attempts over 10 weeks to hit the old well and shut it down.
 

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