It is interesting that the reporting of the spill has subtly shifted to using barrels instead of gallons. "5,000 barrels" sounds a lot better than "210,000 gallons," eh?
Doug Suttles, the Chief Operating officer of BP's Exploration and Production Division initially contradicted the Coast Guard's new estimate. But when pressed on ABC's Good Morning America, he rather dourly admitted that it may indeed be that high. And he should know - they certainly had some idea of the amount of oil in the "payzone" they were drilling into. You can see the interview here (after the obligatory commercial, of course) if the box below does not show a video.
Robin Roberts does her best to put Mr. Suttles on the spot. He tries to weasel on certain issues. For one thing, he is quick to say that the lease-block that the Deepwater Horizon was in (Mississippi Canyon 252) is owned by "BP and a few other companies." This is probably true, and those partner-companies are keeping a very low profile right now. When Roberts presses him on BP's responsibility for the leak, Suttles tries to directly deflect the blame by saying that Transocean owned and was operating the Deepwater Horizon - almost as if BP had little to do with the overall operation.
Drilling rigs have a device called a "blowout preventer" which is supposed to automatically close off a well in the event of an accident. While the Deepwater Horizon did employ such a device, it did not work in this case. Obvious questions will have to be asked.
Oddly, Suttles also claimed to not know anything about a remote-controlled "acoustic switch" that Roberts made mention of and which is required by other countries (not the U.S.). Wouldn't somebody like Suttles know about such things? But again, Suttles weaseled by saying that the rig had all of the required safety devices. He didn't add (but should have), "...required by the U.S. governing agencies, that is." HERE is an article in the Wall Street Journal that talks about the "acoustic switch."
You know that everyone and anyone with access to the media has to weigh-in on situations like this. Sure enough, Ron Gouget, the former oil spill response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has come out and said that the burning of oil on the surface should have started *much* earlier. Apparently, the burn plan was pre-approved for just such an eventuality. Gouget seems puzzled as to why the burning wasn't started until the oil slick had already started drifting northward with the wind. Read the article in the Mobile, Alabama PRESS REGISTER newspaper HERE.
This is all very interesting to those of us who live along the gulf coast and who are now looking forward to having our beaches befouled by crude oil. I don't know how bad it will be here in Pensacola - we may get lucky. But certainly the Louisiana coastline, and the beaches and barrier islands along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts are going to be..."impacted" as they say, no doubt about it.
Two final thoughts: 1) We can now be sure that any plan to drill for oil off the coast of Florida will surely be shot down. As ol' Bush the First used to say, "not at this juncture." (Or maybe he never actually used that phrase.) 2) In the coming weeks, I'm sure that there will be tourists who drive down to the gulf coast on their vacation and complain that the beaches are spoiled by oil. I wonder how many will note the irony?