Daily Archives: June 2, 2010

Ed Crooks is in Houston, so this week’s pod is presented by Fiona Harvey.

Kate Mackenzie

[NB: BP's live video feed is embedded in this post; earlier updates are below the fold. To help interpret the video feed, we recommend this technical update from BP and this post by 'Heading Out' on The Oil Drum.]

3.24pm BST (10.24am EDT, 9.24am CDT):

Reports of the diamond saw getting stuck while attempting to cut the riser have been attributed to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, national incident commander (from AP, via USA Today):

Allen said the goal is to free the saw and finish the cut later today.

2.53pm BST (9.53pm EDT, 8.53pm CDT)

MSNBC’s BreakingNews just a few minutes ago tweeted:

Coast Guard says saw has become stuck in riser pipe in latest effort to contain Gulf oil spill

[Update: Associated Press/CNBC running a snap saying essentially the same thing.]

If correct, this would explain why the focus has returned to the shears after the diamond saw appeared to stop part-way through cutting the riser.

2.41pm BST (9.41am EDT, 8.41am CDT):

It’s still not clear what the shears are doing and this will be our last update for at least a few hours. In the meantime, spillcam viewers should check out the links above the video at the top of this post. To help further with equipment-spotting, here are some photos from BP of the actual pieces of gear being used:

Shears:

Kate Mackenzie

Update: our latest post, with some of the material below and the live video feed embedded, is here.

BP’s live video feed is embedded again; updates are below. To make more sense of what you’re seeing, we recommend this technical update from BP and the latest post by ‘Heading Out’ on The Oil Drum.

Kate Mackenzie

With deepwater drilling suspended in the Gulf of Mexico (though existing production is allowed to continue), the distinction between traditional “deepwater” and the newer “ultradeep” is worth a look.

Macondo, where the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling, was just on the edge of “ultra-deepwater” threshold at 5,000 feet of water.  Drilling in waters deeper than this is a fairly new practice which has only emerged in the past few years, as this diagram from the EIA shows:

Kate Mackenzie

In May China revealed it was struggling to meet its energy intensity targets of reducing energy per unit of GDP by 20 per cent between 2005 and 2010; something the country’s leaders seemed rather embarassed about, particularly given that new carbon intensity commitments are a key part of their climate negotiating strategy.

At the time, we wondered what sort of measures that would translate into, to curb an actual increase in intensity in recent months. Well this week China’s central bank announced what looks to be a serious measure, declaring restrictions on loans to energy-intensive sectors.

But how ambitious really is this energy-intensive goal, and the more important commitment to reduce carbon intensity?

Kate Mackenzie

As with any catastrophe, the Gulf of Mexico oil leak has lead to a flurry of questions about what went wrong, and how it was allowed to happen — by the companies involved, the government, the public, or whoever. It’s sparked some interesting commentary on the nature of risk, linking the spill with other recent crises — and possible future ones. Why didn’t we/they take note of the risk, and take steps to avoid it?

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein had this to say:

The last few years have been an ongoing seminar on the reality of serious risk. Very bad things that look likely to happen eventually do happen. The financial crisis, the Massey coal-mine disaster, the Greek debt crisis, the BP oil spill.

It’s a good reason, he says, to pay attention to climate change warning: we’ve had plenty of warning now to listen to the experts when they warn of a serious risk.

David Leonhart in the New York Times Magazine similarly draws a link between the inability to reasonably predict both the risk of the rig explosion, and of that classic ‘black swan’ event, the subprime crisis:

Most of the people running Deepwater Horizon probably never had a rig explode on them. So they assumed it would not happen, at least not to them. Similarly, Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan liked to argue, not so long ago, that the national real estate market was not in a bubble because it had never been in one before.

The accelerating speed of innovation seems to be outstripping government regulators’ capacity to deal with risks, much less anticipate them.

We wonder, though, quite how direct a comparison can be drawn between say the events that led to the 2008 financial collapse and the risk of the more physical disaster of the failure.

Kate Mackenzie

- ‘Much of the criticism of Obama is both incoherent and unfair

- The US auto and highway building industries ensure overweighted fossil fuel consumption

- The government ‘rock star’ in charge of the oil spill

- The oil spill isn’t helping renewables

- Commodities uncertainty: embrace it

Kate Mackenzie

- Pressure grows on BP as it tries fresh plug bid - FT

- US launches criminal probe over oil spill - FT

- Oil spotted about 9 miles off Florida coast - AP

- US fights Transocean’s bid to limit liability – Reuters

- Curbs ordered on Chinese lending to energy-intensive industries - Xinhua

- EU plans green taxes to cut debt - The Telegraph

- China to offer subsidies on green cars – FT

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