Friday, August 20, 2010

Vessels of Opportunity Wind Down

The National Incident Command, which includes the government and BP, prioritized sinking over skimming oil. While dispersant made the oil virtually unskimmable, the Command orchestrated a "large skimming" response via the Vessels of Opportunity program.

NIC Commander Thad Allen said on July 8:

Oil skimming in the Gulf started slowly, in part, because (we) needed time to sort out the capabilities of the hundreds of boats being signed up for BP's Vessels of Opportunity program.
Horse hockey! The spill started April 20. BP's emergency plans said it had the capacity to skim over 400,000 barrels per day. The company reduced that to 171,000 bpd after the spill.

From almost the get go, the government and BP decided to use dispersants on the sea floor. Skimming theater ramped up with Thad Allen's skimming tutorial, where he failed to present data on the responses daily skimming capability.

A look at the Vessels of Opportunity program shows any opportunity was short lived.

2,500 (July 8)
3,200 boats (July 15)
2,400 boats (July 22)
1,400 boats (August 1)

400 boats (August 19)
BP and the government sank the oil, while hiding its deadly impact. The oil industry plans to institutionalize a dispersant heavy response until high tech collection methods can be designed and implemented. Will they include a chapter on skimming theater? How many of those, with their life's work at risk, get a few weeks of acting pay?

Thad's next scene has BP retrieving the well's blowout preventer. It's BP's weapon in avoiding gross negligence charges (which would bring even more crippling fines). Does Thad have any surprises as the story continues? Might the second relief well turn into a production well to relieve pressure within the unstable Macando formation?

Update 9-15-10
: BP says almost 3,500 boats participated in the program. It's ending VOP in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. BP's Lessons Learned report cited nearly 5,000 boats in Vessels of Opportunity, while Thad Allen claimed 7,000. It turns out the government has problems with other numbers on the oil spew.

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