BP to Give Spill Response Evaluation

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 1, 2010

BP will submit Wednesday a report evaluating lessons learned in its response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, a company spokesman said.

The report won't cover the causes of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 men and triggered the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the spokesman said, as this will be covered by another BP internal report expected to be released later this month.

"This report focuses in particular upon the key equipment, facilities and planning tools that were successfully deployed in responding to the spill," BP said in a statement. "The purpose of this report is to assist BOEMRE in assessing the capabilities that are now available to respond to oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico region."

The report doesn't assess the adequacy of oil spill response capabilities the industry had in place before the incident, "nor does it provide a plan or proposal for how industry and government might respond to any future oil spill event," BP said.

BP provided some information on lessons learned during the spill response in a presentation to a forum investigating offshore drilling at Mobile, Ala., on Aug. 10. The presentation, which is posted on the BOEMRE website, said the industry is now better equipped to handle a large oil spill.

"We have gained significant knowledge in deepwater containment," said BP in the presentation. "These capabilities can form the basis of a future deepwater containment response."

In a section titled 'Benefit for the future,' BP said the spill response has resulted in greatly improved capacity in the Gulf of Mexico to identify oil slicks using satellite imagery and aerial photographs and rapidly deploy skimming vessels or aircraft to spray dispersant chemicals. In addition, burning oil on the surface of the water using special firebooms, which had only been done once in the U.S. prior to the Gulf of Mexico spill, is now a proven technique, BP said.

Both spraying of dispersant and controlled burning of oil have been criticized by environmental groups and some scientists, who fear these activities may also damage local ecosystems.

The presentation also said the broad response to the spill, using local fishermen and other boat owners to skim for oil and lay protective booms along the coastline, has established a deep pool of expertise that could be called on again in the future.

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