An expert’s opinion on the Gulf of Mexico spill, reactions.

“shelburn, who is a retired manager for an offshore underwater service company” in The Oil Drum:

For those who are appalled that BP had no contingency plans in case of a spill, perhaps you think the skimmer vessels, the miles and miles of inflatable boom, and the couple hundred trained oil spill control personnel that you see on TV just materialized out of thin air. In fact, they have been on standby for a couple decades. They train, work on small spills, and prepare for disaster. As Rockman says: think of them as a fire department, paid for by the oil companies, under requirements of the US government.

For those who are appalled by the lack of government response, consider that the US Coast Guard was underway in minutes after the blow out, and their spill response personnel (as well as the teams and equipment from the oil industry) were already onsite, standing by, before the rig sank.

For a week after the initial incident, from the blowout April 20 until April 28, things weren’t going well. The BOP was still leaking, and the weather was slowing recovery operations, but it is fair to say that the incident was reasonably “under control”. There was no need for Obama to get directly involved, mobilize the Dept of Defense, etc.

On April 29, everything started falling apart–a true worst case scenario. That morning, it was obvious the leakage from the BOP had increased dramatically. Even worse, the weather changed and strong offshore winds start moving the oil directly toward some of the most sensitive barrier islands in Louisiana. Not only did the wind change direction, but by evening, it also increased to the point it effectively shut down all skimming and recovery operations and most boom deployments.

The media, which had had only superficial coverage up to this point, got heavily involved and disseminated a great deal of technical information that was just plain incorrect.

There is a certainly an expectation that someone may be to blame for the uncontrolled blow out with its loss of life, and potential for extreme environmental and economic damage. But, it is my opinion, with some understanding of the complexities and technical and operational challenges involved, that both the oil industry and the government operational people have responded to the incident quickly and professionally. I wish I could say the same for the media, the politicians and the bloggers.

via the Browser.