01 May 2010

Oceanic Well Lacked Acoustic Switch Safety Control
Oceanic Well Lacked Acoustic Switch Safety Control

No one knows whether the omission of an automatic acoustic control switch for the blowout preventer could have initiated a successful shutdown of the oil flow, or not. But every party involved from Transocean to Halliburton to BP is likely to pay a significant cost for leaving it out.
The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.

...U.S. regulators don't mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn't have one. With the remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated.

The efficacy of the devices is unclear. Major offshore oil-well blowouts are rare, and it remained unclear Wednesday evening whether acoustic switches have ever been put to the test in a real-world accident. When wells do surge out of control, the primary shut-off systems almost always work. Remote control systems such as the acoustic switch, which have been tested in simulations, are intended as a last resort. _WSJ

Boston.com presents an oil spill photo lollapalooza

Informative audio clip interview with an actual crewmember on the Oceanic rig when it exploded:

Again, be sure to check out Anthony Watts' posting on the disaster

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