May 11th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Gulf oil spill: Where things stand, what comes next

As congressional hearings into the massive oil spill growing in the Gulf of Mexico begin this morning, the troubles in the water keep on going.

The undersea oil well, following a drilling rig's April 20 explosion 50 miles off Louisiana's coast, is spewing up to 210,000 gallons of light sweet crude a day into the Gulf, officials say, and so far there's no answer in sight on how to fix it.

So we'll try to break down a couple of things for you and share what we do know.

So where do things stand?

The massive effort to cap the leak failed at the weekend, dashing high hopes that the four-story containment dome would solve the problem. However, before the effort began officials had cautioned that the risky operation had never been tried at such a depth.

To make matters worse a wind shift could push more oil from BP's Deepwaters Deepwater Horizon gusher into the Mississippi Delta and areas west of the river, which is "bad news for Louisiana," Gov. Bobby Jindal said. Louisiana has been mostly spared since the oil rig exploded April 20 and sank two days later about 50 miles off the southeast coast of Louisiana.

As the oil slick spreads, the threat to wildlife, the seafood and tourism industries and people's overall livelihood continues to grow.

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For restaurant owner Bob Pope, the oil slick represents a massive threat. And from someone who has been through Hurricane Katrina, he expects this may end up worse.

"With hurricanes, we know what to expect," Pope says. "They're either gonna be bad or worse, tear you up a little bit and go again. This can go any which way."

Everyone, he says, is waiting to see whether the oil slick ends up being an irritant to the community or "a devastating glob of something that just kills the area."

So what are the options now?

After the dome option failed BP is being forced to on to other options, including the use of a smaller chamber over the leak and shooting garbage into the gaping hole to try to plug the gusher.

The company also is considering placing a valve or a new blowout preventer on top of the existing one, which is not functioning, Suttles told CNN's "American Morning" program. As the name suggests, a blowout preventer is a device that is supposed to clamp shut over a leaking wellhead.

It is hard to get a feeling for how bad things are deep below the ocean surface - BP is keeping its own cap of sorts - on a video of the oil leak.

The only thing we do know is we will hopefully get some answers as to what caused the massive problem and how it can be fixed when executives face tough questioning from Congress, which we'll be carrying live.

Senators are expected to quiz officials about the precautions taken before the blast that set off the underwater gusher and the steps being taken to stop the spill. Experts also are expected to testify on the possible impact of the spill on fishing, tourism and local economies.

soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. mikey

    "It's disgusting how everything seems to be about money and not about life and helping one another."–hope4peace420

    Welcome to reality. Denying reality only leaves a void for irrational thought to seep in. Maybe if you looked at the situation along those lines, then you wouldn't have to assign blame in order to qualify your own ideology. Did you ever wonder where the lion's share of private charity organizations comes from? Probably people who you would label as 'rich' or 'greedy'..... Would it bother you to think that an oil company used it's 'dirty' money to fund a reputable charity?
    I doubt your blinders would allow you to see the true nature of our societal system and market based economy, Shooting from the hip definitely does not enhance your particular presentation.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Less Greed

    Some corporate shill posted:
    "Would it bother you to think that an oil company used it's 'dirty' money to fund a reputable charity?"

    "it's" is a contraction for "it is" hope that helps.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikey


    Some corporate shill posted:
    "Would it bother you to think that an oil company used it's 'dirty' money to fund a reputable charity?"

    "it's" is a contraction for "it is" hope that helps."–less greed

    Great job. You had to resort to one tiny grammatical error to make some point. Whatever that may be. I think I forgot a period in an earlier post too.

    I believe the current 'in' lingo would be to call your post "pedantic"

    May 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cytwo

    Is it possible to NUKE the well?

    Use a Hydrogen Bomb that emits little or no radiation at all.
    The Bomb would need to be placed in such a way so that the blast would cause the well to cave in on itself and thereby get all covered up.

    Back in the 50's and 60's Nukes of all sorts were detonated in the South Pacific waters and only for testing. Here, a single blast could be utilized to prevent further millions or billions of gallons or barrels of crude from continuously spilling into the Gulf and potentially wiping out its ECO system for decades. The oil reservoirs beneath the sea floor are to deep for themselves to be effected by any kind of bomb explosion and supposedly such operations already have been done in the past by the Soviets, successfully.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikey

    I'm here to give less greed and anyone else a chance to discount what I say. And I'm here to give y'all a chance to pick on my nearly flawless prose and rare wit....And grammatical errors. Not necessarily in that order evidently.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. obviousintellegence

    Pre-spill precautions
    In February 2009, BP filed a 52-page exploration and environmental impact plan with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Macondo well. The plan stated that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities", and that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected".

    Although the BP wellhead had a blowout preventer (BOP) installed, it was not fitted with additional remote-control or acoustically-activated triggers for use in case of an emergency requiring a rig to be evacuated: it did have a "deadman" switch designed to automatically cut the pipe and seal the well if communication from the rig is lost, but this switch did not activate. Both Norway and Brazil require the device on all offshore rigs, but when the Minerals Management Service considered requiring the remote device, a report commissioned by the agency, as well as drilling companies, questioned its cost (approximately $500,000) and effectiveness. In 2003 the agency ultimately determined that the device would not be required because rigs had other back-up systems to cut off a well.

    May 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mikey

    Hats off to obvious intelligence. Now THAT is a post worth reading. I'm not bound to any one outcome like many here. I'm just waiting for someone to inform me the way o.i.'s post has. Thank you Ma'am/Sir

    I hope you didn't paste that.

    May 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barbara

    BP should be calling on EVERY Engineering EXPERT in the world to solve this and solve it FAST!!! This could reverse the recovery of the US economy which will have a ripple effect around the WORLD!!!
    What about our beautiful country, all the wildlife and ecological systems it is destroying!
    STOP with the blame game and FIX IT NOW PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!!
    This is breaking my heart!


    May 11, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    watcha wanna talk abut now, mikey?

    May 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    all right everybody, nuthin to see hear, let's all pack up and go home. You heard Mikey, a far worse oil spill has happened 30 years ago, so no need to talk about what's going on now. Thanks for clearin that up mikey, guess I'll go mow the lawn now.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alf

    Many airplane accidents and we still flying... an incident is not an excuse to terminate an industry, way of life. The oil industry supports largely the world economies, until other technologies are supported and developed in the long run (30 maybe 50 years from now) we have full dependability on this industry.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    18 days: 20,748,000 gallons

    May 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. M. John Powell

    Why can't the people of the Gulf of Mexico use their heads. You have thousands of fidhing boats all along the coasatal plane that could be put to use to contain the oil spil.. If each boat was stationed along a significant length of flotation booms, they could cover a massive area. They could set up a secondary line of defence or a third if necessary. The oil company can pay each of the boat owners a fee for time on site. This method could solve two problems. It can protect the coast while at the same time giving the fishermen some income. The question remains will the Oil Companies recruit the Fishermen to do the job.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rockhound

    Sorry people, drilling is here to stay. We have no suitable replacement of energy, without oil our economy, lives and country would crumble at an unimaginable rate. Imagine an abrupt halt of all drilling (and subsequent halt of oil production), how would you get to work? How would you get your food? How would you take someone to the emergency room? Though this is a terrible example of what can happen in a worse case scenario we cannot stop drilling at this point. You want a different source of energy then create one, stop waiting for someone else to do it for you.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mikey's mom

    Mikey? are you playing on the pc again? you better get back outside and sell some boiled peanuts

    May 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
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