BP oil spill update: Smooth sailing for 'top kill,' MMS director ousted
Even after the leaking well is permanently sealed, the Deepwater Horizon drama won't be anywhere near over. Just in Thursday's BP oil spill update, the MMS director is out, the spill is resized, and hearings proliferate on Capitol Hill.
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Some critics, including former Bush strategist Karl Rove, has called the BP spill "Obama's Katrina," citing inadequacies and failures in Washington's response.Skip to next paragraph
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"What I'm spending my time thinking about is, how do we solve the problem," Mr. Obama said in his defense Thursday. "I'm confident people are going to look back and say this adminstration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis."
Going forward, oil companies themselves are likely to see their insurance premiums go from $2 million a year to $5 million per rig. That's significant, but probably won't curb exploration plans. Lawsuits are also already piling up and could take decades to resolve. "This is going to be the Trial Lawyer Full Employment Act for the next few years," says Robert Bryce, an energy expert at the Manhattan Institute.
Not 'a game-changer' for oil's future
The top kill plan, unprecedented at 5,000 feet of water, was cobbled together in what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called a kind of Apollo 13 operation in which government scientists and oil industry engineers brainstormed solutions at a Houston operations center. Even if the top kill were yet to fail, what's being learned in that room will rewrite the deep-water spill response manual.
"The industry as a whole will learn a lot from this, and ultimately that will probably be a good thing," says Bryce. "But it's not a game-changer. It doesn't change the law of thermodynamics or the tyranny of big numbers. The most important thing to remember is that, as bad as all this has been, the offshore oil and gas industry is not going to slow down [drilling in deep water offshore], because that's where the non-OPEC resources are."
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