By Jim Snyder - 05/07/10 12:41 PM EDT
But BP officials cautioned the operation had not been completed at such depths before. Spokesman David Nicholas said, “It's very complex and we can't guarantee it.”
* Rig workers describe accident on Deepwater Horizon
The Washington Post reports what it was like to be on the rig the night it exploded in fire. “The skies were clear and the seas calm on April 20. Boredom and loneliness were the primary concerns.”
Soon, though, a massive explosion would drive surviving workers to the edge of the platform, where some oil riggers jumped into Gulf waters out of fear for their lives.
In interviews with the Post, survivors, “describe the first moments simply in the terms of sensory terror: two deafening thuds, followed by chaos and confusion.”
* Is Minerals Management Service up to task of regulating oil industry?
The Wall Street Journal examines the regulatory agency charged with overseeing the oil industry, and questions whether its other mission, to spur domestic energy production, leaves regulators with an "inherent conflict of interest."
“The small U.S. agency that oversees offshore drilling doesn't write or implement most safety regulations, having gradually shifted such responsibilities to the oil industry itself for more than a decade.
“Instead, the Minerals Management Service—now caught up in the crisis of the Deepwater Horizon rig that for weeks has sent crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico—sets broad performance goals for the industry. Oil producers and drilling companies are then free to decide for themselves how to meet those goals, industry executives and former regulators say.”
The safety record of U.S. offshore drilling compares unfavorably, in terms of deaths and serious accidents, to other major oil-producing countries. Over the past five years, an offshore oil worker in the U.S. was more than four times as likely to be killed than a worker in European waters, and 23% more likely to sustain an injury, according to International Association of Drilling Contractors data, which is adjusted for man-hours worked.
Is there a “built-in conflict of interest”?
MMS “is supposed to be a watchdog that halts drilling when it spots unsafe behavior. But it is also supposed to promote energy independence and to generate government revenue from drilling on government lands, including the outer continental shelf,” from the Journal.
* Browner talks what spill means for climate bill
One theory holds that the spill makes it even less likely Congress will tackle the broad energy and climate bill because offshore drilling provisions intended to attract Republicans and Midwestern Democrats face greater opposition from the left.
But White House energy adviser Carol Browner told Bloomberg that the spill may spur Congress to act.
“This accident, this tragedy, is actually heightening people’s interest in energy in this country and in wanting a different energy plan,” Browner, President Barack Obama’s adviser on energy and climate change, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend.
Domestic oil production must be part of a new-energy economy, Browner said.
“What we want to do is make sure that we are producing domestic oil to the best of our ability under the safest conditions,” said Browner, who served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Bill Clinton.
Browner said she gives climate-change legislation a better than 50 percent chance of passing Congress this year.