BP, TransOcean Execs to Brief Senate Panels on Oil Spill

Executives from BP America and TransOcean Ltd. will appear before two Senate panels today to testify about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to a CNN report, members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee want to know about the precautions that were taken prior to the April 20 blast that spawned the oil spill and killed 11 crew members on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

The Energy and Natural Resources hearing is scheduled for this morning, while Environment and Public Works will convene this afternoon. BP America President Lamar McKay and TranOcean President Steven Newman are expected to testify before both. Senators from both committees will also hear from experts about the toll the oil spill could take on fishing, tourism and Gulf Coast economies, CNN said.

Meanwhile, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is getting closer to the Mississippi Delta. According to CNN, changing weather could push the slick into the Delta region and areas west of the river. So far, most of the slick has been centered in an area east of the environmentally fragile Mississippi Delta. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the Delta, as well as Breton Sound, the Chandeleur Islands and the mainland behind them could be impacted by today.

BP, which is responsible for the disaster, has had no luck stopping or slowing two underwater leaks. The stricken well continues to gush more than 200,000 gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

Over the weekend, BP had to abandon efforts to use a containment dome to cap the spill after ice-like crystals formed and clogged the structure. That has raised fears that the well could continue gushing for the next three months until a relief well can be completed to contain the flow.

BP is now preparing a smaller containment dome for the site that it plans to deploy this week.. It is hoped that the smaller size will prevent the formation of the ice that clogged the first structure. If it does work, however, it will not capture as much oil as the larger dome would have.

According to a Reuters report, BP is also planning to try and block the crude flow with a “junk shot,” in which materials including golf balls, knotted rope and shredded tires will be shot at high pressure into the well’s failed subsea blow-out preventer. It will be two weeks before that process is completed.

None of the techniques BP is trying have ever been used in such deep water – 5,000 feet. So it remains to be seen if any of them will be successful.

According to the Associated Press, at least 3.5 million gallons of crude oil have poured into the Gulf since the April blast. If it continues unabated, the spill will surpass the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster next month.

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