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The blowout that destroyed the oil rig 'Deepwater Horizon' and vaporised
eleven of its crew will continue to have major repercussions long after the flow
of oil is staunched.
If you think back to the 'Exxon Valdez' grounding and oil spill of twenty years ago,
you will recall the subsequent over reaction and witch hunt. Double hulled tankers and
"escort" tugs soon became de rigeur. Perhaps some more appropriate and more
rigorously enforced rules on crew fatigue and alcohol intake may have been less
expensive and more appropriate.
The ensuing hue and cry over the damage to wildlife was undoubtedly grossly
exaggerated. Many of the extreme green organisations have a fairly careless regard for
the truth. They inevitably take full advantage of the credulity of the general public
following an accident, and that is what it was, such as this.
I certainly don't wish to downplay the seriousness of the 'Deepwater Horizon'
disaster. I just want to highlight the American propensity for witch hunting and the
threats, and indeed, opportunities that will present themselves to the offshore service
and work boat sectors generally in the near future.
The aforementioned extreme greens and ambulance chasing American lawyers will
ensure that this accident remains at the forefront of the general news for years to come.
It is now, after all, America's biggest oil spill. I understand, however, that as we go to
press it is still not the biggest yet in the Gulf of Mexico! Not that it matters.
Anyway, what are the likely outcomes? The first is that the Obama government will
almost certainly reverse its recent relaxation of the rules on deepwater offshore oil and
gas development. That will harm purely domestic American operators but it will
probably be good for everyone else. Africa, Brazil, south-east Asia, the Gulf and Australia
look set for a boost.
It will probably also be a positive for more marginal onshore activities in America
and elsewhere. I have in mind coal seam gas and shale oil miners.
For ongoing offshore work there will be new rules, more complexity and greater
expense. Whatever the outcome of the enquiry into the 'Deepwater Horizon'
conflagration, there will almost certainly be a well deserved tightening up of safety
principles and practices.
New rules and standards will likely be introduced to regulate and control deep under
water technology. The vessels serving those activities will, almost inevitably, become
bigger and more complex. New technologies for cutting off oil or gas supply, that is taps
and valves, will soon be developed.
The vessels required for oil spill recovery and the equipment fitted to them are certain
to increase in size, seaworthiness and complexity. Now that we know the effects of a major
blow out or spill in deep water, the industry is going to need to be well prepared for the
next one. That will apply no matter whether it occurs in the United States or elsewhere.
Organisations such as the US Coast Guard and its equivalents elsewhere will soon to
be equipped with such equipment. Importantly, their personnel will also have to be
well trained to use it effectively.
Early reports indicate that the escape arrangements and life boat launching systems
on the 'Deepwater Horizon' were found wanting. As they appear to have been industry
standard equipment it seems inevitable there will be developments in that area.
Indeed, lifeboats and their launching arrangements have a long way to go, generally.
Hopefully, this tragedy will inspire a simpler, lighter, more effective and more reliable
It is certainly an ill wind that blows nobody any good. While you can only have the
utmost sympathy for the victims and their families and even for the animals and birds
of the US Gulf States, there will be winners to come out of this.
It is the American way to profit from adversity. Not only the ambulance chasing
lawyers will do well. I hear that there are more "carpet baggers" in New Orleans now
than at any time since the end of the Civil War.
This disaster will be a world changer indeed and certainly not only in a
Our May 2010 issue included a review of the Richardson Devine Marine-built, Incat
Crowther-designed 'Limitless' OSV / work boat. The sub-heading of the review should
have read "A new 28.7-metre work boat from RDM for Australia's Offshore Unlimited."
We apologise for any confusion and once more congratulate RDM and Incat Crowther.
In May 2010 we reviewed the vessels 'Sanad 1', 'Sanad 2' and 'Sanad 3' built by
India's Shoft Shipyard for the Oman Navy. To avoid confusion, Shoft has asked us to
point out that the builds were contracted to Shoft on a turnkey basis by Goa Shipyard
(GSL), which secured the original order and whose involvement as a principal in the
construction should have been acknowledged.
Our June 2010 issue included a review of the Woody Naiad 'Shearwater'. The review
includes some ambiguity regarding the current construction of four more of the same
Naiad design. These four vessels are in fact being built by Aurora Yachts Dalian in their
Dalian Development Zone shipyard for Dalian Port Authorities. We congratulate them
and wish them the recognition they deserve.
The BP blowout -- A world changer?
EDITORIAL JULY 2010
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