From a regular contributor
THE BEAR FACTS -EMERGENCY RESPONSE MAY TAKE TWO OR THREE MONTHS TO ARRIVE!
“The risk of a blowout or spill is always present when a well is drilled. The US government estimates the probability of such an event in Alaska at 75%. In many cases a relief well is the only way in which a blowout can be brought under control, especially if the well casing is breached. There is no “new technology” in existence that eliminates the risk of a blowout, or provides a guarantee that a blowout can be quickly brought under control if it occurs.
The requirement for “same season” relief well capabilities is intended to avoid a situation where a blowout occurs late in the season and continues unabated until the weather improves sufficiently to undertake well control operations in the following year. The time required to mobilise a second rig, drill a relief well, and kill a blowout may be 2-3 months or more. The “same season” relief well requirement therefore effectively shortens the summer drilling season to just a few weeks. If this requirement is enforced, exploration and development of the Arctic will be almost impossible. If this requirement is not enforced and Shell has a blowout which continues through the winter, the clean-up costs may far exceed Shell’s financial resources.
Unocal’s 1969 blowout in the Santa Barbara channel was the result of a casing breach, and required a relief well to bring the blowout under control. The legislation that resulted from Unocal’s blowout means that, even after nearly 50 years, the industry is still prohibited from drilling on much of the US offshore continental shelf.”