BP’s Atlantis: Will It Cause a Catastrophic Accident in the Gulf of Mexico?
Why does the Atlantis pose a serious,immediate and potentially irreparablethreat to the Gulf of Mexico’s marineenvironment, oil workers andcommunities?
BP has repeatedly skirted the law in developing the At-lantis project. BP’s own database from November 2008shows that it does not have the required engineeringcertification for 85 percent of the project’s subsea pipingand instrument diagrams and many of its safety shut-down systems’ logic diagrams. More than 6,000 docu-ments that should have required engineering approval— including those for pipelines, flowlines, wellheads,and other important systems — do not have the requiredengineering documentation. Over 95 percent of its subsea welding specifications have no final engineering approvaland undersea manifolds have already been leaking. Thissituation could lead to an unprecedented disaster in theGulf, because hurricanes create incredible stress on the welds that are critical for containing oil and gas underhigh pressure far beneath the surface of the ocean. Inter-nal BP documents characterize the situation as having thepotential for “catastrophic operator errors.”
Which federal agency is responsible forregulating offshore drilling and whyhasn’t it taken action?
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Mineral ManagementServices (MMS) is the primary federal agency responsiblefor ensuring that all aspects of oil, gas, leasing, explora-tion, development and production activities are conduct-ed safely. Unfortunately, the agency has not been respon-sive to concerns about the Atlantis. The project becameactive during the Bush Administration’s tenure and beganoperating in October 2007. See the Food & Water Watchletter to the agency on page 2.
What can I do?
Tell Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to launch animmediate investigation and, given the seriousness of thesituation, immediately suspend production at the Atlan-tis. Ask your member of Congress to call for oversighthearings on MMS regarding the regulation of the Atlantisand what role the Bush Administration played in allowingBP to operate the platform without proper safety docu-mentation. Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org/press formore information.
What is the Atlantis?
The Atlantis is the deepest moored semi-submersible oil and gas platform in the world. Located in “hurricane alley,”more than 150 miles off the coast of New Orleans at a water depth of more than 7,000 feet, the Atlantis weighs 58,700metric tons and has a production capacity of 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of gas a day. Accord-ing to Andy Inglis, BP’s chief executive of exploration and production, “the water depths and reservoir structure make Atlantis among the most technologically challenging developments undertaken by BP.”
A n u n n a m e d o i l p l a t f o r m . P h o t o b y V e e T E C / S t o c k . X c h n g