Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

BP Seeks Help From Other Oil Companies


MAY 1, 2010


BP PLC has asked for help from rival oil companies to deal with the oil spill rapidly approaching the Louisiana coastline, an admission that the British oil giant is running short of ideas for containing the looming environmental disaster.

The request comes with BP under increasing pressure from U.S. officials, who are ramping up their criticism of the company for failing to contain the slick, which could rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst spill in U.S. history.

Some companies have already proffered assistance. BP is implementing an idea suggested by Exxon Mobil Corp. to inject dispersants, a type of chemical capable of dissipating slicks, directly into the oil stream as it emerges from the well. Until now, BP has only been spraying the dispersants onto the oil from above.

The company said it had injected 3,000 gallons of the chemicals into the oil at source over a five-hour period and is evaluating the results. Royal Dutch Shell PLC has also pitched in. In a statement, it said it has “given BP access to subject-matter experts to help them resolve the situation.” Such experts included subsea engineers and specialists in dealing with oil spills, a spokesman said.

BP has defended its handling of the spill, saying it has mounted the biggest emergency oil spill response in the history of the oil industry. But officials are accusing it of not doing enough. Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, said this week that her agency was urging BP to “leverage additional assets to help lead the response in this effort.” “It is clear that after several unsuccessful attempts to secure the source of the leak, it is time for BP to supplement their current mobilization as the slick moves towards the shore.”

Local officials have also been critical. Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, said he had “concerns that BP’s resources are not adequate.” “I urge them to seek more help from the federal government and others,” he told reporters.

The request for help reflects growing desperation within BP. The company was initially sure it could deal with it offshore. But the subsea robots it deployed to the seabed failed to activate a device called a blowout preventer that would have closed off the well. BP has come up with an alternative—a dome to cover the well and siphon off the oil, but that could take weeks to install. It is also planning to drill a relief well to permanently isolate the leak, but that will take even longer.

“BP has called on expertise from other companies, including Exxon, Shell, Chevron and Anadarko to help it activate the blow out preventer and to offer technical support on other aspects of the response,” the company said in a statement. Anadarko is BP’s partner in the oil field known as Macondo which is where the Transocean rig caught fire and exploded last week, causing the release of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

“This isn’t a BP issue – this is an industry issue,” said Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, in an interview Thursday. He said the response to the spill and its aftermath had to be industry-wide.

The company has also asked for help from the U.S. Department of Defense, requesting better undersea imaging equipment and remotely operated vehicles or ROVs, the underwater robots that have been used to try and shut off the well. It wants to know whether the department has “better ROV capability than is available commercially,” the company said in a statement.

Write to Guy Chazan at [email protected]

WSJ ARTICLE and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

0 Comments on “BP Seeks Help From Other Oil Companies”

Leave a Comment

Comment Rules

  • Please show respect to the opinions of others no matter how seemingly far-fetched.
  • Abusive, foul language, and/or divisive comments may be deleted without notice.
  • Each blog member is allowed limited comments, as displayed above the comment box.
  • Comments must be limited to the number of words displayed above the comment box.
  • Please limit one comment after any comment posted per post.

%d bloggers like this: