New Oil Siphon Designed for Deepwater Spills


"System will be adaptable to different blowout scenarios by 2012."

The senior manager of a project to build a more efficient system to contain oil in deep water said Wednesday that once built and tested, the cap-and-siphon contraption could be deployed and in use within weeks of a future well blowout.

Exxon Mobil's Lloyd Guillory said he is confident the never-before-attempted effort will be successful. He said the $1 billion system that isn't expected to be ready for use until early 2012 will be adaptable to different blowout scenarios.

Guillory commented during a break in a major oil spill conference in Florida that prevention is the real answer for the industry. He said if prevention is done right, the system would never have to be used.

Drawings of the proposed system show a cap and a series of undersea devices—including cables, a riser, a manifold and a piece of equipment that would pump dispersant. Lines would be hooked up to vessels on the surface.

The two-day Clean Gulf conference at a convention center in Tampa was billed as a look at lessons learned from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill, and an analysis of solutions for the future. In attendance were top officials from every Gulf state, the U.S. government, and the oil and gas industry.

Some local officials and seafood wholesalers in Louisiana complained that the industry-sponsored conference was short on concrete ways to handle future disasters and long on self-congratulation and criticism of the media. The show director for the event's organizer said in an e-mail to the AP that it was only natural for the event to have focused on what occurred in the past with respect to the Deepwater Horizon incident, but she maintained there was appropriate emphasis on prevention and preparedness for the future.

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