BP Using 30 Year-Old Playbook in Responding to Oil Spill?

Rachel Maddow claims that a top kill type maneuver – pumping in cement and saltwater – was tried during the giant 1979 Ixtoc oil spill, but didn’t work.

Maddow also says:

  • The precursor to the same company operating the Deepwater Horizon drilling well – Transocean – operated the Ixtoc rig
  • The cause of both oil spills was the same: a malfunctioning blowout preventer
  • The location of the spill was the same: the Gulf
  • The sizes of both spills were massive
  • A “top hat” operation was attempted unsuccessfully. During the Ixtoc spill, it was named “Operation Sombrero”
  • Chemical dispersants derived from kerosene were used to try to hide the extent of both spills
  • A “junk shot” was tried in 1979, using steel balls (it didn’t work)

Indeed, nothing worked to stop the Ixtoc spill until the relief wells were completed … 10 months later.

In other words, as Maddow points out, the technology for drilling deeper has progressed, but the technology for stopping oil gushers hasn’t really improved one bit, because all of the funding has gone into drilling deeper, and none of the funding has gone into increasing safety.


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