"Oil Spill Worsens as Explosion Risk Delays Clean-Up"

"A dangerous oil spill off the far north coast of Western Australian will take at least seven weeks to clean up and cost the company that owns the drilling rig tens of millions of dollars.

PPTEP Australasia, a Thai company, also faces possible charges if it is found to have acted outside environmental approvals.

The company will bring in special equipment to cap the broken well as oil and gas continue to spew into the sea from the West Atlas rig, 250 kilometres off the Kimberley coast.

Experts say it could cost the company up to $20 million to bring the spill under control using a second rig brought in from Singapore because the risk of an explosive fire is so great it is too dangerous to send a team aboard.

The oil slick, which is estimated to be between eight and 15 kilometres long, is not expected to reach the mainland.

The company said yesterday that the second rig would drill a relief well near the existing well that it hopes will intersect with the broken wellhead so it can be capped with concrete."


Peter Ker, Nick Butterly, and Michael Bennett report for the Sydney Morning Herald August 24, 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009