Oil well bolts are failing on structures in the Gulf of Mexico and causing serious concern. Several flaws and snapped parts are being discovered and could end up leading to multiple oil spills if they can’t be fixed or replaced with working ones.
This is one of the biggest problems with the world’s crumbling infrastructure, as the structures built to keep electric, water, and oil pipelines working are showing signs of wear and erosion. Fixing these problems could be costly and shut down major metropolitan areas, resulting in bigger problems. Even the water crisis in Detroit, Michigan, wasn’t easily fixed without some huge issues.
The biggest problem with the oil well bolts failing is that if they can’t be dealt with soon, there could be a series of oil spills at the source that rival the Exxon Valdez in consequences. It will be costly to clean them up and replace the required parts, demand will rise, and oil shortages could lead to some of the highest gas prices the United States has seen in years.
— Kirk Spano (@KirkSpano) July 8, 2016
It could also be a major ecological and environmental disaster, as the Gulf of Mexico could be declared too dirty for civilian use. Sharing said gulf are several U.S. states, including Florida, which is already reporting flesh-eating bacteria in its warmer waters.
Massive bolts used to connect subsea oil equipment keep failing, prompting costly shutdowns and raising concerns. https://t.co/7PXWur7TLa
— Captivate (@Captivate) July 8, 2016
This could also be a positive for the electric automotive industry, as oil becomes too overpriced and rare to be usable for common transportation. This was an issue the country faced back in the 70s.
Oil drillers and regulators are racing to find a solution to the failing oil well bolts before a precious natural resource ends up leaking into the world’s waters. General Electric is feeling the sting as oil wells are being shut down over repeated structural issues and continues to try sending replacement parts where they are needed. They are working with the Interior Department to find a fix, while other part manufacturers, including National Oilwell Varco and Schlumberger, are also reporting flaws in their bolts.
Diamond Offshore has 30 oil rigs and has told investors they already had four unplanned shutdowns in June due to failing oil well bolts.
Associate Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Allyson Anderson Book said, “This is what we view as a very critical safety issue. If your smallest component fails, you can’t expect a sophisticated many-million-dollar piece of equipment [to hold fast and prevent a leak].”
So far, regulators have said that the faulty bolts haven’t resulted in any oil spills or leaks, but the rise in oil well bolts failing is a serious cause for concern.
New standards are expected to be put in place to increase the hardness in parts which have been corroding since 2003. By the end of 2017, all of the oil well bolts, failing or not, will be replaced to ensure prevention of economic and environmental disasters. The problem isn’t just in the Gulf of Mexico, as 23 off the coast of California and one in Alaska could also be at risk.
One other regulation that will be changed as a result of this emergency is in report procedures, which are said to currently only be necessary if specific criteria are met. One of these criteria is whether or not oil is already leaking into the water.
Oil companies will be pushing to upgrade regulations and replace failing oil well bolts before the problem becomes a disaster.
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