How BP's Gulf disaster could have been stopped in days

The oil industry shelled out tons of money figuring out how to drill in deep water. What it didn't do, though, is come up with a way to respond if things went south. We all saw how that worked out. Four big oil companies are now looking into leak-stopping hardware.

ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhilips and Royal Dutch Shell have joined together to create the Marine Well Containment Company (or MWC), which would be responsible for rapidly responding to deepwater leaks and getting them under control fast. (Read: not in three month's time.)

The equipment and vessels involved look a lot like the fleet that's been working in the Gulf all this time, including oil capture vessels and a cap to stop the leak at the source, so you can tell they've certainly learned from what's going on with BP. The companies say that the plan would be able to deal with a leak as far as 10,000 feet underwater and contain up to 100,000 barrels a day, which would would have been enough to stop BP's spillage, or at the very least operate at its depth from the get-go.

Below is the full image of the proposed plan (click on the image to make it larger):

Big-Oil-Deepsea-Leak-plan-02.jpg

The New York Times, via Fast Company

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