University of Texas at Austin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Perspective on the Deepwater Horizon spill

Paul Bommer

Paul Bommer

No one yet knows what really happened to cause the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent release of millions of gallons of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico.

But Paul Bommer, a senior lecturer in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas, presented a good view of what might have gone wrong when he spoke May 18 at the “Oil in Troubled Waters” forum on causes and consequences of the spill. The university’s Energy Institute sponsored the discussion.

Click here for What happened on the rig, the video clip of Bommer’s explanation.

With the help of animation, he takes the viewer on a walk-through of how the well was put together and shows what might have gone wrong. If nothing else, the animation shows how the parts of the well were put together and how it was supposed to work.

Bommer’s presentation was the highlight of the forum (the animation was a plus), but the other experts had interesting things to say about the stock market reaction to the spill, the liability issues, the impact on Louisiana’s wetlands and how the complexities of deep drilling can’t be solved with typical engineering approaches.

Four other university experts talked about the spill at the forum. They (and links to clips of their remarks) are:

David Adelman, the Harry M. Reasoner Chair in Law at the School of Law
Legal liability issues

Dr. Tadeusz W. Patzek, chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
Where do we go from here?

Dr. Charles G. Groat, director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Programs
Oil spill impact on a fragile coast

Dr. Sheridan Titman, the Walter W. McAllister Centennial Chair in Financial Services
The message from the markets

See these sites for news coverage of the event:

Austin American-Statesman – UT academics talk about effect of Gulf oil spill – May 18
News 8 Austin – UT petroleum experts to study consequences of oil spill – May 18
KUT Radio – UT Panel Analyzes BP Oil Spill – May 18

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