x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gulf of Mexico spill prompts Adnoc to check safety levels

Abu Dhabi's oil company is reviewing its health and safety operations following the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in case of a similar accident here.

Black waves of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Black waves of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

ABU DHABI // The nation's oil company is reviewing its health and safety operations following the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to ensure it would be prepared if a similar accident happened here. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), which extracts most of the country's reserves, is also likely to learn more as it sends a team to help the spill 80km off the coast of Louisiana.

"Because of the Gulf of Mexico spill, the Supreme Petroleum Council of Adnoc has sent out a directorate for a closer look at the emergency plans to make sure that whatever they do have in place is enough and to doubly check that this doesn't happen here," said Dr Clarence Rodrigues, the health, safety and environment manager at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, a school financed and governed by Adnoc.

"They've always had a system in place, but with this being in the limelight they want a further check." On Tuesday, Seacor Environmental Services, an Abu Dhabi company, confirmed that it had signed a contract with Adnoc to send resources to help the clean-up operation in the Gulf of Mexico. "We clearly have lots of equipment ready to go, and it will help to get practice in dealing with this spill," said Dr Paul Rostron, the petroleum institute's assistant professor of chemistry.

There are a number of reasons why it is believed that the UAE could respond to an oil spill more effectively than has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, where the relief effort has taken more than three weeks and is expected to last a further nine. In the Gulf of Mexico, where the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers, drilling levels were around 1,500 metres. Drilling in the UAE is only done at 91 metres, a depth that is considered less dangerous.

Dr Rostron explained that in the UAE, the first response would likely be to go for a "controlled burn", because the oil produced here is lighter and boils easily. "Over there it's a heavier, thicker crude oil that doesn't burn so well," he said. @Email:asafdar@thenational.ae