Oil companies invest in quick response to deep-sea blowouts

Heavy oil flows through the current in Barataria Bay near Grand Isle, La.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: The British oil giant BP continues to deal with the effects of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Its rivals are learning valuable lessons, too. Four of the world's biggest oil companies have announced plans to spend a billion dollars to construct a rapid response unit. One that could quickly move in place to collect leaking oil. The BBC's Rebecca Singer reports for Marketplace.


Rebecca Singer: BP isn't the only one that would suffer as a result of stricter regulations on deepwater drilling. So Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips are committing a quarter of a billion dollars each to a system that could be up and running within 18 months. The plan involves building a floating system that could be quickly deployed to a future deep-sea blowout.

Victor Schum works for the energy consultants Purvin and Gertz. He says BP's experience has been a wake-up call:

Victor Schum: The oil companies certainly have learnt from it and they indeed in this incident demonstrated that the industry was not prepared and I think over the long haul the spending will be more than this $1 billion U.S.

Deepwater drilling has been temporarily halted in the U.S. by the Obama administration. And critics say the only reason the companies are doing this is to restore public confidence in the oil industry.

BP isn't included in the plans. The chief executive of Exxon said this was because they did not want to distract BP as it dealt with its current crisis.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer, reporting for Marketplace.

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