May 20, 2010
AC 360 “Keeping Them Honest” segment – Anderson Cooper speaks with BP managing director BOB DUDLEY.
Main points of contention: release of video for flow analysis – BP says 5K (getting 3K out through pipe to ship) – PROF WERELEY says more like 70K, access to LIVE video feed (here) and choice of dispersant (possible connection to BP exec). AC ridiculousness: Tony Hayward going home for his 54th birthday.
FULL TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS
COOPER INTRO: BP in the meantime pointing to progress, now claiming they’re siphoning off 3,000 barrels of oil a day directly from the leak, up from 1,000 earlier this week. However, the company is still maintaining there’s only a total of 5,000 barrels actually leaking everyday. For the first time tonight, you’ll be able to hear it directly from the top of BP.
COOPER: Joining us now is BP managing director, Bob Dudley. Thanks so much for being with us. Mr. Dudley, a number of scientists and engineers have estimated that the actual amount of oil gushing into the Gulf everyday is somewhere between 20,000 barrels a day and 70,000 barrels. Your company continues — and the government continues — to use this 5,000-barrels a day figure which is really a three-week-old estimate made from satellite images by NOAA. Why are you still using that figure?
BOB DUDLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BP: Because it looks like the best estimate from the surface response and the plume that we see at the base of the well itself.
COOPER: Have you actually measured the plume?
DUDLEY: Anderson, this is — this is — it is similar to taking a soda can and shaking it up and popping it off. There’s a tremendous amount of gas in this crude oil. So measuring that is difficult and we have a whole set of activities that are going on underneath the sea almost underground architecture to contain the spill at one end of a pipe that’s laying over from the well head as well as the work that we’re doing on the blowout preventers.
With the estimate itself — appears to be a reasonable estimate. It’s not exact. That’s what we see at the surface. I think figures of 70,000 barrels — I even heard a figure today of 100,000 barrels a day which is very alarmist. And in reality, we’re containing it at the surface. We’re now producing about 3,000 barrels a day in the surface. There’s been a noticeable reduction in that plume.
COOPER: But your own people have called the 5,000-barrels-a-day figure highly uncertain, highly imprecise — and that’s from your own people. And your company has repeatedly said that you can’t measure the amount flowing out of the broken pipe.
But according to numerous independent scientists and engineers, that’s simply not true.
I want to read something from “The New York Times.” they said, and I quote, “For decades, specialist have used a technique that was almost tailor-made for the problem with undersea gear that resembles the ultrasound machines in medical offices. They measure the flow rate from hot water vents on the ocean floor. Scientists said that such equipment could be tuned to allow for accurate measurement of oil and gas flowing from the well.“
And according to “The Times,” BP was talking to two researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and was going to have them fly out and then told them not to come out after all; they were going to conduct volume measurements.
DUDLEY: Anderson, we’ve got a small city going on a mile and a half down below with between 10 and 12 robots that are manipulating the blowout preventers nearby and the work that we’ve been doing to design the containment systems. So we’ve had a whole set of parallel engineering tracks in place.
That’s what we need to be deploying the resources on is shutting that well as well as controlling it. It’s a very difficult flow rate to measure using those techniques with a gas-oil ratio of 5,000-1 right now.
It is, again, that soda can analogy is not far off and that’s what we’re seeing now when we produce to the surface — 3,000 barrels a day, 13 million cubic feet of gas along with it. It’s a very gassy substance.
COOPER: But you had people — I mean Steven Wereley of Purdue University, a Mechanical Engineering Associate professor, you know, who’s an expert in computational particle tracking you know, has measured just from the little bit of video that’s been released so far, he came up with this 50,000 to 70,000 barrels leaking everyday.
If you’d release more video, I mean why not allow people to extensively study, you know, the video that’s been released? Tim Crohn (ph) of Columbia has come up with other figures; others at Berkeley have as well.
DUDLEY: We’ve — we’ve released the video feeds all over the place. Not only through the Unified Coast Guard Command Center but we’ve sent it in to Congress. There are people looking at the plume.
COOPER: Wait a minute, wait a minute. It took 23 days for you to release a 30-second video clip and that came only after pressure from the White House and the media.
DUDLEY: I think we have — we have provided information in all directions through this. We have nothing to hide. In fact –
COOPER: But why did it take 23 days to release a 30-second clip of video. I know today you’re going to be releasing a lot more video but that’s only after pressure from senators and congress people this week.
DUDLEY: Anderson, I’m going to ask you to come down with your crews and visit the engineering center we have. You can see it. The feeds are going everywhere. What we have been focused on –
COOPER: Well — well, let me just stop there, because apparently when “ABC News” visited last week, or the week before you guys released the video, you turned off the feeds so they couldn’t see that there were feeds and it was only once information leaked out that there was a live feed and media started requesting it that you guys released it.
I’m just asking why did it take so long to release a 30-second video clip?
DUDLEY: I can’t tell you. I think we’ve been absolutely open. There have been streams of people who have come through the engineering command center in Houston and we’ve been streaming information to the Unified Command Center, which the Coast Guard leads in Robert, Louisiana.
Anderson the manifestation of the — the spill at the surface it doesn’t show anything like that. I saw some of the reports by the Perdue professor which was based on the velocity of the clouting coming out of the well. Again, I think he’s missed the fact that this is a highly gaseous well that’s coming out at the end of the pipe and that’s evidenced by them now containment that we have at the surface going on.
COOPER: Wait, I mean, he claims that he’s — his calculated for that but would like, you know further access to just long strings of video to be able to fine tune and hone. I mean, it’s just seems like if it takes three weeks to release the 30-clip of video.
You know, I mean, if you want this to be completely transparent, why not invite, you know experts to look and analyze and give them as much video as they need to analyze the velocity. You know, you guys have made statements saying that it doesn’t really matter how much is flowing out because it doesn’t impact you know your full court effort to clean it up.
And I have no doubt you’re making a full court effort to clean it up. But it doesn’t make sense to me to say that it doesn’t matter how much is flowing out. I mean, don’t the American people have the right to know how much oil is polluting the Gulf?
DUDLEY: Anderson, I believe that estimate is — is a rough estimate, it’s in the range and it’s based on L the data that we have is fine. What we don’t have time to do is stop and to experiments. We’ve got — again, an underground architecture down there; robot vehicles with umbilicals working on containing and then closing off the leak. This has been a constant effort down below.
COOPER: But I don’t think anyone is asking to stop your efforts, I mean, you know, there’s plenty of people who can — apparently experts who can look at video. I mean, why not allow them.
DUDLEY: All of that is available, all of that is available.
COOPER: Why cancel the people coming from Woods Hole Institute?
DUDLEY: I — I don’t know anything about that Anderson. I’m sure that the offshore logistics here — we’ve got four rigs offshore, we’ve got seven ships offshore there. There are planes working with the dispersements and we are trying to manage this, really an underground city or air traffic controller of the remote operated vehicles.
I don’t know anything about that, but that — that base is scarce, we have lots of visitors. We have a thousand people working on the Sub Sea Command Center in Houston. It works 24 hours a day, there’s 400 people in one center rotating overnight. We’ve got parallel tracks of engineering focused on containing it and shutting off the leak.
COOPER: Do you –
DUDLEY: It is the most important thing we’re focused on.
COOPER: Do you believe it is not important for the American public to know exactly how much oil is leaking out of that pipe?
DUDLEY: I think what we’re going to do, we’re producing into it now at 3,000 barrels a day. There’s been a noticeable reduction on that and what we see at the sub-surface. We’re going to shut it off and we’re going to clean it up.
COOPER: All right, great but –
DUDLEY: I don’t know what else you could ask for.
COOPER: But what I’m asking is do you think it’s important that the American people to know exactly how much oil is pouring into the Gulf.
DUDLEY: Anderson, I think there’s a lot of things that are important for people to know. The most primary thing is why those blowout preventers failed, that’s almost unthinkable in the oil and gas industry with the multiple redundancies that we have.
We need to get to the bottom of that through investigations. We all want to know what happened on the rig, why it happened and we want to know what we can learn from the spill response which has been actually very, very swift by the Coast Guard from moments after the spill.
We have managed to contain the oil offshore with the exceptions of some locations. And I’ve seen the footage today, which is very devastating, in the southeastern tip of Louisiana. We all want to clean it up and move on. We’ll do studies for long time about the amount of oil from the spill.
COOPER: We have a lot more to talk about. We’ll have more with Bob Dudley after the break.
And later, what makes some kids white and African-American biased towards lighter skin color? What makes others more color-blind? Some answers from our eye-opening pilot study on kids and race.
COOPER: “Keeping Them Honest” tonight, talking with BP managing director, Bob Dudley. Before the break, we were discussing the impact of all that oil leaking into Gulf of Mexico. Let’s pick up where we left off. Part two of our conversation, “Keeping Them Honest.”
COOPER: So you won’t be able to study how much oil was spilled unless you actually know how much is pouring out every day. I mean, there are scientists who are now saying, look, unless — unless you know how much is pouring out, it’s going to affect how future responses are done. That the response of this spill will become a model for future responses and if the modeling is all wrong, based on how much is actually pouring out, we’re going to get future spills wrong as well.
DUDLEY: Well, this spill — this is actually a leak so it’s different than a spill, which is something we’re going to learn from. We have responded to a spill and a leak really at a rate of a close to 100,000 barrels a day. And we’ve got boom, we’ve got one and a half million feet of boom around the coast.
The dispersants are injected, it’s dispersing the oil. The dispersant is doing what it’s designed to do, to break it down so that we can recover it. We had controlled burns on the surface today. The weather has been our friend offshore today. And what we — the natural process of the dispersants, break it down, small droplets of bacteria eat it. That — that’s what it’s designed to do.
And I think we’re making progress on that, although I have to say, I’m devastated by some of the sites today we saw. We’ve cleaned up the beaches in Louisiana but there is oil in portions of the marsh down there.
COOPER: I’m still, you know, we didn’t get an answer as to why it took 23 days to released video which guys had accessed to. But CNN has now learned that you’ve agreed to provide access to the — the 24- hour live feed that you have of the leak to Barbara Boxer, Senate Committee. You’re giving it to the committee. Why not allow Americans to see that — to see that 24-hour feed that your executives are seeing all day long?
DUDLEY: Anderson, we’ve given that feed through the — the Coast Guard command centers. We can’t really give the feed without an approval from the Coast Guard and the government. We’ve — we’ve given those feeds to multiple parties. I don’t know exactly who they all are. But it’s not only Barbara Boxer, there’s other feeds into the Interior Department and the Department of Energy, I’m sure who have been very helpful with us.
COOPER: Well, actually I mean, Barbara Boxer wrote a letter to your company and today — said, that you guys are basically said that to their committee that it was up to the Unified Command, that it wasn’t just your decision.
But she seems to contradict that. She said and I’m quoting from this letter that she sent you two days ago. She’s says, “We’re writing to reiterate our request that BP provide us with all video records of the DeepWater Horizon Well associated spill. After our initial request, BP suggested the video is released under the authorization of the Unified Command. We have contacted the Unified Command and to date have not identified any restriction on BP’s ability to release these records.”
So you’re saying essentially, you guys are free to release the video as you wish, so why not release this to the American people so they can watch this thing 24 hours a day, if they want?
DUDLEY: Well, I’m not sure. I think we have, Anderson. I don’t know exactly where it’s all going, but we’re not hiding anything from this. Again, we — this is not a leak on the bottom that we’re watching, we have a complex system of robots around it with umbilicals down there. We’re not stopping to go through a process of measuring it. We are trying to contain it first and then we want –
COOPER: But you do have a live feed of watching it?
DUDLEY: We do in the Command Center. It’s not all the time, it depends on the location of the robots but we have a feed on it.
COOPER: Ok. And you don’t know why that wouldn’t be released to the American public?
DUDLEY: Well, Anderson, we have had — we are working under a Unified Command structure that is led by the U.S. Coast Guard in Robert, Louisiana and so BP is not going to do anything that is outside of that command structure. If the command structure agrees we release it, we release it as we have.
COOPER: Well, ok, no — you haven’t released it to the American public and again, Barbara Boxer says it’s really up to BP but I’ll move on. I want to ask you about the dispersants that you’re putting into the Gulf. Is it correct to say that no one has ever dumped for this amount of dispersants before and not just on the surface but underneath the surface?
DUDLEY: I don’t know. This is the dispersant that’s been used in the Gulf of Mexico for — for more than 20 years. It’s the preferred Coast Guard use of dispersement. It seems to be very, very effective, it’s doing its job. The long term consequences of it — of that much dispersant are something that we’ve absolutely need to study. BP is already gathering scientists and want to know — we want to know the impact of that and many others about this accident.
COOPER: So you don’t really know is the long — at this point, you don’t know the long term impact of this amount of dispersants underneath the surface of the — underneath the surface and on the surface?
DUDLEY: Not this amount, no. But we see it doing its job and it’s effectively a dish soap that breaks the oil into small droplets and then the bacteria eats it. It’s non-toxic, it’s biodegradable, that what it’s designed to do.
COOPER: But I mean, a number of environmentalists have raised concerns about it and in fact, according to the “New York Times”, I’m quoting, “BP continues to stockpile and deploy oil dispersing chemicals manufactured by a company which it shares close ties even though other US EPA approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and in some case nearly twice as effective.
That basically, you’re using products, I think I may have the name wrong, called Corexit (ph), and according to the “Times,” they say 12 out of the 18 EPA approved dispersants were found to be effective than Corexit according to EPA data. And the toxicity of the 12 was either comparable or 10 to 20 times less, according to EPA. So if there’s less toxic things out there, why not use it?
DUDLEY: Anderson, the EPA is very thorough in their testing of these. And I can’t tell you the shades of gray and the rankings of various characteristics of it. I do know that this particular product and there’s two products that we’re using, had been stockpiled and they were available for immediate response.
And when we submitted the original spill response plan, they were in that response. The EPA is very thorough about such things. So I think we’re a — we’re — and they do not have these same concerns that you mention.
COOPER: According to their own reports, there are less toxic and more effective dispersants to use. They may not have had them on hand but have you made any effort to — in the nearly four weeks of this spill to actually get other dispersants in there that are less toxic, that are actually more effective in the Gulf although it may not be ones connected to your company.
DUDLEY: Well, it’s not connected to the company. I don’t know anything about that. It’s a commercial product that’s available and is used the Gulf.
COOPER: One of the members of the your board is an executive for the company that owns these dispersants.
DUDLEY: I think I would know that. And I can’t tell you. I don’t know anybody who is actually. That company supplies these products used all around the world. We are working with the EPA to look at other dispersants and looking at their availability and the potential of putting those into action. I do know that.
And this is one of the things that we will look at in the near term here. There’s no question we’re going to will look at any option here to make sure this is the most effective response, contain it at the surface, select it, burn it, keep it off the beaches. We’re not going to do anything except try to make this the most effective oil spill response in history.
COOPER: You said that the EPA wasn’t concerned. The EPA director actually said that, quote, “I’m amazed by how little science there is on the issue” in front of a Congressional committee. And she said that she’s working BP and others to, quote, “get less toxic dispersants to the site as quickly as possible”. Do you have a timeline on when that may occur? DUDLEY: Well, you have — we have to get into the unified command certainty in Robert, Louisiana on that. There’s no question that that’s where they deploy the resources and allocate and prioritize resources. I’m sure if that’s what she said, that’s what we’re doing, no question about it. I can’t tell you tonight.
COOPER: Finally, I want to try to clarify something I read in a “U.K Times” article. Tony Hayward on May 13th, the CEO, your boss at BP said that he — he promised that he was going to stay here until we have fixed it. That was his quote, staying in America until we fixed it. According to the “UK Times”, he’s now intending to be in England tomorrow for a board meeting and to celebrate his 54th birthday. Is that true?
DUDLEY: Well, I just saw him before we came here. I don’t know anything about that. Tony has worked tirelessly over the last month. He’s been all across the Gulf States and met with governors in the claim centers on the beaches to see and talk with people to make sure the spill responses is going well. He’s been overseeing the engineering activities that we have daily. I don’t really know but I can tell you he’s one hard working dedicated guy on this.
BEHAR: I have no doubt about that. I just think, you know, he made this promise and I just wanted to verify the “UK Times” report. So we’ll try to check back with BP on that for tonight’s broadcast.
Bob Dudley, appreciate your time. Thank you.
DUDLEY: Thanks, Anderson.