Giant oil skimmer still not ready at Gulf of Mexico spill site

Tests of a giant Taiwanese tanker to collect oil gushing from a ruptured well
in the Gulf of Mexico would continue after initial trials were
deemed inconclusive because of rough seas.

Over the weekend the modified ship, named A Whale, was being
tested to separate crude oil from sea water in an area north of the
BP Plc well that has been spewing oil into the Gulf.

”After an initial 48-hour testing period, results remain
inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering,”
Bob Grantham, spokesman for the company, said in a statement to the
Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

”Over this same period, very few other skimmers have even been
deployed. Therefore, working in close coordination with the US
Coast Guard, we will be undertaking an additional testing period to
make operational and technological adjustments aimed at improving
skimming effectiveness given the actual conditions we are
encountering in the Gulf.”

The ship scoops up the oily water and then separates it, and has
the capacity to skim about 21 million gallons of oil a day. The
tanker has 12 openings on either side to suck up oil and water and
is equipped to spit out the water and store the oil. The ‘whale’ is
equipped with large slits called jaws, which pull oily water into
ship’s hull for filtering oil and dispersing water.

The retrofitted cargo vessel is 10 stories tall, the width of a
football field and as long as almost four football fields. The
gigantic vessel can gather up to 400,000 barrels of oil a day until
now painfully accomplished by some 500 skimming boats in two

The costs of clearing up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has
exceeded $3 billion, oil giant BP said in London Monday.

The company said the cost had reached $3.12 billion, including
$147 million paid out in compensation to residents affected by the


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