[seadog] Spanish Oil Firm to Extract Fuel from Sunk Tanker

  • From: "Tom Blanchard" <tomblanchard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "SEADOG" <seadog@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 12:25:00 -0500

Can you imagine??

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish company Repsol YPF will attempt to extract up to
37,000 tonnes of fuel oil from the sunken tanker Prestige in a three-step
approach that has never been tried before, officials said on Friday.

The ambitious project with an open-ended budget seeks to put an end to the
worst environmental disaster in Spanish history.

As a stop-gap measure, the French mini-submarine Nautile has patched cracks
in the leaking hull, but the new plan to capture the remaining fuel oil or
possibly pump it out would be a permanent solution.

"Never before in history has an operation of this kind been performed,"
Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

Work could begin this summer. In the meantime, Repsol will adapt undersea
robots to be able to work at depths of nearly 2.5 miles, Rajoy told a news
conference.

Rajoy said the first step would be to attach a valve to the wreckage and
capture the fuel oil in giant bags.
If that does not work, the next step would be to build a canopy over the
wreckage to trap oil heading for the surface.

As a last resort, Repsol would pump fuel oil out of the wreckage. Rajoy said
this would be the most complicated aspect of the operation if needed.
The Prestige, laden with 77,000 tonnes of thick, foul-smelling fuel oil,
sprang a leak in the stormy Atlantic off the northwest coast of Spain last
November. Officials ordered the damaged vessel out to sea, where it split in
two and sank.

The separate stern and bow sections rest about 3.5 km (2.2 miles) beneath
the surface.

About half its load has spilled into the ocean, coating hundreds of
kilometers (miles) of coastline, killing wildlife and temporarily throwing
hundreds of fishermen out of work.

The Spanish region of Galicia was devastated, and pollution spread as far as
France. The cleanup continues to this day.

Because such a three-step operation has never been tried, there was no set
budget. Rajoy withdrew a preliminary figure of 230 million euros ($246.7
million) he mentioned previously.

Repsol will direct the project and have the support of oil firms BP, Eni of
Italy, Petrobras of Brazil, Norway's Statoil and TotalFinaElf of France.
Those companies will have a budget of 11.4 million euros to 20.5 million
euros, Rajoy said.



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