Hoping to “restore public confidence in the industry,” four of the world’s biggest oil companies have united, pledging to commit a total of $1 billion to the formation of a “rapid-response system” to combat future deepwater oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. The voluntary effort will see the construction of a set of “modular containment equipment” - including underwater systems and pipelines - ready for emergency use. Once it’s been assembled, the system will be able to handle spills in water as deep as 10,000 feet and capture up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
The four companies - Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell - will each pony up $250 million for the initiative, which will take six months to get in place. Exxon Vice President of Engineering Sara Ortwein explained, putting it mildly to say the least: “One thing that has become clear is that we need to have a system that is flexible, adaptable and available for rapid response.” Though the Times notes this seems primarily a play “to persuade the Obama administration to lift a temporary ban on deepwater drilling,” at least they’re doing something to ensure this kind of disaster never happens again.