After several weeks of failed attempts to plug the massive Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum has devised a novel idea: simply let the oil continue to flow to the surface of the sea, then scoop it up and refine it on the spot. To accomplish this, the British oil giant has just completed a first-of-its-kind, floating oil refinery near the source of the underwater gusher.
BP cobbled together the refining plant last week using surplus parts from other refineries, tying together thousands of empty steel oil drums to serve as a floating platform. The refinery is now up and running at full capacity, turning 30,000 barrels of sticky, waterlogged crude into high-grade gasoline and diesel fuel each day. And instead of shipping the gas to shore, the refinery has set up an on-site marine service station, refilling boats in the area.
“Why let this valuable resource go to waste by letting it wash up on the shores in the Gulf Coast, where it just sits on the beaches doing nothing?,” said BP CEO Tony Hayward, from his office in London. “We bring the refinery to the oil, suck it up from the water and refine it on location!”
Excitement over the floating refinery has BP looking to the future.
“The beauty of this facility is in its portability,” added Hayward. “The next time a spill occurs anywhere in the world, we can pull up anchor and tow this rig to the new gusher, ready to skim off the oil slick within 72 hours!”
While the move was met with skepticism by environmental activists, fishermen, shrimpers and yacht owners from Galveston to Pensacola are ecstatic over the new services now being offered at sea. As promotion and gesture of goodwill, BP will offer 100 gallons of free fuel for each of the first 100 shrimp boats that pull up to the station’s dock this week.
“This site is a great addition to the BP brand!,” exclaimed Alan Helgeson, operations manager on the giant rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. “Why go back to shore? Just pull your shrimp boat up to our docks and fill ‘er up! And don’t forget to stop in our on-board convenience store for beer and cigarettes.”
Developers are eyeing the floating structure to possibly offer more services for sea-faring travelers, including hotels, casinos, and perhaps even a BP theme park.
Shares of BP Plc rebounded at the closing Friday on the NYSE, gaining 75 cents per share.
“We don’t just bring petroleum to America’s shores,” added Hayward. “We bring petroleum everywhere!”