Public forum examines cause, consequences and cost of spill in Gulf

Ray Orbach

Dr. Raymond L. Orbach
Director of the Energy Institute

AUSTIN, Texas — The worsening deepwater oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico coast was the topic of a public briefing and discussion, "Oil in Troubled Waters," by several university experts in petroleum engineering, geology, law, business and environment Tuesday, May 18, sponsored by the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.

The briefing, titled "Oil in Troubled Waters" featured leading university experts in the areas of petroleum engineering, environment, public policy, law and geosciences. It was moderated by Robert Hutchings, dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

Speakers included David Adelman, the Harry M. Reasoner Chair in Law at the School of Law; Dr. Tadeusz W Patzek, chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering No. 11 and the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Chair in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering; Dr. Paul Bommer, founder of the oil and gas drilling and production operation Bommer Engineering Co. and senior lecturer in petroleum engineering; Dr. Charles G. Groat, director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Programs; Dr. Sheridan Titman, the Walter W. McAllister Centennial Chair in Financial Services, Red McCombs School of Business, and Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, director of the Energy Institute.

The panelists discussed what is now known about the cause of the accident, the unique problems in controlling and plugging a well in waters 5,000 feet deep, and what needs to be done to minimize the likelihood of an accident at these depths occurring in the future. Some of the panelists have had experience in consulting and other working relationships with energy companies and/or environmental organizations.

Panelists described the environmental damage that is occurring, the potential long-term effects on ecosystems and fish populations as well as the options for mitigating damage. Legal and financial issues will be addressed, such as who is liable for the damage, liability limits and the impact of the accident on BP and other companies involved with the drilling activities at the time of the accident.

Complete Webcast

To view all presentations made during the public forum, go to the webcast. The length is 1 hour, 41 minutes.