Jan de Nul oil spill clean up offer blocked

AN OFFER by Belgian dredging giant Jan de Nul to bring an early end to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was turned down because of a protectionist US law, the company said today.

Jan de Nul offered to send its fallpipe vessel Simon Stevinto the Gulf of Mexico but was frustrated by the US Jones Act, which restricts coastal traffic to vessels built and flagged in the US.

The 36,000 dwt Simon Stevin — one of the largest vessels of its type — is equipped with a 2,000 m fallpipe, which could have been used to suck up oil from the broken rig riser. It is normally used to dump rocks at great depth.

“There were two meetings with BP, one early in May and one at the end of the month,” said Jan de Nul spokeswoman Ann Keymeulen. “We offered to send Simon Stevin but in the end they said no because of the Jones Act and because the vessel was in Singapore. They thought it would take too long to send it over. They said they wanted to use their own equipment.”

The offer was made by Jan de Nul engineer Noel Pille, who also met briefly with US president Barack Obama.

“The diameter of the pipe on such a ship is much broader than the funnel BP is now using to suck up the oil,” Mr Pille told Belgian newspaper De Tijd. “That means we can collect more oil, which can be pumped underwater into an oil tanker. Moreover, at the bottom of the fall pipe there is a type of unmanned submarine, which can perform tasks at great depths. With our assistance the entire process could have been speeded up greatly.”

Another offer to use dredgers to build sand and stone barriers to protect coastal wetland was also turned down.

“We could do that in half the time and at a lower price,” Mr Pille said.



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