You are here: Home Home News

Whats New

CostnerDragna

Hollywood actor promotes plan for oil-spill readiness



BERWICK — Aboard the Little Gulp, a 180-foot skimmer parked along River Road in Berwick Tuesday, Hollywood star Kevin Costner, who famously fought last year to have his skimming technology used in the oil spill cleanup, pitched his plan to keep the Gulf ready for future spills.








By Nikki Buskey 
Staff Writer
Daily Comet 

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:29 a.m. 
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.

Read More: Daily Comet



 
horizon

Oil Skimmer "The Big Gulp"



Deepwater Horizon Site-- Fifty miles offshore, a skimmer the size of a football field satisfies its healthy appetite.

"The Big Gulp," as BP has nicknamed it, is the brainchild of Lee Dragna, the president of LAD Services, a Morgan City barge builder.

"They give us the coordinates of where they saw (the oil) in the morning and we go chase it down," Dragna said.

His invention had a surprising genesis. His 10 year old son, who wanted to go fishing again, started pestering Dragna to "fix the spill." "He told me, 'Daddy, you can fix anything.' I said, 'son, I can't fix this one. I'm sorry.'" Dragna explains that, after a his son moped around for a couple of days, "I said, 'okay, I'll work on it.'"

His solution came to him rather easily. "Once I started putting pencil to paper, it really wasn't that hard," Dragna said. He teamed up with James Cashman, who runs a worldwide fleet of barges.. "Don't ask me how he did it because there's 50,000 people trying to get in to see (BP) each day and Lee managed to get through there," Cashman said.

BP turned out to be a phone call away for Dragna, who called the company hotline. Judi Paul, one of the BP executives in charge of vetting ideas, was rotating back to the Houston headquarters, when an engineer asked her to check into an idea that had peaked his interest. "The idea did look good on paper," Paul said. "But at the same time, we can't bring out every idea that looks good on paper. We need ideas that are going to add real value to the mission." BP agree to test the barge, but with a huge catch: Dragna and Cashman would have to foot the cost of converting the first one on their own dime. "Oh, there was a huge risk," Cashman said. "We had millions at risk." Dragna, who says, in business, he always looks at the bad first before looking at the good, saw "too much good in it." BP set a requirement for the test, which the Big Gulp easily exceeded. Paul says the barge worked, "much more quickly than we anticipated it would."

Since then, BP has paid for seven more barges, three Big Gulps and four smaller barges, dubbed "Little Gulps.

In a storyline featuring one failure after another, the company is anxious to show off this asset, which now collects up to 210,000 gallons of oil per day. "In my opinion, this has been one of the biggest success stories we've had, yet the least publicized," Paul said.

A tug boat guides the barges-turned-skimmers into a patch of oil, often near the spill site itself. Oil enters the skimmers through a big mouth cut into the bow of the barge, building up against a bulkhead and finally spilling over into a holding tank. From there, oil is pumped into two holding tanks, where gravity separates the oil from the heavier water. Crew members open a valve, sending clean water back into the gulf, while capturing a mix that is 98 percent oil. The barges, while larger than the fleet of skimmers at work on the spill, can also turn on a dime. They can work in shallow water, only a few feet, or because of their bulk, in seas up to six feet. "We try to stay out here to be the last ones," Dragna said.

The Deepwater Horizon blowout caught government and industry flatfooted, exposing the need for more equipment to be perhaps be stationed permanently. Dragna and Cashman have big plans for the Big Gulp once BP finally contains this spill. "We're thinking about teaming up and creating this kind of international response for the oil companies," Cashman said.

==================
News Item Reported by: Fox News 8

Reported by: John Snell, Anchor
 Reported by: Paul Rodgers, Photographer
Reported by: Kia Callia, Photographer


   

What's New


BERWICK — Aboard the Little Gulp, a 180-foot skimmer parked along River Road in Berwick Tuesday, Hollywood star Kevin Costner, who famously fought last year to have his skimming technology used in More...
Deepwater Horizon Site-- Fifty miles offshore, a skimmer the size of a football field satisfies its healthy appetite. "The Big Gulp," as BP has nicknamed it, is the brainchild of Lee Dragna, More...

Barge Launch Video