By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa business says it's had the technology, know-how and equipment to clean up oil from the Gulf all along, but government hurdles and red tape have kept them from being able to put their skills to use.
For nearly 90 days, we've seen images of oil spewing into the gulf: birds covered in oil, the environment threatened. Bill Compton of Tulsa-based Primenergy says it didn't have to be this bad.
"It just makes you sick watching this whole thing and knowing that we can solve the problem," he said.
Primenergy has equipment that can basically pump a water/oil mix into a tank and separate it using blasts of 25,000 volts of electricity. The oil can then go on to a refinery, and the water is clean.
Seems like a no brainer for the gulf cleanup, right?
"We sent packages to Houston; we sent them all over; we couldn't get anybody to listen to us," said Bill Compton of Tulsa's Primenergy.
Primenergy can't understand why, and says something should be done to make it easier for companies with a proven track record to help in the Gulf.
"Get through the bureaucracy and get through the red tape - actually get working and do something," said Stephen Mellott of Primenergy, a Tulsa company with an oil/water separator they say could have helped in the Gulf oil leak.
The electrostatic heater/treater is proven, with five years of use in the industry. Each unit can process 50,000 barrels a day.
"It was really sad to sit there and think about all of that's going to get contaminated, and we've got units here that are available," Compton said.
With two of them available, it would have been more than enough to clean up the Gulf and could have spared the economic hardships and environmental damage.
"It may not have been able to be 100% prevented, but we could have made a huge impact on the conditions they are experiencing now," Mellott said.
Primenergy says that with lasting effects from the spill, the Tulsa company could still have a role to play in the recovery, if they can get someone to listen.
"All of this is proven technology, we do it every day. But nobody is listening," said Primenergy's Bill Compton.
Not only is the machine produced in Tulsa able to handle big time volumes of water and oil, another plus is that it's designed so that it can work on floating platforms or ships. That means it can be moved out of harm's way during hurricane season and then brought back once a storm passes.