After actor Kevin Costner spent weeks calling attention to a high-tech oil cleanup device his company spent years developing, BP tested the machine and overnight released a statement saying that not only does the device work, officials are "excited" about its potential.
"We were confident the technology would work but we needed to test it at the extremes. We've done that and are excited by the results," said Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer. "We are very pleased with the results and today we have placed a significant order with OTS [Costner's Ocean Therapy Solutions] and will be working with them to rapidly manufacture and deploy 32 of their machines."
The machine is a centrifuge designed to separate spilled oil from water and, according to Costner, could be instrumental in cleaning up the massive oil slick expanding in the Gulf.
Costner has spent the past 15 years and more than $20 million of his own money to develop the oil separator, which during successful testing, left water 99 percent clean of crude.
"If 20 of my V20s [machines] would have been at the Exxon Valdez, 90 percent of that oil would have been cleaned up within the week," he said, referring to one of the models of the oil separators.
Costner told "Good Morning America" anchor Sam Champion Monday that he became inspired to work on the device after watching coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
That spill occurred off the coast of Alaska when the supertanker Exxon Valdez hit a reef in 1989. Approximately 11 million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, causing widespread harm to the local wildlife, environment and economy.
Click HERE to read the entire transcript of the interview.
"When I saw everyone on the shore with rubber boots and pitch fork, trying to clean up the problem that they didn't create, you know, the images of the birds, it was all very sad," the "Field of Dreams" star said, speaking of the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez spill. In the interview that today on "Good Morning America," he added: "So I went ahead and said, 'does this have to happen?'"
Costner started his own company, Costner Industries, and bought the patent for the technology.
The devices, which can be taken to the spill site via barges, come in different sizes. The largest can clean water at a rate of 200 gallons per minute, according to the firm.
Depending on the water-to-oil ratio, the devices are capable of extracting 2,000 barrels of oil per day from the gulf.
The actor and representatives of Ocean Therapy Solutions, the firm that developed the machine, demonstrated the centrifugal device for BP officials in New Orleans last month.
"The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate at unprecedented rates," said Ocean Therapy Solutions CEO John Houghtaling. "They were developed from older centrifuge technology. Normal centrifuge machines are very slow and sensitive to different ratios of oil to water mixtures at intake."
BP is currently testing the machines.
During the initial test, the machine failed to work because the oil had been transformed to a peanut butter-like thickness due to the effects of the dispersants. The machines were then adjusted to handle the thick consistency, and now they work as intended, Costner's publicist said.
Costner hopes the machine will be headed to the Gulf soon.