BP oil spill swamps Yahoo search engine in 2010
SAN FRANCISCO: It took a man-made disaster to topple a celebrity from the top spot on Yahoo Inc.'s annual list of most popular search requests, AP reported.
BP PLC's massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast drew the most interest among the tens of millions of people that used Yahoo's search engine during 2010. The Internet company released its top 10 rankings Tuesday.
Michael Jackson was Yahoo's most requested subject in 2009, the year that the entertainer's death stunned the world.
Britney Spears, another star-crossed singer, held the No. 1 position on Yahoo's search list from 2005 through 2008.
After falling to No. 5 last year, Spears dropped to No. 10 on Yahoo's list this year.
Although Yahoo's search engine is the second most used on the Web, it's not the best barometer of people's online interests.
That's because Google fields billions more search requests than Yahoo, Microsoft Corp.'s Bing and AOL Inc. combined.
Bing and AOL released their top searches earlier this week, with reality TV star Kim Kardashian topping Bing's list and golfer Tiger Woods leading the pack of celebrities at AOL. Kardashian came in fourth on Yahoo's list and seventh in AOL's celebrity rankings; Woods was third on Bing and didn't appear among Yahoo's Top 10.
Google doesn't plan to break down its top searches until later in December so it can get an even better handle on what piqued Web surfers' curiosity this year.
As usual, pop culture dominated the rest of Yahoo's Top 10.
Other celebrities on Yahoo's list included teen singer and actress Miley Cyrus (No. 3), singer Lady Gaga (No. 5), actress Megan Fox (No. 7), teen heartthrob Justin Bieber (No. 8) and TV's top-rated show, the American Idol talent competition (No. 9).
Soccer's World Cup, which drew huge crowds and television audiences in June, grabbed the second spot on Yahoo's list while Apple Inc.'s most hot-selling gadget, the iPhone, came in sixth
In a separate news item, Wall Street Journal reported that BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) has said it has suspended construction on a drilling rig at its Liberty oil field project in Alaska's Beaufort Sea pending an engineering and design review to ensure the project can be built and operated safely.
BP contractors have been working on the rig since it arrived at the Endicott offshore oil field in the summer of 2009.
Since then, BP has encountered some "issues" during construction that prompted the company to temporarily suspend construction until the issues can be resolved, said Steve Rinehart, a spokesman for BP's Alaska exploration unit.
BP's activities in the U.S. have come under increased scrutiny since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this past spring and summer, and after the company pleaded guilty in 2007 to a misdemeanor criminal charge of negligence over an oil spill the previous year on Alaska's North Slope.
Rinehart did not say what the issues at the Liberty drill rig were or when they became apparent.
But he said BP's review will focus on the rig's power supply, high-pressure mudhandling system, heating, ventillation and air-conditioning systems and other systems "that are crucial to operating the rig safely."
Parker Drilling Co. (PKD) built the rig and is involved in construction.
BP plans to continue work on the Liberty project when the construction issues are resolved, Rinehart said.
The company had hoped to start drilling a waste-disposal well in mid-2011 and drill the first oil well by late 2011, Rinehart said.
That schedule could be pushed back, although BP is keen to continue with the project, Rinehart said.
"This is a very important project for us, it's a big project for Alaska and an important project for the country," Rinehart said.
"We want to make sure it's done safely and carefully."
Earlier this year, BP had hoped to start exploratory drilling at Liberty this year, but in July the company said it was postponing drilling to 2011 to allow the company time to respond to inquiries from federal and state regulators about the safety of the project.
BP plans to drill from a gravel island the company built at the Endicott field, to tap an estimated 100 millionbarrel reservoir off the coast.
The rig will drill horizontally for six to eight miles in a technique called "ultraextended reach drilling" that BP maintains is safe, if untested at such a long range, but that some critics have said could be dangerous.
Environmental groups have asked the Interior Department to halt the project over concerns about safety and the company's ability to respond to an accident. -Ap