Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Update: BP Options To Stop The Flow Of Oil In The Gulf

May 25: BP provided an update on developments in the response to the MC252 oil well incident in the Gulf of Mexico saying subsea efforts continue to focus on progressing options to stop the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the MC252 blow out preventer (BOP) and to collect the flow of oil from the leak points. The efforts are being carried out in conjunction with industry experts and governmental authorities. Plans have been developed for a series of interventions via the BOP; it is currently anticipated these may be carried out over a period of about a week, commencing in the next few days. These interventions have not been carried out at these depths and conditions before and the success of individual options cannot be assured.

    The first planned intervention is the so-called "top kill" operation which began a 2 PM today (May 26). Heavy drilling fluids would be injected into the well to stem the flow of oil and gas and, ultimately, kill the well. Most of the equipment is on site and preparations for this operation continue, with a view to deployment within a few days. If necessary, equipment is also in place to combine this operation with the injection under pressure of bridging material to seal off upward flow through the BOP.
    BP said sophisticated diagnostic work using remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) will precede the "top kill" to allow the procedure to be planned in detail. The knowledge from this diagnostic work will be instrumental in determining whether to proceed with this option. BP said should it be necessary, plans and equipment are in place to combine the top kill process with the injection under pressure of bridging material into the BOP to prevent or limit upward flow through the BOP.

    BP indicated it will continue to provide a live video feed from the seabed through the diagnostic testing and top kill, if undertaken. They said, "Throughout the diagnostic process and top kill procedure very significant changes in the appearance of the flows at the seabed will be expected. These will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole."
    Being progressed in parallel with plans for the top kill is development of a lower marine riser package (or LMRP) cap containment option. This would first involve removing the damaged riser from the top of the BOP, leaving a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP. The LMRP cap, an engineered containment device with a sealing grommet, would be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and then placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well and transporting it to the drillship on the surface. The LMRP cap is already on site and it is anticipated that this option will be available for deployment by the end of May. BP indicated that additional options also continue to be progressed, including the option of lowering a second blow-out preventer, or a valve, on top of the MC 252 BOP.
    In the meantime, the latest update from the Unified Command indicates that thousands of response personnel continue working to protect the shoreline and minimize the environmental impact of the oil spill. More than 16,000 response personnel, 12,000 volunteers, 1,200 vessels and 60 aircraft are working to clean oil along the Gulf Coast. Additional response personnel and equipment are being pre-positioned in areas where modeling and aerial surveillance indicate a greater potential for shoreline impact.

    Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams, along with teams using booms, are already deployed along potentially affected shorelines. More than three million feet of boom is in place and crews are rapidly removing oil from the shoreline with shovels and rakes. Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Team personnel are overseeing and evaluating response efforts to ensure the oil is removed with the most environmentally responsible methods. Skimming vessels have recovered more than 260,000 barrels of oily water mixture. Additional strategies include the application of dispersant and controlled burn operations to stop oil offshore. On Monday (May 24), crews conducted 14 controlled burns for nearly 12 hours bringing the response total to 53 burns and 62,000 barrels of oil removed.

    Access a release from BP (click here); and (click here). Access the BP response website for complete details on their response efforts (click here). Access the Unified Command website for complete updates (click here). Access the White House website on the BP spill which contains links to all Federal agency response websites (click here). Access the BP live video feed (click here).