Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 86 BP Oil Spill Update: New Cap Pressure Testing Delayed

Jul 14: BP announced that it was delaying the start of its planned well integrity testing on the MC252 well following the successful installation of the "three ram capping stack." According to an announcement, following a meeting with Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Chu and his team of scientific and industry experts, the National Incident Commander Thad Allen announced that additional analysis of the well testing procedure should be performed before starting the well integrity test. This analysis is underway at this time and is expected to be complete sometime today (July 14).  
    Late Tuesday, July 13, Allen released a statement saying, ""Today I met with Secretary Chu, Marcia McNutt and other scientists and geologists as well as officials from BP and other industry representatives as we continue to prepare and review protocols for the well integrity test -- including the seismic mapping run that was made around the well site this morning. As a result of these discussions, we decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight and tomorrow. Both the Helix Producer and the Q4000 collection systems are currently on line with the potential to exceed the containment capability that existed before the sealing cap was installed, and skimmers continue to be surged to the well site in anticipation of any increased oil flow as part of the transition. The drilling of relief wells also continues -- the first relief has been drilled to a depth of 17,840 feet below the Gulf surface, and the second to a depth of approximately 15,963 feet below the surface." 

    During the analysis period, BP indicated it will continue to ramp up containment operations on the Helix Producer as well as continue to optimize the Q4000 operations. The Helix Producer has the capacity to capture approximately 20,000 – 25,000 barrels of oil per day. Historically, the Q4000 has flared an average of approximately 8,000 barrels of oil per day. Operations continue on the first relief well, however, operations on the second relief well have been temporarily suspended at 15,963 feet to ensure that there is no interference with the first relief well. The relief wells remain the sole means to permanently seal and isolate the well.
    BP reported that for the last 12 hours on July 13 (noon to midnight), approximately 5,085 barrels of oil were collected and 12.6 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared on the Helix Producer, and approximately 4,000 barrels of oil and 9.8 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared on the Q4000. On July 13, total oil recovered was approx. 17,060 barrels.
    In other matters, the Administration sent a fourth bill for $99.7 million to BP and other responsible parties for response and recovery operations relating to the spill. The Administration said it will continue to bill BP regularly for all associated costs to ensure the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is reimbursed on an ongoing basis. BP and other responsible parties have paid the first three bills in full -- totaling $122.3 million. 
    As a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and protect consumers, NOAA has expanded the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico. The closed area now represents 83,927 square miles -- approximately 35 percent -- Federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This closure does not apply to any state waters. The expanded area went into effect on July 13, at 6 PM eastern time. All commercial and recreational fishing including catch and release is prohibited in the closed area; however, transit through the area is allowed.
    Access an update from BP on the delay (click here). Access the new RestoreTheGulf website for links to the latest Unified Command updates and more (click here). Access the latest NOAA closure advisory (click here). Access further updates from the BP website (click here).