Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 98 BP Oil Spill: Storm Fizzles; Operations Resume; Hayward Out?

Jun 26: On July 23, with the guidance and approval of the National Incident Commander (NIC) and the leadership and direction of the Federal government, relief well activities at the MC252 well site were temporarily suspended because of potentially adverse weather associated with Tropical Storm Bonnie. Following the passing of the weather system, the DDIII drilling rig returned to the relief well site on July 24 and is taking steps necessary to reconnect with the well and resume drilling operations. These steps are expected to take a number of days. The DDII drilling rig is moving back into position, and will take steps necessary to reconnect to the second relief well. However, work on the second relief well has been suspended so as not to interfere with the first.
    On Saturday evening (July 24) Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill and NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco reported on the diminishing impacts from the weather conditions in the Gulf and said, "We do not expect any significant storm surge along the coast. Because Bonnie has weakened, all tropical storm warnings along the Northern Gulf Coast have been discontinued. We expect that Bonnie should help dissipate and weather the oil that's at the surface. It will spread the surface slick out and thereby lower oil concentrations. It's expected to break tar patches and tar mass into smaller tar balls which means faster weathering and faster natural biodegradation. It will also cause more natural dispersion, again lowering the concentration of oil in the water and making it more available to the natural bacteria that are in the water that do this natural biodegradation."
    On Sunday evening (July 25), Allen reported that there had been a series of meetings in Houston earlier in the day with the science team and representatives of BP with extensive discussion about the efforts to remobilize assets at the source and make preparations for installing the casing and moving on with the "static kill" (from the top) and the "bottom kill" (from the interceptor relief well). Apparently the current strategy is to do the static kill and then proceed with the well intercept. Simultaenously, the plan involves working toward a second vertical riser to recover more oil should a backup be necessary.
    Allen explained, "The time line is roughly over the next week. We'll return the Development Driller III, run the riser pipe, latch in [connecting the riser pipe to the lower marine riser package], pull that undersea containment device, which they call a packer. They're going to need to circulate conditioning fluids through that pipe line to make sure it's ready what they call conditioning a hole and then some time in the next week they'll be in a position to be able to run that (nine and sent to eight inch) liner which is the critical path right now to moving -- to move ahead. Once that liner is laid, they're going to put cement in and around it. And at that point the two vessels that were supporting the liner operation, one call the Blue Dolphin, the other is called the Center Line will redeploy and hook up with the Q4000. This is sometime -- this will be sometime during the week of 1 August. And they will set up for that to be able to inject the static kill and during that week of August subject to the (inaudible) I'm sorry the containment pipe being installed and cemented in then we will go to the static kill with the Q4000. So generally the next week will be prep, making sure everything is ready to go and getting the liner run and then the week of the first of August is when we will attempt to do the static kill and then move back and finish the bottom kill."
    Also, on July 26, BP issued a brief release stating, "BP notes the press speculation over the weekend regarding potential changes to management and the charge for the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP confirms that no final decision has been made on these matters. A Board meeting is being held on Monday evening ahead of the announcement of the second quarter results on 27th July. Any decisions will be announced as appropriate." The speculation is that BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward will be replaced by Bob Dudley who recently took over the job as BP's point man for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup job. BP current share price is approaching $39, and the market value is $121 billion.
    Access the late Sunday briefing of Allen for more details on the upcoming strategy (click here). Access a July 25 summary of operations (click here). Access the Restore the Gulf website for more information (click here). Access the Unified Command website which contains additional information (click here). Access more information on BP activities from the BP response website (click here).