'Top hat' oil spill containment dome on seafloor, deployment over spill imminent

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The “top hat’ oil spill containment dome has been successfully lowered onto the seafloor 5,000 feet below the water’s surface and will be moved atop the gushing oil spill within days.

In an effort to contain the oil that is flowing into the sea, this subsea device will capture the oil leaking from the ruptured drillpipe and force the oil-water mixture up a riser to a drillship above the water’s surface. The drillship will then process the petroleum.

This is the second oil spill containment dome to be deployed at the Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. The first, much larger device, was stymied by the formation of gas hydrates at the ultra-deepwater level.

Although this type of solution has never been used at this great of sea depth, hope remains that the “top hat” oil spill containment dome will be able to stop one of the oil leaks.

Another oil leak was capped last week by ROVs, and the largest source of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico remains at the blowout preventer (BOP).

The oil spill response team continues to focus on clogging the oil escaping the failed BOP.

The oil spill is the result of a fire, explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico.

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