BP collecting 3,000 b/d of oil, 14 MMscfd of gas from gulf spill

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 20 -- A riser insertion tool is collecting an estimated 3,000 b/d of oil and 14 MMscfd of gas, diverting those hydrocarbons from contributing to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, BP PLC said May 20.

The total volume of the oil leak on the seabed is estimated at 5,000 b/d.

The oil is being stored and gas is being flared on Transocean Ltd.’s Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface 5,000 ft above. These efforts are being carried out in conjunction with governmental authorities and other industry experts.

The riser insertion tool is a 4-in. steel pipe inserted about 5 ft into a 21-in. damaged riser on the seabed. The end of the damaged riser is about 600 ft from the runaway Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

A blowout resulted in a fire and explosion on Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible rig on Apr. 20, leaving 11 crew members missing and presumed dead. BP operates the block.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called for federal authorities to accelerate the approval process so that oil spill response crews can build emergency sand barriers. Jindal said oil has polluted wetlands along Pass a Loutre near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile, BP continues work to develop a “top kill” procedure in which heavy drilling fluids will be injected into the well to stem the flow of oil and gas. Cement then will be injected into the well to kill the flow.

Most of this equipment already is on site, and BP spokesmen estimate that the procedure could start on May 23-24 pending a final decision to try this approach. The US Minerals Management Service is reviewing plans for the top kill, said Lars Herbst, MMS Gulf of Mexico regional director.

Crews burning oil again
Works continues to collect and disperse oil on the surface. US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said calm weather and calm seas this week enabled the use of controlled burns on open water.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP Exploration & Production, told reporters during a May 19 news conference from Robert, La., that three burns were done in 1 day this week, and that one burn lasted up to 2 hr compared with the usual 1-hr burns.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said May 19 that a small portion of the oil slick has reached the Loop Current in the form of light to very light sheens.

The Loop Current could take the oil to the Florida Straits and the eastern coast of Florida.

“However, the oil may get caught in a clockwise eddy in the middle of the gulf and not be carried to the Florida Straits at all,” NOAA scientists said in a news release. If the oil were to reach the Florida shore, it probably would appear as tar balls in isolated locations, they said.

Tar balls found so far in the Florida Keys have been unrelated to the spill. The source of those tar balls remains unknown, but it’s not the same type of oil as that coming from the Macondo well, scientists said.

More than 930 vessels, including skimmers and other oil recovery vessels, are involved in the oil spill response effort. Some 187,000 bbl of oily liquid has been collected from the surface.

Some 1.9 million ft of boom has been deployed. More than 19,000 people from BP, other companies, and government are involved in the spill response effort.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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