By Phaedra Friend Troy
While the oil spill response team is making every effort to stop the oil from spilling from the two remaining leaks on the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, primary focus is on the blowout preventer (BOP).
Oil spilling from the BOP remains the largest gusher, 5,000 feet below the water’s surface.
‘Top Kill’ Strategy
Remotely Operated Vehicles, or ROVs, are currently traversing the ocean floor allowing oil spill responders to see what is happening and work toward stopping the oil leak. The ROVs have helped to diagnose the issue as well as given insight to planning efforts.
The BOP effort has been coined a “top kill” strategy because if the BOP is fixed and able to be activated, stopping the oil from flowing would happen from above the water.
The “top kill” effort involves injecting materials of various densities and sizes into the internal spaces in the BOP to create a seal – this is called a “junk shot.” Then, specialized heavy fluids are pumped into the well to prevent oil from flowing.
Plans for the “junk shot” effort are under way, and deployment of this “top kill” solution is planned for next week.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day are spilling into the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico due to an accident aboard the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig.
A fire and explosion occurred on the rig on April 20. Subsequently, the rig sunk to the ocean floor and oil began spilling into the Gulf from three locations. One of those leak sites has been capped, and oil spill responders are working feverishly to clog the other two leaks.
Furthermore, oil spill responders have been working to protect the US Gulf Coast shoreline and wildlife by deploying 1.2 million feet of boom, dispersing chemicals to remove the oil from the water, conducting controlled burns and skimming the oil from the water’s surface.
The operator of the Macondo oil well, BP reports that its oil spill reponse efforts have cost the British company $450 million to date.