Riser insertion tool is now capturing 2,000 barrels of oil a day

By Phaedra Friend Troy

BP reported that the riser insertion tube tool containment system is now capturing about 2,000 barrels a day of the oil that is spilling from the Macondo well in the US Gulf of Mexico.

An inovative subsea effort, oil spill responders fabricated a 4-inch-diamter pipe that was introduced into the broken drilling riser 5,000 feet below the water’s surface. The riser insertion tube tool is directing about 2,000 barrels of oil from the spill to the Deepwater Enterprise drillship, which then processes the petroleum, removing the water and flaring associated natural gas.

Just yesterday, the tool was collecting 1,000 barrels of oil a day. The oil-water flow that the riser insertion tool is capturing is slowly being increased.

While the insertion tool has seen successes for the last three days, BP stressed that the technology is new and its effectiveness is uncertain. Other oil spill containment systems are still being developed.

Also, BP hopes to shut the oil off at the wellhead through blowout preventer (BOP). While the insertion tool is capturing some 40 percent of the oil leaking into the Gulf, should the BOP be shut off, the broken drilling riser would no longer be leaking.

Options to activate the BOP include a “top kill” procedure where heavy drilling fluids would be injected into the well to slow the flow of oil, and then the well would be cemented – permanently plugged. BP reports that most of the equipment for this procedure is on site, with plans to deploy this solution within the next week.



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