BP hopes for LMRP cap to capture most of oil spilling into gulf

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 1 -- BP PLC on June 1 used remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in preparations for cutting and separating the damaged Deepwater Horizon riser from the failed blowout preventer (BOP) to collect oil and gas spilling from the runaway deepwater well.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US, BP announced its “top kill” operation failed to halt the flow of oil and gas from the runaway Macondo well (OGJ Online, May 29, 2010).

An Apr. 20 fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, which was drilling for BP and its partners. The Deepwater Horizon sank Apr. 22. Following the failed top kill operation, crews moved to deploy a Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) cap containment system.

Plans call for connecting the containment cap to a riser from Transocean’s Discoverer Enterprise drillship and then placing that cap over the existing BOP’s LMRP once the damaged riser has been cut off and moved away.

“All of these operations, including the cutting of the riser, are complex, involve risks and uncertainties,” BP said. “It is currently anticipated that attachment of the LMRP cap will be attempted later this week; however, operational delays could impact anticipated timeframes.”

BP expects the LMRP cap system will capture most of the oil and gas flowing from the Macondo well in 5,000 ft of water on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. BP estimates cost of the response as of June 1 at $990 million.

The riser insertion tube tool, previously used to collect leaking oil and gas, will not be reinserted into the main leak at the end of the riser, BP said. The riser insertion tool was pulled from the riser during the top kill operation.

Meanwhile, the first relief well, which started on May 2, had reached 12,090 ft as of June 1. The second relief well, which started on May 16, had reached 8,576 ft before drilling was temporarily suspended during top kill operations. It resumed drilling on May 30.

BP outlines LMRP enhancements
BP consulted with federal officials and decided to enhance its LMRP containment system. The company issued a June 1 news release outlining the planned enhancements.

The first addition will be to use the hoses and manifold already implemented during the top kill operation. These hoses and manifold will take oil and gas from the BOP through a separate riser to a vessel on the surface.

“This system, which currently is expected to be available for deployment in mid-June, is intended to increase the overall efficiency of the containment operation by possibly increasing the amount of oil and gas flow that can be captured from the well,” BP said.

Plans also are being made in case that equipment would have to be moved in the event of a hurricane striking the gulf. June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. BP plans to use a free-standing riser ending 300 ft below sea level. A flexible hose then will be attached from the riser to a containment vessel.

“This long-term option is designed to permit the system to more effectively disconnect and reconnect the riser to provide the greatest flexibility for operations during a hurricane,” BP said. “Implementation of this enhancement is expected in late June or early July.”

USCG monitoring
As a result of oil-spill trajectory forecasts, the US Coast Guard increased spill surveillance efforts by both air and sea.

Work continues to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea and to protect shorelines. Additional beach support teams were mobilized. Oil had reached more than 100 miles of Louisiana shore as of May 29, USCG Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.

More than 1,600 vessels were involved in the response effort, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels. Skimming operations recovered a total of 321,000 bbl of oily liquid as of June 1.

More than 1.9 million ft of containment boom was deployed, and an additional 1.8 million ft of sorbent boom also was deployed.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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