In the face of the storm, BP works toward enhanced oil spill containment measures

By Phaedra Friend Troy

As the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season ramps up with the first major storm expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico Monday, BP continues to make progress with its enhanced oil spill containment measures

For comprehensive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon incident, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts under way to resolve them, visit PennEnergy's Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico special section.

Earlier this month, US regulatory officials ordered the company to provide a better plan and design for oil spill containment processes should a hurricane hit.

BP has been working on the “next step” in its oil spill containment measures, which includes a floating riser containment system connected to the Helix Producer I Floating Production Unit (FPU). Preparations for this effort are on schedule to deploy as early as next week.

The reason why the Helix Producer I FPU offers a better solution for the hurricane season than the Discoverer Enterprise drillship is because the FPU can evacuate more quickly in the face of the storm.

“Depending on the type of vessel that's out there it's going to take either a shorter or a longer time to be able to get off the scene and disconnect,” Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander for the Deepwater BP Oil Spill response said.

The Discoverer Enterprise could take up to a week to disconnect and sail to safety.

“That means we're going to have to look at the tracks of these storms, look at the probabilities, and have to act very early on,” he added. “If you kind of look at the area between the Yucatan Channel, Cuba, and the Straits of Florida, that's kind of a radius or a parameter. Anything approaching that area with a structure that could fall in that area should prompt some action at that point.”

Expected to be “extremely active,” the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season started in June and runs through November. Experts have predicted that there may be as many as 23 named storms this year.

Learn more about the tropical cyclone on its way to the Gulf of Mexico by watching PennEnergy’s daily Global Offshore Weather Report powered by ImpactWeather.

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