Oil spill containment efforts continue, planned enhancements progress

By Phaedra Friend Troy 

Oil spill containment measures continue, with the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap successfully capturing oil and natural gas flowing from the damaged Macondo well in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

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.

In the first 12 hours of June 13, the oil spill cap transferred 7,720 barrels of oil and 16.9 million cubic feet of natural gas to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship. On June 12, 15,000 barrels of oil were collected and 32.9 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

Since its deployment on the damaged Macondo well, the LMRP oil spill containment cap has captured some 127,000 barrels of oil. This is in addition to the 22,000 barrels of oil the riser insertion tube tool captured before the LMRP was deployed.

The Discoverer Enterprise has transferred some 115,000 barrels of collected oil to the barge Massachusetts between June 9 and 11. The barge is on its way to an oil terminal in Mobile, Alabama to discharge the oil and will return to the Mississippi Canyon 252 site after that.

Oil Spill Containment Enhancements Planned

For deployment by the end of June or early July, the first enhancement to the oil spill containment system is to add another riser to transport oil to the surface. This addition will capture oil and natural gas from the choke line of the blowout preventer (BOP) and transfer it through a separate riser to the Q4000 vessel above.

Also, preparations are ongoing for a more permanent and flexible oil spill containment systems that will use floating risers.

In this effort, a subsea manifold has been installed on the seafloor, and a suction pile has been deployed to anchor the riser. Operations are expected to be completed on the floating risers by the end of June or beginning of July.

Additionally, Helix Energy Solutions reported that BP has contracted the Helix Producer I Floating Production Unit (FPU) to help with the oil spill containment effort. This vessel will be able to collect and process the oil and natural gas from the Macondo well, as well as offload it to a tanker for transfer to an onshore refinery.

Drilling Continues on the Macondo Relief Wells

Furthermore, the drilling continues on the two relief wells in an effort to reduce the pressure in the Macondo oil and gas reservoir and, therefore, reduce the amount of hydrocarbons flowing from the damaged well.

The first relief well has reached a total depth of 13,978 feet, while the second has reached a total depth of 9,022 feet. Both are expected to be completed in three months total, which would put the completion dates for the wells at the beginning of August and the middle of August.



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