USCG: Macondo plug-and-abandonment continuing until Nov. 30

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Oct. 28 -- Plugging-and-abandonment activities on the deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico tentatively are expected to continue until Nov. 30, a US Coast Guard spokesman said during a weekly media briefing.

The federal on-scene coordinator for the spill response, USCS Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said some 11,200 people currently remain involved with response efforts following the Apr. 20 Macondo blowout and subsequent explosion and fire to Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, killing 11 workers and resulting in a massive oil spill.

The Development Driller II and Development Driller III semis are on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 doing work and going through decontamination along with the Discovery Enterprise drillship, he said. Transocean owns all three.

During the spill, the Discovery Enterprise received Macondo oil and gas diverted by collection systems from leaking into the gulf. The drillship then flared that oil and gas. BP PLC operated the Macondo well, which has been permanently sealed.

“So the hull of the vessel is being cleaned,” Zukunft said of the Discovery Enterprise. “As it’s being cleaned, we boom it off to make sure that we’re skimming any oil that comes off the hull to mitigate any environmental impact.”

Meanwhile, workers continue retrieving some other spill response equipment from the seabed. He did not elaborate on details of that equipment.

Regarding ongoing beach cleanup efforts, he said the goal is to have beaches in Florida and Alabama cleaned by Dec. 31. Work continues on marsh cleanup in Mississippi and Louisiana, he said. Some of the heaviest oiling of Louisiana marsh involves Bay Jimmy in Barataria Bay.

Meanwhile, analysis of a recent algae bloom in West Bay off the Mississippi River Delta indicated no presence of Macondo oil.

“When you have a red algae bloom, it looks very similar to that orange emulsified oil that we had at the peak of the spill,” Zukunft said. “Since it was an algae bloom, there was no [oil] recovery operation required.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.



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