Oil sheen spreads after rig fire, collapse in gulf

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Apr. 27 -- Spilled oil from the BP PLC well drilled by Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible rig spread to a 600-mile circumference rainbow sheen with areas of emulsified crude oil 36 miles off Louisiana, response officials said Apr. 27.

The cause of an Apr. 20 explosion and fire on the rig remains under investigation. The semi rig sank Apr. 22 on Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

Eleven crew members remain missing and presumed dead, and 17 people were injured with one person still in the hospital as of Apr. 26. A total of 115 people evacuated the rig to nearby supply vessels.

The drilling rig Development Driller III was being moved into position to drill a well to intercept the Macondo exploration well and inject a specialized heavy fluid to prevent flow of oil and gas. Workers then planned to permanently seal the original well.

BP and Transocean also are using remotely operated vehicles in an attempt to activate a seabed blowout preventer on the well. In addition, they are designing and building an underwater dome to contain the oil, which then would be moved by pipe to the surface.

The rig is resting on the ocean floor about 1,300 ft from the wellhead. Response officials estimate a total of 1,000 b/d of oil is being released.

“The safety of the people working offshore is our top priority and the improved weather has created better conditions for our response,” said BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward. “This, combined with the light, thin oil we are dealing with has further increased our confidence that we can tackle this spill offshore.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts have described the spilled oil as “very thin” and consisting of “97% sheen.”

Congressional inquiry requested
Three members of the US Senate requested a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Energy committees on offshore oil and gas safety oversight. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) made their request in an Apr. 26 letter.

“The explosion, ensuring fire, and continuing spill raise serious concerns about the industry’s claims that their operations and technology are safe enough to put rigs in areas that are environmentally sensitive or are critical to tourism or fishing industries,” the senators said in the letter.

They noted that the Deepwater Horizon incident was “certainly not an isolated incident.” The US Minerals Management service reports 509 fires caused at least 2 fatalities and 12 serious injuries on rigs in the gulf since 2006.

The US Coast Guard reported the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response team had recovered 1,152 bbl of an oil-water mixture. About 50 vessels, including skimmers, tugs, and barges continued recovery operations. More than 29,280 ft of boom was assembled to contain the spill with more was available if needed.

Some 29,140 gal of dispersant had been deployed and another 119,734 gal was available.

Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include: Biloxi, Miss.; Pensacola, Fla.; Venice, La.; Pascagoula, Miss.; and Theodore, Ala.

A field operations response office was set up in Houma, La., and more than 1,000 people are involved in the response effort both on and offshore, USCG said on Apr. 27.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

Obama makes Alaska’s Bristol Bay off-limits for oil, gas activity

12/17/2014 US President Barack Obama placed Bristol Bay off-limits for future oil and gas leasing, extending a temporary withdrawal he imposed in 2010 that wa...

New York state moves to ban hydraulic fracturing

12/17/2014 High-volume hydraulic fracturing will be banned in the state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced Dec. 17, citing health risks...

BPC report examines 40 possible options to reform RFS

12/16/2014 The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a report outlining 40 possible options for reforming the federal Renewable Fuels Standard in an effort to move ...

Senate passes Defense bill with BLM drilling permit program provision

12/15/2014 The US Senate approved a Department of Defense appropriations bill on Dec. 13 containing a provision extending and making permanent a drilling perm...

Mitigating methane

12/15/2014

Among greenhouse gases, methane should be particularly amenable to deliberate cuts in emissions.

Study: To cool climate, eat less less meat, milk

12/15/2014

Meeting stated goals for Earth's climate requires not only using pricey energy but also spurning animal protein.

API: Producers reducing methane emissions already

12/15/2014 US oil and gas producers are reducing wellhead methane emissions already and don't need ill-conceived, overly prescriptive federal regulations, Ame...

A message from Oil & Gas Journal

12/15/2014

An important transition occurred during production of this issue of Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected