BP reports delays in cutting off Deepwater Horizon riser

(June 3 update: the saw was freed and cut was made with shears)

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 2 -- BP PLC successfully made the first of two cuts in the damaged Deepwater Horizon riser on the seabed, but while making the second cut, crews reported the diamond-wire saw was binding as it moved horizontally through the riser, said National Incident Commander and Adm. Thad Allen.

“The cleaner the cut, the tighter the seal we can make,” Allen said, adding that the goal is to finish making the horizontal cut on June 2 so that a cap can be placed on top of the failed blowout preventer’s lower marine riser package (LMRP) to enable the collection of oil and gas flowing from the runaway Macondo well. Collected oil and gas will go to a drillship.

Crews were trying to reposition the riser so the saw could move again, he said, adding it was possible that the saw might have to be brought to the surface to resolve the problem.

In other news, Allen confirmed that oil had reached Petit Bois Island, a barrier island in the Mississippi Sound near the Mississippi-Alabama border. Oil previously reached shore in Louisiana and Alabama. There are some reports of oil on Pensacola beach in Florida, but Allen said officials have yet to confirm those reports.

An Apr. 20 fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, which was drilling for BP and its partners, left 11 crew members dead. The Deepwater Horizon sank Apr. 22. Following a May 29 announcement that the “top kill” operation had failed to stem the flow from the leaking well, crews moved to deploy a LMRP cap containment system.

Various caps are sitting on the seabed in 5,000 ft of water, and the one that will be used is dependent upon the flatness and smoothness of the cut across the failed BOP’s LMRP, BP executives have said (OGJ Online, June 1, 2010).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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