Weather delays Deepwater Horizon BOP swap

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Aug. 30
-- Seas with 6-8 ft waves caused BP PLC and its contractors to wait for calmer weather before proceeding with plans to replace Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible blowout preventer with another BOP, a federal spokesman said Aug. 30.

National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said scientists and engineers were concerned about the force that the waves lifting up and down might put on equipment and lines that will lift the BOP off the blown-out Macondo well in 5,000 ft of water on Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

“We are in a hold pending calming of the current weather,” which is related to local weather conditions around the mouth of the Mississippi River and is not related to any tropical weather, Allen said.

He estimated a possible 2-3 day delay before crews might try to remove the capping stack from the BOP and then lift the BOP itself.

The work will be done under supervision of a joint investigation team and the Department of Justice Criminal Investigation Evidence Recovery team. A team of 12 people was expected to be aboard the Helix Q4000 multiservice vessel when the Deepwater Horizon BOP is removed and lifted to the surface.

An Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well resulted in a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 people and setting off an oil spill. No oil has leaked from the well into the gulf since a capping stack was placed on the BOP on July 15.

The Deepwater Horizon BOP is going to be replaced with a stronger BOP before Transocean’s Development Driller III semi completes a relief well to kill the well from the bottom.

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