BP provides post-Isaac update for Gulf Coast operations

Hurricane Isaac uncovered limited amounts of residual oil associated with the 2010 Macondo deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP PLC said Sept. 11, adding that the Macondo oil had been buried in isolated stretches of shoreline where BP had been cleaning before Isaac made landfall.

With cleanup crews already in the field, BP has submitted a plan for deep cleaning, BP said.

“It was not unexpected to find Macondo oil in areas where we were working before the storm,” said Mike Utsler, president of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization.

BP has spent $14 billion and invested 66 million personnel hours in Macondo spill cleanup operations. “We’re still working. We’re still committed,” Utsler said. “In July 2010, early in the cleanup, Tropical Storm Bonnie pushed tons of sand toward the shore, burying some of the oil we were working to clean up. Now, 2 years later, Hurricane Isaac has moved sand again and uncovered some buried tar mats.”

There have been no reports of tar mats exposed on Gulf Coast beaches where BP was permitted to clean to depths of 5 ft. BP now proposes similar deep cleaning in certain areas of Louisiana where the company was previously not allowed to clean beyond 18 in. in depth.

“It is our belief that Isaac has now changed the dynamics by removing sand that covered those tar mats,” Utsler said. “We now have the ability to go in and clean without the same degree of environmental impact.”

Utsler noted waves and tides were starting to redeposit sand and silt on top of the Macondo material. BP wants permission to clean deeper on some of the other areas where deeply buried tar mats were exposed by Isaac.

Gulf production reinstated

Government reports indicated that most of the gulf oil and gas production is returning to normal after Isaac. Previously, industry had shut in most offshore crude oil and natural gas production before Hurricane Isaac made its first landfall in Plaquemines Parish, La., Aug. 28 as a slow-moving Category 1 hurricane.

Louisiana received the brunt of Isaac's 70 mph winds and heavy rain (OGJ Online, Aug. 29, 2012).

In its final update of evacuation and shut-in production statistics for Isaac, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reported 57,439 b/d, or 4.16% of oil production remained shut in as of 11:30 a.m. CDT Sept. 11 along with 213 MMcfd, or 4.73%, of gas production.

Workers remained evacuated from two platforms and from one rig.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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