BP reports its riser insertion tool to contain oil spill is working

A riser insertion tube successfully was inserted on the seabed to capture some of oil and gas leaking from the deepwater blowout, BP said May 16, adding that oil was stored on board Transocean Ltd.’s Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 16 – A riser insertion tube successfully was inserted on the seabed to capture some of oil and gas leaking from the deepwater blowout, BP said May 16, adding that oil was stored on board Transocean Ltd.’s Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

Natural gas was burned through a flare system on the drillship. Earlier on May 16, the tube was dislodged temporarily, but technicians used remotely operated vehicles to reinsert the tool, fashioned from a 4-in pipe and inserted 5 ft into the leaking riser.

While not collecting all of the leaking oil and gas, use of the containment tool is a positive step in reducing the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, BP said during a May 16 news conference from its Houston offices. There also is a leak from the wellhead as well as from the damaged riser.

Methanol and warm water from the surface also were used to help prevent the formation of gas hydrates. It was not immediately clear how much of the leaking oil is being collected. An estimated 5,000 b/d is spilling into the gulf.

Transocean’s semisubmersible rig, Deepwater Horizon, drilled the runaway Macondo oil and gas well in 5,000 ft. on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. The rig exploded Apr. 20, leaving 11 crew members missing and presumed dead. On Apr. 22, the Deepwater Horizon sank.

BP plans to kill flow in 7-10 days
Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president of exploration and production, said BP’s first priority remains to kill the flow from the well. An effort to pump kill mud into the wellhead through choke and kill lines on the existing blowout preventer will be attempted in 7-10 days, Wells told reporters on May 16.

He also clarified that a “junk shot” in which various items will be pumped inside the BOP might or might not be done. Wells said the first plan is to try to stop the flow using kill mud followed by cement to seal the well.

“We can pump mud faster than the well can flow,” Wells said, adding the mud will go through the choke and kill lines.

A control pod was retrieved from the BOP and was brought to the surface where it’s being reconfigured to ensure that BP can electronically control a series of valves in the choke and kill lines while it pumps mud into the well.

Wells said 50,000 bbl of kill mud will be available, but that he doubts that much will be needed.
Contact Paula Dittrick at pauld@ogjonline.com

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