BP working to establish redundancy in oil spill efforts

Federal officials and BP PLC are discussing the timing of BP’s efforts to establish additional capacity to collect more oil and natural gas from the deepwater Macondo blowout well.

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 14 -- Federal officials and BP PLC are discussing the timing of BP’s efforts to establish additional capacity to collect more oil and natural gas from the deepwater Macondo blowout well. BP also is establishing redundant systems for the containment of oil diverted from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Preparations are under way for a more-permanent and flexible containment system that will employ two floating risers. Another manifold was deployed on the seabed and a suction pile to anchor a riser also was installed. The floating riser systems are expected to begin operating by early July.

BP said the floating risers will enable surface vessels to be disconnected temporarily and moved in the event of a hurricane striking the gulf. Federal officials are reviewing plans that eventually would enable BP to collect as much as 40,000-50,000 b/d of oil.

As of June 12, BP said it collected about 15,000 b/d of oil and flared 32.9 MMcfd of gas through the existing lower marine riser package cap. The total volume of oil collected by the LMRP cap system since it began operation is 127,000 bbl. BP reports that 22,000 bbl of oil previously was collected through use of the riser insertion tube tool, which no longer is being used.

The Massachusetts oil barge left Mississippi Canyon Block 252 on June 11 to discharge 115,000 bbl of the collected oil at a terminal in Mobile, Ala.

The Q4000 direct connect will collect additional oil and gas in addition to the LMRP cap system. The direct connect system will take oil and gas from the choke line of the failed Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer (BOP) through a separate riser to the Q4000 vessel on the surface (OGJ Online, June 10, 2010).

Both oil and gas captured by this additional system are expected to be flared through a specialized clean-burning system. BP said on June 14 that the Q4000 direct connection was anticipated “to begin operations in the next few days.”

The first relief well, which spudded May 2, reached a depth of 13,978 ft of its 18,000 ft TD target. The second relief well, spudded May 16, is at 9,022 ft. Each relief well is estimated to take 3 months to complete.

Skimming efforts intensify
Spill response officials increased skimming and beach cleanup activities in Alabama because emulsified oil came ashore in Orange Beach, Gulf State Park, and Bon Secour. More than 400 skimmers are deployed to remove an oil-water mix from the gulf.

A group of vessels, including skimmers, is working south of Gulf Shores, Ala., Perdido Pass, Fla., and Petit Bois Island, Miss., among other areas, to boom and skim oil. Night skimming operations will be pursued if weather permits, National Incident Commander and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.

“We continue to try and mobilize resources. I’ve impaneled a strategic resource team to take a look at our assets…all around the country,” Allen said. “Nationally there are a little over 2,000 skimmers or skimming type vehicles out there that are potentially available for use.”

Skimming operations recovered a total of about 20 million gal of oily liquid since the spill started, he said. Crews burned 3.8 million gal of oil on the open water and applied more than 1 million gal of chemical dispersant total through surface and subsea applications.

BP has spent $1.6 billion on the oil spill response. This includes new grants of $25 million each to the states of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi and the first $60 million in funds for the Louisiana barrier islands construction project. It is too early to estimate eventual total costs, the company said.

More than 27,000 people are involved in the oil spill response efforts. This includes 1,200 Coast Guard members and 1,400 National Guard members, Allen said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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