BP plans to collect 40,000-53,000 b/d from gulf oil spill

BP PLC has provided the US Coast Guard with plans to collect 40,000-53,000 b/d of oil by June 30 from the deepwater Macondo blowout well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico.

(story was updated, Enterprise resumes operations after fire, Jones Act waiver details)

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 15 -- BP PLC has provided the US Coast Guard with plans to collect 40,000-53,000 b/d of oil by June 30 from the deepwater Macondo blowout well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico.

This range of oil expected to be collected represents installed design capacities of various drillships, tankers, and multiservice vessels that BP is using or plans to use. “Any unplanned events will impact actual delivery,” of oil volumes, BP said in a June 12 letter to USCG Rear Adm. James A. Watson.

By mid-July, BP plans for total possible collection capacity of 60,000-80,000 b/d. BP said it is moving a floating, production, storage, and offloading vessel from South America. The FPSO has a capacity of 25,000 b/d, and it will take an estimated 4 weeks to arrive. Ownership details on the FPSO were not disclosed.

The FPSO will provide redundancy in case of failure of the Toisa Pisces or the Helix Producer, BP said in a letter to Watson. The collection systems are being put in place pending completion of at least one of two relief wells currently being drilled, BP said.

The Helix Producer is a 528-ft floating production unit with 45,000 b/d of capacity. BP has a contract for at least 60 days for the Helix Producer with its owner, Houston-based Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. Plans are for the Helix Producer to load oil onto the Toisa Pisces, a Liberian-flagged well testing and service vessel owned by Sealion Shipping Ltd. The Toisa Pisces can produce 20,000-25,000 b/d of oil.

The Helix Producer and Toisa Pisces are expected to be working by June 30 on the oil spill, which resulted from an Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well, and a resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible. Eleven crew members died in the blast. The semi sank Apr. 22.

Currently, a lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap on the failed Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer is collecting oil and gas that goes to the Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drillship, which can process from 15,000-18,000 b/d of oil.

BP said the Q4000, a multiservice vessel owned by Helix, will collect 5,000-10,000 b/d of oil. For a few weeks, this oil will be burned using a clean-burning system until floating production units and tankers can be put into place.

In the future, BP also plans to use the Discoverer Leader, another Transocean deepwater drillship. It will be able to process 10,000-15,000 b/d of oil.

Containment operations were temporarily halted June 15 on the Discoverer Enterprise. A small fire at 9:30 a.m. CDT on the top of the Enterprise derrick quickly was extinguished. A preliminary review indicates the fire was caused by a lightning strike, BP said.

There were no injuries. All procedures were followed and, as a precaution, the LMRP containment operation was shut down temporarily. All safety systems operated as designed, BP said. Following safety and operational assurance inspections, containment operations resumed at about 2:15 p.m. CDT, BP said.

Separately, National Incident Commander and retired USCG Adm. Thad Allen said 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the oil spill response. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of the vessels had required such a waiver to work in the gulf. But, Allen said he provided guidance to the US Maritime Administration and other federal agencies to ensure any Jones Act waiver requests receive urgent attention and processing.

"While we have not seen any need to waive the Jones Act...we continue to prepare for all possible scenarios," Allen said on June 15.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

More in HSE