Efforts continue on Gulf spill

2 min read

BP is continuing to deploy new technologies to contain the spill from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and to seal the oil well.

BP claimed today it has made progress in containing the catastrophic oil spill in Gulf of Mexico that resulted from a rig exploding one month ago.

The oil giant stated it put in place a riser insertion tube tool (RITT) containment system in the end of the leaking riser yesterday. Efforts were made during the day to flow the oil and gas through the tool up to the drillship Discoverer Enterprise on the surface 5,000 feet above.

Any oil produced is currently being stored on the drillship while produced gas is being flared. BP has stated it will take some time to increase the flow through the system and maximise the proportion of oil and gas flowing through the broken riser that will be captured and transported to the drillship.

The RITT is fabricated from a 10cm diameter pipe fashioned to allow one end to be inserted into the broken riser pipe that is the source of the main oil flow from the well, and the other to be connected to a drill pipe and riser from the Discoverer Enterprise. The system allows the injection of methanol to mitigate against the formation of gas hydrates.

BP warns this remains a new technology and both its continued operation and its effectiveness in capturing the oil and gas remains uncertain. Therefore other containment options will continue to be considered and implemented.

The company is continuing to develop  plan known as a ‘top kill’ operation where heavy drilling fluids will be injected into the failed well to stem the flow of oil and gas, followed by cement to seal the well.

There are also ideas to combine this with a so-called ‘junk shot’, the injection under pressure of a variety of materials into the well’s failed blow out preventer (BOP) to seal off upward flow.

These options could be deployed in the next week or so.

BP is also continuing efforts to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea. The massive endeavour has included the use of 650 vessels including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.

So far the company claims to have skimmed 151,000 barrels (6.3 million gallons) of oily liquid from the surface of the water.

In total over 19,000 personnel from BP, other companies and government agencies are currently involved in the response to this incident. So far 15,000 claims have been filed and 2,600 have already been paid. BP has also received almost 60,000 calls into its help lines.

Meanwhile in Washington, the Obama administration is making efforts to ensure BP covers the entire cost of the clean up effort. In a letter released yesterday the administration warned BP should not make attempts to shirk  financial responsibility using a $75m (£51.5m) liability cap devised following the Exxon Valdez spill to assist oil companies in the event of disaster.

The stock market reacted well to BPs positive news about the clean up effort. Shares in the oil giant rose 1.9 per cent today.