BP Spill Containment Update

by Hans | June 14th, 2010

BP will begin using a second vessel and containment system to attack an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico on June 14 as engineers try to increase the amount of oil and gas being captured from the damaged well, a Coast Guard official said on June 9.

Using the same tubes and pipes put in place to try the failed “top kill” method of stopping the oil by pumping mud into the blown-out Maconda well, engineers will instead suck oil out of the well and to a ship, called the Q4000, on the water’s surface. The Q4000 was also used in the top kill process.

The second containment system will boost the amount of oil being captured to as much as 28,000 barrels of oil per day, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen reported on June 9, providing the first official acknowledgment that the amount of oil gushing from the pipe may exceed governmental estimates. The 28,000 barrels-per-day figure is derived by combining the up to 10,000 barrel-per-day capacity expected of the Q4000 containment system with the 18,000 barrel-per-day capacity of the Discoverer Enterprise, the vessel now collecting oil via the Lower Marine Riser Package containment system, or containment cap, put in place June 3.

If the dual containment approach does reach 28,000 barrels of oil, it will have exceeded a team of scientists’ top estimate of the oil’s flow rate. Meanwhile, two other vessels that will be part of BP’s long-term plan for oil containment are en route to the accident site. The Loch Rannoch, a shuttle tanker traveling from the North Sea, will arrive between June 12 and June 15, Allen said. The Toisa Pisces, a production ship, will be on the scene about June 19.

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