Containing the leak
BP worked with experts from the industry, government and academia to develop and implement efforts to stop the leak, contain the oil and permanently kill the well
Within days of the accident occurring, the US federal government established a Unified Area Command to manage the response effort and communications. The Unified Area Command members included BP, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi and the US Coast Guard. These members worked closely with the Department of the Interior, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency and many other US federal departments and agencies.
BP, working under the direction of the federal government and closely with specialists from peer companies, governmental agencies and academia, tackled the leak in multiple, parallel ways. After the accident, teams immediately set to work to stop the leak at the source, plan relief wells and develop a suite of options to stop or contain and recover the flow. Within weeks, we had begun work on the drilling of two relief wells. We also employed multiple techniques to expedite the containment of the leak, including fitting caps on the well, using containment systems that pipe oil to vessels on the surface, and sealing the well through the static kill procedure.
How much oil was spilled?
Before the well was contained on 15 July 2010, a substantial amount of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The US government and third parties have announced various estimates of the flow rate or total volume of oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon incident. The quantification of oil spilled into the Gulf was one of the issues in phase 2 of the multi-district litigation. The evidence in that phase showed that the government’s estimate of approximately five million barrels is severely flawed and substantially overstated. BP demonstrated that approximately 3.26 million barrels of oil were released. Because 810,000 barrels were collected by BP and government responders before even entering Gulf waters, the court and parties agree this amount should not be counted towards any penalty under the Clean Water Act. The court has not yet ruled on phase 2 of the trial.
How the leak was contained
Installing the sealing cap involved a multiple stage process with several vessels and remotely operated vehicles over a four to seven day period. The sealing cap had the potential to increase oil and gas collection capacity and was designed to improve collection efficiency during the hurricane season by allowing shorter disconnect and reconnect times. The new cap assembly was also designed to have a positive impact on any potential well kill and cementing procedures required during relief well operations. In addition, the new cap enabled testing of well integrity and, depending on pressure measurements, could have been used to shut in the well.
Below are several items that should help you learn more about the sealing cap:
Sealing cap operation
Footage from ROV cameras, during the installation of the sealing cap.
In addition, here are several ROV clips showing the free standing riser installed subsea which were connected to the Helix Producer vessel. The Helix Producer collection system, combined with the sealing cap, created a more efficient operation if needed during a hurricane.