Containing the leak

Discoverer Inspiration arrives to install the capping stack - July 2010

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 U.S. 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 U.S. Coast Guard. These members worked closely with the Department of the Interior, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many other U.S. 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?

The volume of oil spilled into the Gulf was one of the issues in phase 2 of the multi-district litigation. In January 2015, the district court found that 3.19 million barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico and therefore subject to a Clean Water Act penalty. In addition, the court found that BP was not grossly negligent in its source control efforts.

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.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2014 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.