BP today provided an update on developments in the response to the MC252 oil well incident in the Gulf of Mexico.
Subsea efforts continue to focus on, firstly, progressing options to stop the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the blow out preventer (BOP) and, secondly, attempts to contain the flow of oil at source to reduce the amount spreading on the surface. These efforts are being carried out in conjunction with governmental authorities and other industry experts.
Further investigation of the failed BOP, using remotely-operated vehicles and a variety of diagnostic techniques, has increased our understanding of the condition of the BOP and allowed planning to continue for a number of potential interventions, including for a so-called “top kill” of the well.
This would involve first injecting material of varying densities and sizes (also known as “junk shot”) into the internal spaces of the BOP to provide a seal, before pumping specialised heavy fluids into the well to prevent further flow up the well. Plans for this option are being developed in preparation for potential application next week.
Work to deploy a second system designed to contain the oil flow subsea has continued. A small dome or “top hat” has been taken out to the well site and placed on the seabed in preparation for deployment. Such a system has never been used in water depths of 5,000 feet and its successful operation is not certain. The deployment of this system is expected to be attempted within the next few days.
All of the techniques being attempted or evaluated to contain the flow of oil on the seabed involve significant uncertainties because they have not been tested in these conditions before.
Work on the first relief well, which began on Sunday May 2, continues. It is expected to take some three months to complete. The drilling rig that will drill the second relief well is currently en route to the site, expected to arrive by Friday.
Work continues to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea. Over 530 vessels are involved in the response effort, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.
Over 120 flights have been made to apply dispersant to the spill since the response effort began.
Intensive operations to skim oil from the surface of the water also continued. Some 97,000 barrels of oily liquid have now been recovered.
The total length of boom deployed as part of efforts to prevent oil reaching the coast is now more than 1.2 million feet, with a further 400,000 feet staged in readiness for deployment.
In total over 13,000 personnel from BP, other companies and government agencies are currently involved in the response to this incident. Over 16,000 people have registered to volunteer across four states. So far 6,700 claims have been filed, of which about 1,000 have already been paid. BP has also received 46,500 calls into its help lines, approximately 30 per cent of which have offered ideas to help the response or other assistance.
The cost to date of the response amounts to about $450 million, including the cost of spill response, containment, relief well drilling, commitments to the Gulf Coast States, settlements and federal costs.