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 progressing options to stop the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the blow out preventer (BOP), and to collect the flow of oil from the leak points. These efforts are being carried out in conjunction with governmental authorities and other industry experts.
The riser insertion tube tool (RITT) containment system that was put into place in the end of the leaking riser is operational. It is estimated to be collecting and carrying about 2,000 barrels a day (b/d) of oil to flow up to the drillship Discoverer Enterprise on the surface 5,000 feet above. Produced oil is being stored on the drillship while produced gas is being flared.
It is expected that 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.
This remains a new technology and both its continued operation and its effectiveness in capturing the oil and gas remain uncertain. Other containment options continue to be progressed.
BP also continues to develop options to shut off the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the failed BOP.
Plans continue to develop a so called "top kill" operation where heavy drilling fluids are injected into the well to stem the flow of oil and gas, followed by cement to seal the well. Most of the equipment is on site and preparations continue for this operation, with a view to deployment in the next week or so. Options have also been developed to potentially combine this with the injection under pressure of a variety of materials into the BOP to seal off upward flow.
Work on the first relief well, which began on May 2, continues. The DDII drilling rig began drilling the second relief well on May 16. Each of these wells is estimated to take some three months to complete from the commencement of drilling.
Work continues to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea. Over 750 vessels are involved in the response effort, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.
Intensive operations to skim oil from the surface of the water have now recovered, in total, some 158,000 barrels (6.6 million gallons) of oily liquid. The total length of boom deployed as part of efforts to prevent oil reaching the coast is now more than 1.7 million feet, including over 400,000 feet of sorbent boom.
In total over 19,000 personnel from BP, other companies and government agencies are currently involved in the response to this incident. So far 15,600 claims have been filed and 2,700 have already been paid.
On 17 May, BP announced further grants, totalling $70 million, to Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to help mitigate the economic impact of the oil spill. Including these grants, the cost of the response to date amounts to about $625 million, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, previous grants to the Gulf states, settlements and federal costs.