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Macondo containment cap collects oil; enhancements planned

Author : Paul Gay

08 June 2010

BP is increasing the amount of oil it is capturing from its leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Figures released by the company this week suggest that the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap, installed on June 3, continues to collect oil and gas flowing from the well and transport them to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface.

Transocean's Discoverer Enterprise drillship
Transocean's Discoverer Enterprise drillship

On June 5, a total of 10,500 barrels of oil was collected and 22 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared. From June 3 through June 5, the volume of oil collected was 16,600 barrels and 32.7 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared. Optimisation continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next several days, the company said.

This is the first time an LMRP containment cap has been deployed 5,000 feet under water (follow the link below to the BP animation of LMRP deployment). The cap's efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured and preparations for additional planned enhancements to the system continue to progress.

The first planned addition will use the hoses and manifold that were deployed for the so called ‘top kill’ operation to take oil and gas from the failed blow-out preventer (BOP) through a separate riser to the Q4000 vessel on the surface, in addition to the LMRP cap system. This system is intended to increase the overall efficiency of the containment operation by possibly increasing the amount of oil and gas that can be captured from the well and is currently expected to be available for deployment in mid-June.

The second planned addition is intended to provide a more permanent LMRP containment cap system by directing the oil and gas to a new free-floating riser ending approximately 300 feet below sea level. A flexible hose then will be attached to a containment vessel. This long-term containment option is designed to permit more effective disconnection and reconnection of the riser to provide the greatest flexibility for operations during a hurricane and is expected to be implemented in early July.

In the meantime, work on the first relief well, which started May 2, continues and has currently reached a depth of 12,956 feet. The second relief well, which started May 16, is at 8,576 feet, and testing of the BOP is continuing. Both wells are still estimated to take approximately three months to complete from commencement of drilling.

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