BP 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 steps to stop the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the failed Deepwater Horizon blow out preventer (BOP), and to collect the flow of oil from the leak points. These efforts are being carried out in conjunction with industry experts and governmental authorities.
Operations on the top kill procedure continue. Heavy drilling fluids were pumped under pressure into the BOP starting May 26 at 1300CDT, and top kill operations continue through 2400CDT on May 27. It is estimated that the full top kill procedure could extend for another 24 to 48 hours.
If the well were successfully 'killed', it is expected that cementing operations would then follow. The top kill procedure has never before been attempted at these depths and its ultimate success is uncertain.
In parallel with the ongoing top kill operation, preparations have been made for the possible deployment of the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system.
Deployment would first involve removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed BOP to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP. The cap, a containment device with a sealing grommet, will be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, 5,000 feet above on the surface, and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.
The LMRP cap is already deployed alongside the BOP in readiness for potential deployment. If it is decided to deploy this option, this would be expected to take some three to four days.
In addition to these steps, planning is being advanced for deploying, if necessary, a second BOP on top of the original failed BOP.
Drilling of two relief wells began on May 2 and May 16. It is estimated that each of these wells will take three months to complete from the commencement of drilling.
Surface Spill Response and Containment
Work continues to collect and disperse oil that has reached the surface of the sea, to protect the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, and to collect and clean up any oil that has reached shore.
Almost 1,300 vessels are now involved in the response effort, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels. Operations to skim oil from the surface of the water have now recovered, in total, some 274,000 barrels (11.5 million gallons) of oily liquid.
The total length of containment boom deployed as part of efforts to prevent oil reaching the coast is now almost 1.9 million feet, and an additional 1.25 million feet of sorbent boom has also been deployed.
So far 26,000 claims have been filed and 11,650 payments have already been made. BP has received over 96,000 calls into its help lines to date.