Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico -- Special Report

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On April 22, an explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in Macondo Exploration Well / Canyon 252 Block 41 miles off the Louisiana coast. A fire raged for about 36 hours before a second blast sank the rig. The well's blowout preventer failed to activate, resulting in the largest oil leak in History.

Macondo Exploration Well / Canyon 252 Block

Location The United States sector of the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 41 miles (66 km) off the Louisiana coast - US
Investment 96,000,000 USD
Announced 3/1/2008
Scope Macondo Well is located in ultra-deepwater Mississippi Canyon 252 Block with a depth of about 5,000 feet. The well drilling depth is 18,000 feet (5,500 m) below sea level. It was planned that the well be plugged and suspended for subsequent completion as a subsea producer.

Development Milestones

3/30/2008 The mineral rights to drill for oil on the Macondo Prospect were purchased by BP at the Minerals Management Service's (MMS), an arm of the United States Department of the Interior that oversees offshore drilling, lease sale.
2/28/2009 BP filed a 52-page exploration and environmental impact plan for the Macondo well with the MMS. The plan stated that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities". In the event an accident did take place the plan stated that due to the well being 48 miles (77 km) from shore and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts would be expected. The Department of the Interior exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact study after concluding that a massive oil spill was unlikely.
6/22/2009 BP engineers had warned from the metal casing for the blowout preventer might collapse under high pressure.
10/7/2009 BP began drilling the Macondo Well with Marianas rig.
11/9/2009 Hurricane Ida damaged Marianas rig which was replaced by Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
2/15/2010 Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig commenced drilling the Macondo Well.
3/30/2010 The rig experienced problems that included drilling mud falling into the undersea oil formation, sudden gas releases, a pipe falling into the well, and at least three occasions of the blowout preventer (BOP) leaking fluid as an accident damaged a gasket on the blowout preventer.
4/9/2010 BP drilled last section with the wellbore 18,360 feet below sea level but the last 1,192 feet need casing. Halliburton recommends Liner/Tieback Casing that will provide 4 redundant barriers to flow. BP chooses to do a single liner with fewer barriers that is faster to install and cheaper.
4/17/2010 Deepwater Horizon completed its drilling and the well was prepared to be cemented so that another rig will retrieve the oil. BP also knew that there were problems with the BOP, which was supposed to shut off the well in the event of an emergency.
4/18/2010 An oil accumulation was discovered on the well and Schlumberger flied a crew to conduct a cement bond log to determine whether the cement has bonded to the casing and surrounding formations.
4/20/2010 An explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the well.
4/22/2010 A second blast sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The well's blowout preventer failed to activate, resulting in an oil leak.
4/25/2010 BP planned to drill two relief wells, a primary and a backup, in the Canyon 252 block. The primary relief well to intersect with the blown-out Macondo well at about 18,000 feet beneath the water's surface, or 13,000 feet beneath the sea floor, and pump it with mud and cement to shut it. If it fails, the backup well would take over. The relief wells are BP's final option to contain or stop the oil escaping from its Macondo well, also the Transocean drilling rig Development Driller III was moved into position to drill a second well, the first of two relief wells. A second drilling rig, Transoceanís Discoverer Enterprise, is en route.
5/2/2010 Work on drilling the first relief well begun, which is estimated to take some three months to complete from the commencement of drilling.
5/5/2010 BP was trying another experimental approach through fabrication of a dome-like containment device to divert oil at the wellhead on the seabed. It is planned to lower the dome over one of the leak sites on the seabed and then connect it by pipe to a specialist vessel at the surface. This system is designed to help capture the oil at the seabed and collect it securely for processing.
5/7/2010 40x24x14 feet steel dome, which weighs almost 100 tons arrived on location and was deployed.
5/16/2010 Work on drilling the second relief well begun, which is estimated to take some three months to complete from the commencement of drilling.
5/17/2010 large formations of gas hydrates, similar to ice crystals, clogged the dome.
5/26/2010 BP started the "top kill" operations to stop the flow of oil from the MC252 well in the Gulf of Mexico at 1300 CDT. The procedure was intended to stem the flow of oil and gas and ultimately kill the well by injecting heavy drilling fluids through the blow-out preventer on the seabed, down into the well.

Also BP decided to move to the deployment of the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap Containment System. The operational plan first involves cutting and then removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed Blow-Out Preventer (BOP) to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOPís LMRP. The cap is designed to be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.
5/31/2010 BP plans to further enhance the LMRP containment system with further measures that are expected to keep additional oil out of the Gulf of Mexico after the placement of the LMRP.
6/3/2010 LMRP was installed successful on top of the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer (BOP). This follows the cutting and removal of the riser pipe from the top of the BOP's.
6/16/2010 A second containment system was attached to the Deepwater Horizon rigís failed blow out preventer (BOP).

This second system supplements the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system, which remains in operation. The new system is connected directly to the BOP and carries oil and gas through a manifold and hoses to the Q4000 vessel on the surface. The Q4000 uses a specialised clean-burning system to flare oil and gas captured by this second system.
6/18/2010 The first relief well has been drilled to 16,000 feet and the second is at 9,778 feet. They're starting to close in on the well, the last thousand feet is a slower process and has to be very exact.
6/23/2010 Approximately 0845 CDT a discharge of liquids was observed from a diverter valve on the drillship Discoverer Enterprise, which is on station at the MC252 wellsite. As a precautionary measure, the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap system, attached to the Discoverer Enterprise, has been moved off the Deepwater Horizonís failed blow-out preventer (BOP) to ensure the safety of operations and allow the unexpected release of liquids to be analysed.
6/25/2010 The first of two relief wells had successfully detected the Macondo well (MC252) and would continue to a target intercept depth of 18,000 feet, when "kill" operations would begin.
6/29/2010 Waves pushed across the US Gulf by Tropical Storm Alex are expected to delay efforts to ramp up oil containment at the Macondo blowout, because of the strong weather, the collection of oil at Macondo would shut down for about 14 days.
7/7/2010 Drilling of the first relief well reached a depth of 17,725 feet while the second relief well, has now reached 13,871 feet. Also it will take few days before the floating production vessel Helix Producer can overcome four to six-foot seas and make its final connection to the Macondo oil well blowout, thereby increasing the oil flow capture rate to 53,000 barrels per day.
7/11/2010 The replacing of the existing lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap over the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer with a new sealing cap assembly has been begun following approval from the National Incident Commande.

The new sealing cap contains three closing rams and multiple ports for connection to additional containment options. The new cap creates the potential to increase oil and gas containment capacity to greater than 50,000 barrels per day and should improve containment efficiency during hurricane season by allowing shorter disconnect and reconnect times.

The installation of the sealing cap will involve a multiple stage process and several vessels and remotely operated vehicles. First, the existing LMRP cap and the remaining riser flange will be removed. Next, a flange transition spool will be installed using the Boa Deep C. Then, using the Discoverer Inspiration, the three-ram capping stack will be connected to the top of the spool.
7/24/2010 Transocean semi-submersible rigs Development Driller 2 and Development Driller 3, which will kill the Macondo blowout in the US Gulf of Mexico, moved out ahead of what was forecast to be heavy seas and winds greater than 40 miles per hour and are returning to the location after Tropical Storm Bonnie weakened.
7/29/2010 The storm packer that was placed in the bore to secure it during Tropical Storm Bonnie is being removed.

Crews on Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller 3 will run the final 2000 feet of 9-7/8 inch casing and cement it in place over the weekend.
8/2/2010 The static top kill operation was delayed again after the discovering of another leak in vital equipment, this time on the hydraulic controls that govern the operation of the capping stack.
8/4/2010 The MC252 reached a static condition a significant milestone. The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, which is the desired outcome of the static kill procedure carried out yesterday (US Central time).

The well is being monitored, per the agreed procedure, to ensure it remains static. Further pumping of mud may be required depending on results observed during monitoring.
8/6/2010 BP completed cementing operations at the MC252 well, which started yesterday, as part of the static kill procedure. Monitoring of the well is underway in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure.
8/10/2010 The threat of a tropical cyclone delayed BPís plan to completely kill the broken well, Macondo Well, using a relief well few days.
8/23/2010 BP tries to fish drill pipe out of the Macondo blowout preventer (BOP) before trying to replace the crippled well-control device.
8/27/2010 BP begun to remove the equipment from the original Macondo blowout preventer (BOP), after determining three pieces of pipe stuck inside were futile.
8/30/2010 The plan to remove the failed Macondo blowout preventer (BOP) has stalled after high seas forced crews to stop work.
9/2/2010 After days of delay due to bad weather, BP has successfully removed the cap on the Macondo well.
9/10/2010 The final operation to kill the Deepwater Horizon well is delayed to the second half of September, as responders prepare to inject cement not only from the bottom of the well, but also from the top.
9/13/2010 BP re-started drilling operations on the first relief well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 after installing a lock down sleeve on the Macondo well.
9/18/2010 Development Driller III relief well intersected the blown-out Macondo well. The relief well was started about 100 feet from the original well and intersects with it about 18,000 feet under the surface of the Gulf.
9/19/2010 BP completed the well kill operation, with both the casing and annulus of the well sealed by cement.
6/22/2011 The internal investigation report, which was commissioned by Transocean, concludes that the Macondo incident was the result of a succession of interrelated well design, construction, and temporary abandonment decisions that compromised the integrity of the well and compounded the likelihood of its failure.
12/3/2013 BP has won an appeal to avoid paying losses from individuals and businesses which were not traceable to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, capping the costs from the blowout.
2/27/2014 US federal judge denied BP's request to halt payments from $2.3 billion fund it has created to compensate commercial fishermen for financial losses claimed after the 2010 Macondo oil spill.

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BP Plc   Products catalog
BP Plc is the operator of the Canyon 252 Block.
Cameron International   Products catalog
Cameron International manufactured and supplied the blowout preventer (BOP) for the Macondo Exploration Well on Canyon 252 Block. The BOP is a large valve that can seal off an oil or natural gas well being drilled or worked on. If underground pressure forces oil or gas into the wellbore, operators can close the valve remotely (usually via hydraulic actuators) to forestall a blowout, and regain control of the wellbore. Once this is accomplished, often the drilling mud density within the hole can be increased until adequate fluid pressure is placed on the influx zone, and the BOP can be opened for operations to resume. The BP wellhead had been fitted with BOP, but it was not fitted with remote control or acoustically activated triggers for use in case of an emergency requiring a platform to be evacuated. It has a dead man's switch designed to automatically cut the pipe and seal the well if communication from the platform is lost, but it was unknown whether the switch was activated.
Halliburton Co.   Products catalog
Halliburton performed cementing work on the Macondo Exploration Well on Canyon 252 Block. A special nitrogen-foamed cement was used which is more difficult to handle than standard cement. A cement bond log documents an evaluation of the integrity of cement work performed on an oil well. In the process of drilling and completing a well, cement is injected through the wellbore and rises up the annulus between the steel casing and the formation.
Plant Performance Services (P2S)   Products catalog
Plant Performance Services (P2S), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluor Corporation, was selected by BP to execute two contracts to support its Gulf Coast cleanup efforts. P2S will be providing logistics, procurement and personnel support to BP in Alabama and Florida where cleanup activities are underway.
Transocean Ltd.   Products catalog
Transocean was the provider and operater of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which is a floating semi-submersible drilling unit, ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned and column-stabilized drilling rig, with $560 million cost and was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea in 2001. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is 396 feet (121 m) long and 256 feet (78 m) wide and could operate in waters up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) deep, to a maximum drill depth of 30,000 feet (9,100 m).

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