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Posts Tagged ‘well’

BP did not put profit before safety on Gulf well: probe

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

Fourteen dead in oil well blaze in Myanmar

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

At least 14 people have been killed and 58 more injured in a fire at an oil well in central Myanmar, an official in the military-ruled country said Monday.

Fact file on Myanmar. At least 14 people have been killed and 58 more injured in a fire at an oil well in central Myanmar, an official in the military-ruled country said Monday

The blaze broke out on Sunday near Pakokku town in Magway Region.


“At least 14 people were killed and 58 others injured so far during the incident,” said the official, who did not want to be named. “The local authorities are trying to put out the fire now.”

Source: SGGP

Tropical depression halts drilling at Gulf well

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

Drilling the final feet of a relief well intended to permanently plug the busted BP oil well deep below the Gulf of Mexico will have to wait two to three days as a strengthening tropical depression bears down on the site.


BP and Coast Guard officials had already decided to stop drilling earlier Tuesday, before forecasters at the National Hurricane Center named the storm a depression. A tropical storm warning was issued for much of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil spill, from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La.


The center of the storm was located off Florida, hundreds of miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving northwest and was expected to strengthen slowly and become a tropical storm on Wednesday.

– In this Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010 picture, a support vessel, foreground center, and others surround the Helix Q4000, background center, used to perform the static kill operation, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said the last steps will have to wait for ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.


Crews will pop in a temporary plug to safeguard what they’ve drilled so far, but they won’t send workers back to land. They have about 30 to 50 feet left to drill.


The relief well is meant to allow BP PLC to pump mud and cement into the broken one from deep underground for a so-called bottom kill, a permanent seal that would complement a plug injected into the top of the well last week.


Allen has insisted for days that BP go ahead with the bottom kill, even though the top plug appeared to be holding. On Tuesday, though, he said testing still needs to be done on the well before a final decision is made.


“I’m not sure we know that … I don’t want to prejudge whether we are going to do it or not going to do it. It will be conditions-based.”


He later assigned a “very low probability” to the bottom kill not being done, but then said: “We will let everybody know” if that changes.


BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said it’s “really a possibility” that cement engineers pumped in through the top went down into the reservoir, came back up and plugged the annulus, which is between the inner piping and the outer casing.


Allen also said officials were removing some boom that had been put out to catch oil in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He said the boom will be put it in storage and available for future use if necessary.


The delay from the storm came on the same day that anglers and tourism operators got some good news: Federal authorities announced that about 5,000 square miles of Gulf along Florida’s Panhandle was reopened for commercial and recreational fishing.


Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said the expanse from east of Pensacola to Cape San Blas and extending south into the open Gulf was safe for fishing. No oil has been observed in those waters since July 3, though testing will continue.


The spill started with an April 20 explosion that sank the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 workers.


More than 300 lawsuits filed in the aftermath against BP and other companies will be handled by a federal judge in New Orleans, a judicial panel said Tuesday.


An order issued Tuesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said 77 cases plus more than 200 potential “tag-along” actions will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.


The judicial panel’s order says the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation


BP and Coast Guard officials had already decided to stop drilling earlier Tuesday, before forecasters at the National Hurricane Center named the storm a depression. A tropical storm warning was issued for much of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil spill, from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La.


The center of the storm was located off Florida, hundreds of miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving northwest and was expected to strengthen slowly and become a tropical storm on Wednesday.


Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said the last steps will have to wait for ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.


Crews will pop in a temporary plug to safeguard what they’ve drilled so far, but they won’t send workers back to land. They have about 30 to 50 feet left to drill.


The relief well is meant to allow BP PLC to pump mud and cement into the broken one from deep underground for a so-called bottom kill, a permanent seal that would complement a plug injected into the top of the well last week.


Allen has insisted for days that BP go ahead with the bottom kill, even though the top plug appeared to be holding. On Tuesday, though, he said testing still needs to be done on the well before a final decision is made.


“I’m not sure we know that … I don’t want to prejudge whether we are going to do it or not going to do it. It will be conditions-based.”


He later assigned a “very low probability” to the bottom kill not being done, but then said: “We will let everybody know” if that changes.


BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said it’s “really a possibility” that cement engineers pumped in through the top went down into the reservoir, came back up and plugged the annulus, which is between the inner piping and the outer casing.


Allen also said officials were removing some boom that had been put out to catch oil in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He said the boom will be put it in storage and available for future use if necessary.


The delay from the storm came on the same day that anglers and tourism operators got some good news: Federal authorities announced that about 5,000 square miles of Gulf along Florida’s Panhandle was reopened for commercial and recreational fishing.


Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said the expanse from east of Pensacola to Cape San Blas and extending south into the open Gulf was safe for fishing. No oil has been observed in those waters since July 3, though testing will continue.


The spill started with an April 20 explosion that sank the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 workers.


More than 300 lawsuits filed in the aftermath against BP and other companies will be handled by a federal judge in New Orleans, a judicial panel said Tuesday.


An order issued Tuesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said 77 cases plus more than 200 potential “tag-along” actions will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.


The judicial panel’s order says the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation because southeast Louisiana is the “geographic and psychological ‘center of gravity'” for the cases.

Source: SGGP

Tropical depression halts drilling at Gulf well

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

Drilling the final feet of a relief well intended to permanently plug the busted BP oil well deep below the Gulf of Mexico will have to wait two to three days as a strengthening tropical depression bears down on the site.


BP and Coast Guard officials had already decided to stop drilling earlier Tuesday, before forecasters at the National Hurricane Center named the storm a depression. A tropical storm warning was issued for much of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil spill, from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La.


The center of the storm was located off Florida, hundreds of miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving northwest and was expected to strengthen slowly and become a tropical storm on Wednesday.

– In this Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010 picture, a support vessel, foreground center, and others surround the Helix Q4000, background center, used to perform the static kill operation, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said the last steps will have to wait for ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.


Crews will pop in a temporary plug to safeguard what they’ve drilled so far, but they won’t send workers back to land. They have about 30 to 50 feet left to drill.


The relief well is meant to allow BP PLC to pump mud and cement into the broken one from deep underground for a so-called bottom kill, a permanent seal that would complement a plug injected into the top of the well last week.


Allen has insisted for days that BP go ahead with the bottom kill, even though the top plug appeared to be holding. On Tuesday, though, he said testing still needs to be done on the well before a final decision is made.


“I’m not sure we know that … I don’t want to prejudge whether we are going to do it or not going to do it. It will be conditions-based.”


He later assigned a “very low probability” to the bottom kill not being done, but then said: “We will let everybody know” if that changes.


BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said it’s “really a possibility” that cement engineers pumped in through the top went down into the reservoir, came back up and plugged the annulus, which is between the inner piping and the outer casing.


Allen also said officials were removing some boom that had been put out to catch oil in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He said the boom will be put it in storage and available for future use if necessary.


The delay from the storm came on the same day that anglers and tourism operators got some good news: Federal authorities announced that about 5,000 square miles of Gulf along Florida’s Panhandle was reopened for commercial and recreational fishing.


Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said the expanse from east of Pensacola to Cape San Blas and extending south into the open Gulf was safe for fishing. No oil has been observed in those waters since July 3, though testing will continue.


The spill started with an April 20 explosion that sank the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 workers.


More than 300 lawsuits filed in the aftermath against BP and other companies will be handled by a federal judge in New Orleans, a judicial panel said Tuesday.


An order issued Tuesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said 77 cases plus more than 200 potential “tag-along” actions will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.


The judicial panel’s order says the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation


BP and Coast Guard officials had already decided to stop drilling earlier Tuesday, before forecasters at the National Hurricane Center named the storm a depression. A tropical storm warning was issued for much of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil spill, from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La.


The center of the storm was located off Florida, hundreds of miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving northwest and was expected to strengthen slowly and become a tropical storm on Wednesday.


Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said the last steps will have to wait for ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.


Crews will pop in a temporary plug to safeguard what they’ve drilled so far, but they won’t send workers back to land. They have about 30 to 50 feet left to drill.


The relief well is meant to allow BP PLC to pump mud and cement into the broken one from deep underground for a so-called bottom kill, a permanent seal that would complement a plug injected into the top of the well last week.


Allen has insisted for days that BP go ahead with the bottom kill, even though the top plug appeared to be holding. On Tuesday, though, he said testing still needs to be done on the well before a final decision is made.


“I’m not sure we know that … I don’t want to prejudge whether we are going to do it or not going to do it. It will be conditions-based.”


He later assigned a “very low probability” to the bottom kill not being done, but then said: “We will let everybody know” if that changes.


BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said it’s “really a possibility” that cement engineers pumped in through the top went down into the reservoir, came back up and plugged the annulus, which is between the inner piping and the outer casing.


Allen also said officials were removing some boom that had been put out to catch oil in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He said the boom will be put it in storage and available for future use if necessary.


The delay from the storm came on the same day that anglers and tourism operators got some good news: Federal authorities announced that about 5,000 square miles of Gulf along Florida’s Panhandle was reopened for commercial and recreational fishing.


Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said the expanse from east of Pensacola to Cape San Blas and extending south into the open Gulf was safe for fishing. No oil has been observed in those waters since July 3, though testing will continue.


The spill started with an April 20 explosion that sank the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 workers.


More than 300 lawsuits filed in the aftermath against BP and other companies will be handled by a federal judge in New Orleans, a judicial panel said Tuesday.


An order issued Tuesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said 77 cases plus more than 200 potential “tag-along” actions will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.


The judicial panel’s order says the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation because southeast Louisiana is the “geographic and psychological ‘center of gravity'” for the cases.

Source: SGGP

BP plugs runaway oil well in Gulf of Mexico

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Aug 5, 2010 (AFP) – BP plugged its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico with cement Thursday, one of the final steps in permanently sealing the gusher at the center of the worst US environmental disaster on record.


Some 15 weeks after the well ruptured and 21 days after the flow was fully stemmed with a temporary cap, the massive oil slick that once stretched for hundreds of miles is rapidly disappearing from the Gulf.

This still image from a live BP video feed shows a view from a submersible of the BP well area on August 5, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. AFP

But officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact of the disaster could be felt for years, even decades.


“This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment,” said spill response chief Thad Allen, adding, “I think we can all breathe a little easier.”


In a long-awaited breakthrough, BP brought the well under control Wednesday after pumping heavy drilling fluid into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.


The British energy giant then began pumping cement at 09:15 CDT (1415 GMT), and the “static kill” operation was completed in five hours.


“Monitoring of the well is underway in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure,” BP said in a statement.


Work will resume on finishing a relief well, once the cement has dried, that will pierce the base of the well and entomb a pipe no bigger than a dinner plate in mud and cement.


It will likely be mid-August before that operation is complete and the well is finally “killed.”


It took 106 days to shut the well down in the wake of a devastating explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig two days later, unleashing a torrent of oil into the Gulf.


At 4.9 million barrels — or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools — the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.


Heavy brown oil coated fragile coastal wetlands, sullied sandy white beaches, and smothered thousands of birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine life.


The disaster crippled the Gulf’s multibillion dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.


A government report released Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.


Another twenty percent or so was “completely removed” from the system through natural processes as waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches and the warm waters helped speed biodegradation and evaporation.


“Most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a White House briefing.


But Lubchenco was quick to stress that the oil will likely have “very considerable impacts” on the ecosystem for “years and possibly decades to come.”


That has fishermen worried about what they’ll find when they are finally allowed back out on the water with their boats, and whether consumers will be willing to eat what they catch.


And with tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from President Barack Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.


“It’s impossible to know how this thing is ultimately going to play out,” said Matt O’Brian, owner of a shrimp and crab processing dock in the coastal town of Venice, Louisiana.


O’Brian welcomed the news that the well was finally under control, but said it “can’t overcome the atmosphere of uncertainty lingering out at sea.”


He’s worried about the oil’s impact on crab and shrimp populations and wonders if there will ever be a market for Louisiana seafood.


Todd Goodman, who works for the local government and runs a trailer park as a sideline, agreed.


“There is enormous pressure on BP to claim that everything is fine now. But what scares me and a lot of other folks around here is the notion that everybody – BP, the Coast Guard, law enforcement, cleanup crews – will suddenly pull up stakes and leave,” he said.


“Then, two months later — boom! — more oil washes up on us.”

d
Source: SGGP

Hope for Gulf as BP plugs well, most of the oil gone

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 7:22 am

An end to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was in sight as BP plugged its runaway well and US officials said most of the toxic crude has been cleaned up or dispersed.


Though undoubtedly the best day since the disaster began more than 15 weeks ago, US officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact could be felt for years, even decades, to come.


BP’s long-awaited “static kill” was conducted overnight as heavy drilling fluid was rammed into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.


We “have reached a static condition in the well that allows us to have high confidence that there will be no oil leaking into the environment,” US spill response chief Thad Allen told reporters at a White House briefing.

A Brown Pelican flies at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station as the center prepares to transfer the birds after they were rehabilitated from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.

The breakthrough came 106 days after a devastating explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20 killed 11 workers and unleashed a torrent of oil into the Gulf.


“So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. And we are very pleased with that,” US President Barack Obama said. “Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that’s been done.”


Allen later authorized BP to cement over the busted well, an operation that the British-based energy giant said would begin Thursday.


The US pointman also said, however, that he had “made it clear” to the company that the cementing should “in no way delay the completion of the relief well,” expected to be finished mid-August to seal the well sealed permanently.


At 4.9 million barrels — or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools — the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.


It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich US Gulf coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.


A government report released Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.


Heat from the sun helped some of the chemicals in the crude evaporate. Waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches. Then the microbes which feed on natural oil seeps in the Gulf got to work, it said.


“At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system,” said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


“And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches.”


But Lubchenco was quick to stress that scientists will not be able to determine for a long time the full extent of the damage.


“The oil that was released and has already impacted wildlife at the surface, young juvenile stages and eggs beneath the surface, will likely have very considerable impacts for years and possibly decades to come,” she told reporters at the White House briefing.


The problem, she explained, is that oil is still toxic even when it has been broken down into very small droplets. And there was simply so very, very much of it.


About 24 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters remain closed to fishing, and even when fishermen are able to fill their nets they fear consumers might not believe the seafood is safe to eat.

With tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.

BP, meanwhile, is hoping to rebuild its shattered reputation but must also meet the claims of thousands of individuals and businesses whose livelihoods have been washed away, while a mammoth civil trial looms.

BP senior vice president Kent Wells expressed relief that 20 days after the flow of oil in the sea was stemmed with a temporary cap “it’s very difficult for us to find any oil anywhere on the surface.”

He refused, however, to declare victory until the well is permanently sealed.

Source: SGGP

BP begins crucial well ‘kill’ in Gulf of Mexico

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 7:19 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – BP began operations to permanently plug the runaway well that has brought environmental and economic ruin to the Gulf of Mexico and spilled more oil into the sea than ever before.

Ships work near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. AFP

Engineers launched their long-awaited static kill at 2000 GMT Tuesday, ramming heavy fluid into the blown-out Macondo well to force the crude back down into a reservoir almost 3.5 miles (5.7 kilometers) beneath the surface of the sea.


BP was optimistic after conducting “text-book” tests that showed the oil could be subdued, though senior vice president Kent Wells said it was too early to know if the process would take hours or days.


Once the heavy drilling fluid, known as mud, is holding down the oil, the aim is to pour in a cement plug that will permanently seal off the reservoir.


Any leaks in the steel casing of the well would complicate matters as it would mean the area between the pipe and the outer well bore, known as the annulus, would also have to be filled up with mud.


The best case scenario could see the well put permanently out of action by Wednesday, although a “bottom kill” will be performed through a relief well in mid-August to cement in the outer well bore and be certain of success.


If the well casing has leaks, a decision could be taken to hold off on the cement job until the relief well is ready.


“We’re so early in the process there’s no way for me to give you any early indication. The only thing I would say is the injectivity test went well and so that gives us the encouragement,” said Wells.


Thad Allen, the US government point man in the disaster, was emphatic that the static kill “will increase the probability that the relief well will work.” In the long run, “drilling into the annulus and into the casing pipe from below, filling that with mud and then filling that with cement is the only solution to the end of this,” he told reporters.


The extent of the spill was confirmed when US government experts on Monday announced that the oil had been pouring out at a rate of 62,000 barrels a day — more than 12 times faster than BP originally admitted.


This was also higher than any previous official estimate, and meant 4.9 million barrels of crude — more than 205 million gallons — spewed into the Gulf in the 87 days it took to cap it, making it the biggest maritime spill ever.


If BP is found guilty of negligence, the flow rate means it could face up to 17.6 billion dollars in fines. The firm has also set up a 20 billion dollar fund to pay claims from individuals and businesses hit by the disaster.


Shutting the well will bring some relief to coastal residents who have been uncertain about their future and frustrated at the cleanup effort since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April and sank to the bottom of the Gulf.


The full economic and environmental cost of the spill will remain unknown for some time, but a hint of what is to come was found in a report out Tuesday by researchers at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University.


Of 1,200 coastal Gulf coast residents the researchers surveyed last month, 40 percent said they had been directly exposed to the spill, a third said it had affected their kids, and 20 percent said it had hit their wallets.


Parents reported that their children had developed mental, behavioral or physical problems — everything from respiratory problems and rashes to feelings of sadness or nervousness, difficulty socializing with other children, or trouble getting to sleep.


One in five residents told the Columbia researchers that their household income had fallen, with poor residents — those who earned less than 25,000 dollars a year — feeling the pinch more than the better-off.


While there is hope that Louisiana’s marshes and fragile wetlands may recover relatively quickly, no one knows the real spill impact on the Gulf food chain.

d
Source: SGGP

BP gears up for well ‘kill’

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2010 at 7:20 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Aug 2, 2010 (AFP) – BP geared up Monday for its long-awaited “static kill,” hoping to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil well and take a major step towards ending the region’s worst ever environmental disaster.


Heavy drilling fluid, known in the trade as “mud,” is to be pumped down into the well on Tuesday morning to shut the giant gusher that has threatened the Gulf’s fishing, tourism and oil industries with financial ruin.


Engineers performed a dry-run of “injectivity tests” on Monday, but BP then said it had to delay the last-minute tests before its kill shot due to a hydraulic leak in the cap sealing the well.

This US Coast Guard handout image shows rigs drilling a relief well and preparing the static kill are seen at the site of the Deepwater Horizon well about 40 miles (64km) from the southern Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico July 31, 2010. AFP

The leak was not expected to significantly delay the planned Tuesday start of the kill operation.


“It is anticipated that the injectivity test and possibly the static kill will take place Tuesday,” BP said in a statement.


Even as authorities aimed to shut down the Macondo well once and for all, they gave a more precise picture Monday of how much crude it spewed, saying it gushed at the rate of 62,000 barrels of oil per day initially — more than 12 times faster than BP had admitted shortly after the blowout in April.


An estimated 4.9 million barrels, more than 205 million gallons, spewed from the ruptured well in the 87 days from the beginning of the disaster until the leak was finally capped on July 15, BP and the US government said in a statement.


Some 800,000 barrels were captured during containment operations, but the 4.1 million uncontained barrels now estimated to have flowed into the water make it the biggest unintentional oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.


The new numbers could play a crucial role in determining how much BP is fined under the Clean Water Act, which allows the US government to seek civil penalties for illegal oil discharges.


Fines under the law range from 1,100 dollars per barrel spilled to as high as 4,300 dollars per barrel spilled, if negligence is proven, meaning BP could theoretically face fines of up to 17.6 billion dollars for the 4.1 million barrels that poured into the sea.


As for shutting down the runaway well, if its integrity is intact it should only be a matter of hours before it becomes evident that the “mud” is successfully pushing the oil back down into the source rock.


“We want to confirm that we can inject the oil that’s in the wellbore back into the reservoir,” BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters Monday.


But US spill response chief Thad Allen cautioned that the operation could take several days if the casing of the pipe has a leak through to the outer well bore.


“A decision on whether or not to put cement in after the mud will be completely dependent on the assessment of the integrity of the casing and the well bore,” said Allen.


In addition to the static kill, engineers could also launch a “bottom kill” that would see cement injected into the wellbore through relief wells that would intersect it thousands of feet below the sea floor.


BP says the first of two relief wells will not intercept the stricken well until some time between August 11 and 15, assuming no additional weather or procedural delays.


The Macondo well gushed noxious crude into the sea for nearly three months since the Deepwater Horizon rig sank in April, devastating fragile habitats and bringing misery to many residents along the US Gulf Coast.


While the last surface patches of toxic crude biodegrade rapidly in the warm waters, the long-term impact of the disaster may not be realized for decades.


As the focus shifts to the clean-up of marshes and beaches, so it does to the restoration of the industries devastated by the spill.


And while locals are eager to see the well plugged for good, there are fears that a successful kill operation will prompt a mass exodus of officials brought into the region to respond to the crisis.


BP dismissed its vilified chief executive Tony Hayward last week, replacing him with an American, Bob Dudley, who has promised not to abandon Gulf residents in their time of need.


Also last week the company posted a quarterly loss of 16.9 billion dollars and set aside 32.2 billion dollars to pay spill costs, including a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay compensation to the battered fishing, oil, and tourism industries.


BP, which leased the rig that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the spill, has sought to reassure residents it will remain engaged and work to restore the area.

d
Source: SGGP

Storm threat may imperil BP battle to plug Gulf well

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

BURAS, Louisiana, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – The threat of a new tropical storm forced crews to make preparations to protect the damaged Gulf of Mexico oil well, which could delay plans to permanently seal the leak that led to the environmental disaster.


The National Hurricane Center said Thursday a storm system over the Bahamas had a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone and would likely move westward into the Gulf of Mexico.

A pelican flies away from boom used to protect Queen Bess Island on July 21, 2010 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. AFP

The forecasting service Accuweather said the forecast track “takes the system near south Florida on Friday then into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by Saturday then into the Louisiana coast Saturday night or Sunday.”


“We are having to watch the weather very, very carefully now and adjust our plans accordingly,” BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters Wednesday.


Anxiously eyeing the bad weather brewing in the Caribbean to see if it could become a tropical storm and veer towards the Gulf, US and BP officials pored over data mulling whether to order an evacuation.


But in case it has to evacuate the area around the damaged well, which lies some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, BP early Wednesday placed a special plug inside the well’s casing.


The well has been capped since Thursday and the plug, dubbed “a storm packer,” was “another barrier, so that nothing can flow up or down past that plug… so that if we have to leave we have multiple barriers,” Wells said.


Depending on how the system develops, officials may have to issue evacuation orders for hundreds of support ships and engineers trying to finish drilling a relief well deep under the seabed.


“If we have to evacuate the area… we could be looking at 10 to 14 day gaps in our lines of operation,” warned retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the US government response to the Gulf disaster.


President Barack Obama, who met with top officials including Allen on the oil spill response, “pushed his team to be prepared for any scenarios related to the potential development of a tropical storm in the Gulf,” the White House said.


Any storm would be a frustrating setback as the British energy giant may be within days of permanently plugging the well, which began leaking after an April 20 explosion.


Wells confirmed work had stopped Wednesday on the relief well still seen as the ultimate solution to killing the damaged well, until the weather forecast became clearer.


The final pieces of casing need to be placed on the relief well to protect it before a so-called “static kill” can begin.


Allen said earlier that depending on the weather the “static kill” could start as early as the weekend.


But BP has not yet been given permission to start the operation, and Wells was more cautious on the timing saying it would take three to four days to first finish the relief well casing.


The static kill would see BP try to drown the oil flow by pumping in mud and cement via the giant 30-foot (10-meter) cap which has prevented any oil from streaming into the Gulf for almost a week.


Local residents warned that efforts to choke off the well may be too late, with hundreds of miles of coastline in five Gulf states already fouled.


“There is a definite sense of doom here. Everyone seems just defeated. Every day they are being told about oiled marshes, where they grew up,” said Jessica Lass, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has set up a center in the small Louisiana town of Buras.


“This is their livelihood, because it’s not like the shrimp are going to come back this year. Knowing that your source of income could potentially be permanently gone, what are you supposed to do?”


A vast swath of the Gulf has been closed to commercial and sport fishing, a key economic lifeline for this impoverished area.


“It’s the uncertainty of what’s going to happen, creating this huge growth in stress levels here,” spokeswoman Lisa Becnel from volunteer group C.A.R.E told AFP.


BP has already spent close to four billion dollars on clean-up costs and compensation claims and has promised to set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay victims of the disaster along the US Gulf Coast.


In a sign of some potentially good news, Allen said hundreds of boats deployed to skim oil from the Gulf surface were having trouble finding any.


It is not known exactly how much oil has leaked into the sea, but if an upper estimate of over four million barrels is confirmed, the disaster would be the biggest accidental oil spill ever.

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Source: SGGP

Relief tunnel should reach Gulf well by weekend

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Three months into the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government’s spill chief says a relief tunnel should finally reach BP’s broken well by the weekend, meaning the gusher could be snuffed for good within two weeks.


After several days of concern about the well’s stability and the leaky cap keeping the oil mostly bottled up, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Tuesday that engineers concluded the risk of a bigger blowout was minimal and were getting closer to pumping mud into the column to permanently seal it.


“We continue to be pleased with the progress,” Allen said in Washington, giving the go-ahead to keep the well cap shut for at least 24 more hours and possibly longer.

Oil booms are seen in Breton Island, Louisiana, as oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead continues to spread in the Gulf of Mexico in this May 3, 2010 file photo

BP vice president Kent Wells said crews hope to drill sideways into the blown-out well and intercept it at the end of July. The relief well is necessary to plug the well permanently.


After it’s done, crews will begin the kill procedure, pumping mud and cement into the hole a mile underwater to seal it, which BP said could take anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.


“Everything’s looking good,” Well said. “The relief well is exactly where we want it. It’s pointed in the right direction, and so we’re feeling good about that.”


Engineers are also considering shooting drilling mud down through the cap to increase the chances that the attempt to kill the well succeeds.


News that a solution is near cheered Jeff Hunt who scans the waves daily for telltale tar balls in Pensacola Beach, Fla.


“It makes me very happy, after nearly three months, that they finally have gotten to a pinnacle point of closing it,” said the co-owner of a hair salon. “We need to plug the thing.”


BP wants to leave the cap on in the meantime. At one point, Allen wanted instead to relieve the pressure by opening up the cap and siphoning oil up to ships on the surface, but he has relented in the past few days. Opening the cap would have required allowing millions of gallons oil to gush into the sea again for a few days while the plumbing was hooked up.


Seepage detected from the seafloor briefly raised fears that the well was in danger, but Allen said that another well is to blame.


The seepage is closer to the older well than to the one that blew out, Allen said.


There are two wells within two miles of BP’s blowout, one that has been abandoned and another that is not in production. Around 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf aren’t checked for leaks, an Associated Press investigation showed this month.


The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and touching off one of America’s worst environmental crises. The well has spewed somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons into the Gulf. BP said the cost of dealing with the spill has now reached nearly $4 billion.

Source: SGGP