nearly three months of trying to contain the oil leak in the Gulf of
Mexico with containment
submarines, the "top
kill" effort, and tools to transport oil up to ships
like the riser insertion tube tool (RITT), which have all failed to
completely stop the leak, BP is now placing
a new cap over the well in hopes of finally containing the
oil for good.
new 18-foot, 150,000-pound cap was placed over the well with robotic
arms on Monday and tests are being run to determine if this is the
right procedure for the job. So far, oil is still flowing from the
upper section of the new cap, but BP said they expected this to
happen until the company begins "well integrity tests"
today. BP noted that they don't expect any oil to be released during
the test, but that this doesn't indicate that the flow of oil has
been stopped permanently.
test is expected to take anywhere from six hours to two days, but
it's possible for the tests to be extended even further. The data
gathered during the tests will be shared and reviewed with "relevant
government agencies." According to retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad
Allen, scientists will be checking the pressure inside the well and
will then determine if the cap is containing the oil or if they will
need to continue siphoning oil to ships at the surface.
hopes that the new containment cap can close down the valves and hold
all of the oil, but BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles mentioned
that it's important to first make sure there is no hydrate buildup. A
huge problem in the process of placing the new cap is the possibility
of new damage to the blowout preventer.
new containment cap has brought some new features to the table, such
as allowing four collection ships instead of three (which is what the
old cap allowed) to siphon oil, if oil collection is still needed
after today's tests. According to BP Senior Vice President Kent
Wells, 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil could be collected a day over
the next two to three weeks if oil collection is still part of the
containment process, thanks to the addition of an extra collection
ship. Recently, Helix Producer ship was placed with the Q4000
collection ship and together, they are expected to gather up to
33,000 barrels of oil per day.
addition to new
containment caps and more collection ships, a new moratorium
order issued by the U.S. Interior Department is doing its part in
preventing any more disasters like this from happening.
new moratorium is to "protect
communities, coasts and wildlife" by making oil companies
establish safety measures in order to reduce the risks of oil spills
and blowouts in the future while deepwater drilling. This is the U.S.
Interior Department's second effort to diminish deepwater oil and
natural gas projects.
previous ban after the Gulf oil spill was thrown out by a
federal judge, but after a federal appeals panel "rejected the
government's request to overturn the lower court judge's decision,"
the U.S. Interior Department issued a new order that supersedes the
new ban would be in effect until November 30, 2010 or until deepwater
drilling operations are deemed safe by Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar. Such a ban would insure that deepwater drilling in the Gulf
of Mexico would be suspended until the oil leak is resolved and
officials can figure out what went wrong April 20 and what to do to
prevent it in the future.
than eighty days into the BP oil spill, a pause on deepwater drilling
is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts
from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose,"
said Salazar. "I am basing my decision on evidence that grows
every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a
catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill and to operate safely.
remain open to modifying the new deepwater drilling suspensions based
on new information."