BP reports progress in oil spill cleanup

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oil slick in Gulf of Mexico as seen by NASA's Terra Satellite in May.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

BP reported Tuesday that it captured nearly 25,000 barrels of crude oil on Monday from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The energy company also reported that a third of the oil captured was subsequently burned off. This indicates that the oil spill recovery operations may have begun to stabilize, even as strong storms threaten to hinder efforts.

As of July 5, BP has collected about 657,300 barrels of oil, with an estimated flow rate of about 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. As recovery efforts progress, responders hope to increase these efforts by bringing in additional ships to raise the average oil capture rate to 53,000 barrels per day. However, this latest effort was delayed by the recent Hurricane Alex, bringing operations to a halt for three days.

BP plans to expand its containment capacity and flexibility, which is anticipated to occur during mid to late July. It is planned that several oil containment systems will be deployed; however, the efficiency of these systems cannot be guaranteed, as they have not been tested in the conditions they are expected to operate in. Work on the first two relief wells, which began in May, continues and is expected to take a total of about three months.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the worst offshore oil spill in United States history, and BP reports that recovery operations thus far have amounted to a total of about US$3.12 billion. The spill began in April when a drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded and subsequently sank, killing eleven.