New BP oil spill plan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Controlled burns taking place in the Gulf of Mexico to reduce the amount of oil in the water

The British energy company BP will be attempting a "top kill" on the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil well by firing a mud and cement mixture into the blowout preventer on the sea floor later this week. If successful, the oil well will be closed off with cement. A backup plan in case of failure (there is an estimated 30–40% chance of failure) would be another containment apparatus.

BP has been using the oil dispersant corexit to disperse the oil film into small droplets which mix with the seawater. A riser insertion tube inserted into the largest oil leak site is collecting between 1,360 to 2,000 barrels of oil per day. Two relief oil wells are also currently under construction for what is hoped will be a permanent solution to the oil spill. This pair will take about 90 days to complete.

$500 million will be forthcoming from BP for the gulf spill's impact on the environment and damage to regional ecosystems as far as where water currents may spread the oil. BP also put forward a ten-year research plan to study the long-term effects of the oil spill on the environment.

Satellite view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on May 17, 2010

Controlled surface oil burns and skimming have removed some of the oil spill. It is estimated that 5,000 barrels of oil a day are leaking from the ruptured pipe 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below sea level. A Natural Resources Defense Council marine biologist, Lisa Suatoni, said that only about 7 to 10 percent of oil from the Exxon Valdez spill was cleaned up in 1989.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants an emergency permit for dredges which will contain the pollution. Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, is seeking viable options which may be more effective and better for the environment.

“I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this well from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading. We are 33 days into this effort, and deadline after deadline has been missed,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

"This is a complex operation requiring sophisticated diagnostic work and precise execution. As a result, it involves significant uncertainties and it is not possible to assure its success or to put a definite timescale on its deployment." said BP. "We’re doing things that have never been done before at that kind of depth, so it’s very fluid. We’re not going to do it until we’re completely sure it’s right."

The oil rig Deepwater Horizon suffered a gas explosion and sank April 22, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana resulting in 11 persons missing (and presumed dead) of the 126 on board. BP and its business vendors were completing a new oil well at the time, constructing a layer of cement in the well to reinforce it, which resulted in the blowout.