BP has launched the next phase of its effort to contain and clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with a significant expansion of onshore preparations in case spilled oil should reach the coast.
Protecting the shore
The company is ramping up preparations for a major protection and cleaning effort on the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. To supplement its Houma, Louisiana incident command post, which oversees the offshore containment effort and onshore response in Louisiana, BP is now establishing a similar onshore incident command post in Mobile, Alabama to oversee the onshore response in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Work will continue to complete installing marine protection booms along the coast. As well as 180 000 ft of boom already in the water, an additional 300 000 ft is staged or in the process of being deployed, with more on the way.
Fighting the spill
BP is mobilising its full resources to fight the oil spill, which follows the sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Mississippi Canyon 252 block. This includes efforts to stem the flow of oil into the water from the subsea well, to contain the spill offshore and to protect the Gulf coast.
The massive offshore operation that has been running for a week has been addressing the spill on the surface offshore, both by skimming and collecting oil and by applying dispersants. There is concern, however, that weather and current patterns will shift and move the sheen closer to shore or onshore in the coming days.
Efforts to stem the flow of oil from the well, currently estimated at up to 5000 bpd, are continuing with six remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) continuing to attempt to activate the blowout preventer (BOP) on the seabed. By this weekend the Transocean Development Driller III is scheduled to spud a relief well intended to secure the existing well. Drilling of this well is expected to take two to three months.
Work is also continuing to produce a subsea collection system capable of operating in deep water to funnel leaking oil to the surface for treatment. This is expected to be ready for deployment in the next few weeks.
Preliminary estimates indicate that current efforts to contain the spill and secure the well are costing the MC252 owners approximately US$ 6 million/d. This figure is expected to rise as activity increases. It is too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident.