BP working on hurricane-resistant oil plan
Government weather scientists have predicted that up to 7 major hurricanes could slam into the U.S. this year.
Mon, Jun 07 2010 at 7:00 PM
SLOWING THE OIL: BP’s current containment effort involves a cap placed over a sawed-off pipe, which gathers the oil, allowing it to be siphoned up to a container ship. (Photo: BP/AP)
BP is looking at hurricane-resistant methods for siphoning up oil from a ruptured Gulf of Mexico pipeline, in the event that a major storm strikes before a relief well can be built, officials said Monday.
"We're looking at different options... that would allow us to stay longer and reduce down time" should a major storm strike, said Kent Wells, BP's senior vice president, at a press briefing.
He said a more durable "direct connect" would be put in place by mid-June to increase the amount of oil and gas that can be captured from the well.
A "long-term containment option" would be put in place at the end of the month, which "allows for a much easier disconnect and reconnect" in the event of a hurricane, he said.
Government weather scientists have predicted that up to seven major hurricanes, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour, could slam into the United States this year, potentially hampering efforts to siphon off spewing oil and clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
And there may be up to 23 named Atlantic storms between June 1 and November 30, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency said.
Forecasters from Colorado State University, which gave slightly different storm figures, blamed warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and cooling tropical Pacific conditions.
A device called the lower marine riser package was installed last week to collect and transport oil and gas flowing from the well into the Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface.
The containment effort involves a cap placed over a sawed-off pipe, which gathers the oil, allowing it to be siphoned up to a container ship.
It was the first maneuver to demonstrate some success at curbing the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf, but in the event of a major storm would likely have to be detached temporarily from the ship.
Wells said Monday the company was looking at other refinements that could help it gather even more spewing oil.
"We've got some real expertise coming from a couple of different government scientists that are helping us design a valve mechanism there that gives us much better containment than we've got with the LMRP," Wells said, adding that an improved method could be in place by mid-June.
Wells told reporters that BP so far has collected a total of 28,000 barrels of oil from the ruptured Gulf of Mexico well.
The government has yet to determine the exact amount of oil being captured by BP, but it is believed to be a fraction of the oil spewing into the Gulf.
Meanwhile, two relief wells, started May 2 and May 16, are expected to take about three months to complete from the start of drilling.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition