20 May 2010 16:07 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--BP has increased its siphoning rate from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico to 3,000 bbl/day of oil and 14m standard cubic feet/day of natural gas, the company said on Thursday.
BP has estimated the leak at 5,000 bbl/day, but some scientists have claimed the rate is much higher.
Over the weekend, underwater robots inserted a four-inch (10 cm) diameter tube into a leaking 21-inch riser pipe, which rested on the sea floor nearly a mile under water.
The oil collected by the tube was being stored and gas was being flared on the drillship Discoverer Enterprise at the surface.
BP increased the extraction rate slowly throughout the week in order to prevent excess water from entering the pipe, it said. Excess water could have increased the chances of crystallised gas hydrates forming, which could have blocked the flow, the company said.
In addition, because the tube remained a new technology, both its continued operation and its effectiveness in capturing the oil and gas remained uncertain, BP said.
The tube, however, would not come close to siphoning all of the oil, the company said. To completely stop the flow, BP was continuing to work on its “top kill” operation, in which heavy drilling fluids would be injected into the well to stem the flow, followed by cement to seal the well.
BP said that most of the equipment for the top kill operation was on site and preparations were ongoing, with deployment expected in the next few days.
The top kill method would stop the flow over the short-term. A permanent solution involved the drilling of two relief wells.
Construction of the first well began in early May, and drilling work on the second - which would effectively serve as a backup - began on Sunday, BP said.
Both wells were expected to be complete by mid-August.
Oil began leaking from the well after the 20 April explosion of the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers.
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