BP reduces siphoning of Gulf spill, prepares to plug well Tuesday

21 May 2010 21:45  [Source: ICIS news]

Relief work continuesHOUSTON (ICIS news)--BP scaled back its siphoning of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to 2,200 bbl/day while hoping to launch its "top kill" operation to plug the well next Tuesday, the company said on Friday.

“The rate fluctuates quite widely,” chief operating officer Doug Suttles said at a press briefing. “About 2,000 bbl/day is cleaned on average.”

The company said on Thursday that it was siphoning 5,000 bbl/day of the oil leak via a mile-long insertion tube from a pipe extending from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig.

“The [insertion tube] is just containing the spill,” Suttles said. “The ‘top kill’ is to stop.”

Heavy drilling fluids would be injected into the well to completely stem the flow, followed by cement to seal the well.

BP said that most of the equipment for the operation was on site with deployment expected early next week.

The oil leak rate was initially estimated by US officials at 5,000 bbl/day. But reports Thursday that BP was siphoning that amount led BP to confirm that the spill was likely larger.

BP officials said a US government task force had been given until Saturday to come up with a new estimate, though US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said that timetable was inaccurate and that an estimate was expected “sometime next week”.

Meanwhile, BP said it was still seeking to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) order to use a less toxic dispersant on the oil than Nalco’s Corexit.

BP confirmed it was examining multiple alternative options, including Alabaster’s Sea Brat 4 dispersant. But Suttles said the company had concerns about that particular dispersant without elaborating further.

Suttles, who noted that Corexit was the most widely-used dispersant in the world, said BP had a conversation scheduled with the EPA for Friday evening.

Oil began leaking from the offshore well after the 20 April explosion of the BP-operated rig, which killed 11 workers.

($1 = €0.80)

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By: Ben DuBose
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