23 May 2010 19:32 [Source: ICIS news]
(adds updates throughout)
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--BP’s siphoning of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill dropped on Saturday to 1,360 bbl/day of oil and 7m cubic feet/day of natural gas, a company spokesman said on Sunday.
BP spokesman Mark Salt said the company was monitoring the overall average siphoning rate as opposed to day-to-day changes, since large fluctuations were expected.
The average extraction rate since a mile-long tube was inserted into the pipe work of an offshore well on 17 May was 2,010 bbl/day of oil and 10m cubic feet/day of natural gas, he noted.
BP said it collected about 1,000 bbl/day on that first day, and figures increased during the initial days. Efforts peaked on Thursday, when the company captured 5,000 bbl/day of oil and 15m cubic feet/day of natural gas.
That rate forced BP to acknowledge that earlier estimates to the size of the leak were too small, since 100% of the oil would have been captured if the prior US figure of 5,000 bbl/day were accurate.
But BP said on Friday that the rate had dropped to 2,200 bbl/day, and that downward trend extended into the weekend.
BP had said the extraction rate would vary because it had to be very careful to prevent excess water from entering the tube, which connects to a ship at the surface. Excess water could increase the chances of crystallised gas hydrates forming, which could block the flow, the company said.
BP also said it was making final preparations on its “top kill” operation, in which heavy drilling fluids would be injected into the well to completely stem the flow, followed by cement to seal the well.
Salt said most equipment for the operation was on site, with deployment expected in the “next few days”.
BP also said on Sunday that it planned to stick with Nalco’s Corexit oil dispersant in its efforts to break up accumulations of heavy oil, despite the US government’s directive to find a less toxic alternative.
Oil began spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico after a 20 April explosion sank the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig.
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