Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 28, 2010
The first tropical storm of the season has veered away from the Gulf oil spill, allowing engineers to continue siphoning oil and gas from the leaking Macondo well.
BP reports that approximately 22,750 barrels of oil were collected or flared on Saturday.
BP also is making preparations for the installation of a floating riser containment system. The company says the system will be connected to the Helix Producer vessel and will be able to handle 20,000-25,000 barrels of oil per day, raising the daily oil and gas containment capacity to 40,000-50,000 barrels by late June or early July.
The first relief well is making steady progress toward intercepting the wellbore of the Macondo well. It has reached a depth of 16,546 feet and is using high-tech equipment to precisely locate the wellbore. The relief well is expected to be drilled beside the original well for some distance before it pierces it and begins pumping heavy fluids and cement to plug the leak.
As drilling engineer Don Van Nieuwenhuise of the University of Houston told The Times:
"All the signs are that they are ahead of schedule but they are taking this very, very carefully. The final stages are absolutely critical and they don't want to mess it up."
A potential cause of the blowout preventer's failure to close properly has been identified. The Chicago Tribune reports the explosion that sent the Deepwater Horizon to the bottom of the Gulf apparently blew apart the single string of drill pipe, lodging two sections of pipe in the blowout preventer. The additional pipe could have prevented the blind shear rams from closing completely and stopping the flow of oil and gas.
While the cleanup continues along the coast, the Justice Department on Friday filed papers with Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, seeking a delay in the lower court's ruling overturning the deepwater drilling moratorium. The court filing accuses U.S. District Court Judge Feldman of abusing his discretion and downplays the moratorium's economic impact.
Jeanette Tanguis, who is the wife of a rig hand, says she's tired of being called an economic impact. "People are talking about us only as 'economic impacts'...We are families. We need the work." (McClatchy Washington Bureau)
(Image Source: BP)
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