The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Oil Leak Update

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 12, 2010

BP engineers are making progress on installing a new cap on the leaking Macondo well. The process began just after noon on Saturday with the removal of the LMRP cap. In a news release, BP says the next step is to install a capping stack containing three closing rams.

capping stack.jpg

(Image Source: AP; image provided by BP)

To manage the oil now leaking unimpeded into the Gulf, BP has added two more oil skimming boats to the 46 already operating near the well. Skimmers gathered 25,000 barrels of oil and water on Saturday. Fifteen controlled burns were conducted to incinerate oil floating on the surface.

The new cap, which is expected to take another three to six days to install, could contain all of the oil flowing from the well, according to reports. BP says approximately 749,100 barrels of oil has been removed from the water so far.

"We'll continue to ramp up the capacity so that sometime along the line, whatever the flow is, we'll capture it all," BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters on Saturday.

Today in Washington, the president's independent commission formed to investigate the Gulf oil spill will hold its first formal meeting. President Obama has told the commission not to be bound by the six-month timeframe if it can issue results of its review more quickly and restart deepwater drilling. William K. Reilly, one of the commission's two co-chairmen, says the deepwater drilling moratorium is "not going to be a priority" for the commission.

Within the next week, the Obama administration is expected to announce a new version of the deepwater drilling moratorium, according to the Los Angeles Times. Late last week, a federal appeals court denied the administration's request for a stay on a lower court's order overturning the drilling ban. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments on the merits of the case for the week of August 30.

Meanwhile, the first relief well is homing in on the Macondo wellbore. On Sunday, drilling personnel completed a tenth ranging run, which is a technique used to locate the 7-inch wellbore under one mile of water and two miles of rock.

The relief well had drilled to a depth of 17,810 feet yesterday and is intended to intercept the leaking well at approximately 18,000 feet. BP says the procedure to permanently close the well could take several weeks.