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Gulf of Mexico oil spill - the next step

Oilfield Technology,

BP started the ‘top kill’ operations to stop the flow of oil from the MC252 well in the Gulf of Mexico on 26 May.

The procedure was intended to stem the flow of oil and gas and ultimately kill the well by injecting heavy drilling fluids through the blowout preventer on the seabed, down into the well.

Despite successfully pumping a total of over 30 000 bbls of heavy mud, in three attempts at rates of up to 80 bbls/min., and deploying a wide range of different bridging materials, the operation did not overcome the flow from the well.

The next step

The Government, together with BP, has therefore decided to move to the next step in the subsea operations, the deployment of the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system.

The operational plan first involves cutting and then removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed blowout preventer (BOP) to leave a cleanly cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP. The cap is designed to be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well. The LMRP cap is already onsite and it is currently anticipated that it will be connected in approximately four days.

This operation has not been previously carried out in 5000 ft of water and the successful deployment of the containment system cannot be assured.

Relief wells continue to be drilled

Drilling of the first relief well continues and is currently at 12 090 ft. Drilling of the second relief well is temporarily suspended and is expected to recommence shortly from 8576 ft.

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