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Americas

BP capturing 'half' of oil spill after $1.2 billion effort

Video by Stephen Clarke

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-11

BP says a containment cap fitted on a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is capturing about 11,000 barrels daily, roughly half the amount of oil spilling into the ocean.

AFP - BP Plc said on Monday that its cap system at a seabed oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico captured 11,100 barrels of oil on Sunday, up slightly from the previous 24 hours, and the company planned to increase that amount to 20,000 barrels.

The new figure on captured oil is about 58 percent of the high end of an estimate by U.S. scientists who had said the leak was spewing 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. It was more than 40 percent of the highest government estimate of 25,000 barrels a day.

About 10,500 barrels of oil had been gathered from the well in the previous 24 hours.

"Optimization continues and improvement in oil collection is expected over the next few

From 'Top hat' to 'Top kill' and back

days," BP said in a morning update on its website.

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said at a news conference in Washington that the cap effort was "going fairly well," although the ramp-up will establish how much oil the cap can contain and how much oil will keep leaking.

Allen said government scientists are working to establish a more solid leak rate. He said BP hoped to bring in 20,000 barrels per day from the well -- a comment that indicated government estimates of a flow of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels daily were low.

The slow ramp-up in oil collection, which includes oil billowing from under the bottom of the cap as well as out the top through vents, is part of BP's effort to maintain warm temperatures and keep seawater out.

If cold seawater gets inside and mixes with natural gas escaping with the oil, those extreme temperatures and pressures can cause ice-like hydrates to form, which could block oil from traveling through a pipe to the drillship.

"There's a concern about hydrates, there's a concern about pressure," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "This is a delicate cap."

Hydrates foiled BP's attempt nearly a month ago to cover the leak with a box-shaped containment cover that filled with seawater.

As BP ramps up the containment cap system, the company is moving to siphon more through other seabed equipment.

By mid-June BP intends to start reusing a seabed setup that pumped heavy drilling fluid into a failed blowout preventer in BP's unsuccessful "top kill" attempt to plug the leak last month.

That system will pull oil and gas through the same equipment and channel it to a service rig at the water's surface, BP said.

 

Date created : 2010-06-07

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