24
Jul
10

Gulf oil clean-up resuming after storm

NEWS
Gulf oil clean-up resuming after storm

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Earth••• A drill rig working on a relief well is returning to the site of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after an oncoming storm system weakened, a BP spokesman says.

‘The Development Driller 3 is on its way back,’ BP spokesman Bryan Ferguson said on Saturday. ‘It’s the one that’s drilling the first relief well and its the most critical one and it is turned around and is headed back right now.’

Officials are eager to return to work on operations that should finally seal the leaking well, months after the April 20 explosion aboard BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil platform, which killed 11 workers and sunk the rig.

The DD3 drill rig was disconnected from the spill site ahead of Tropical Storm Bonnie, which has now weakened to a tropical depression.

‘The assessment was made that the storm intensity has decreased,’ Ferguson said. ‘So the decision was made overnight to return the DD3.’

The DD3 rig is drilling the first of two relief wells that will be used to definitively plug the devastating spill.

Locals and officials had feared that evacuating crews ahead of bad weather associated with the storm system could set back operations to finally seal off the well by up to 12 days.
But on Saturday morning, several ships, including some operating underwater surveillance robots, remained at the spill site.

Ferguson said it would take around 21 hours for the drill rig to reconnect to drilling operations some 5000 feet beneath the sea surface, after which a decision would be made on whether to restart drilling.

BP and U.S. officials currently plan two operations to kill the well.

The first, a ‘static kill,’ involves pumping heavy drilling fluids known as mud through the blowout preventer valve system that sits on top of the well, and then injecting cement to seal it.

The process is similar to the ‘top kill’ attempt that failed, but official say a cap placed over the leak that has sealed in the flow of oil since last Thursday will made the operation easier and more likely to succeed.

However, officials have always said the ultimate solution to the leak will be via a relief well, which will intersect the original well.

Using the same process as the static kill, drilling fluid, which is denser than oil, will then be pumped via the relief well until the flow of crude is overcome and the well and be sealed with cement.
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