05
Aug
10

BP begins to seal runaway well in Gulf of Mexico

NEWS
BP begins to seal runaway well in Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP has begun sealing its runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico with cement, one of the final steps to plug the gusher at the center of the worst U.S. environmental disaster on record.

Some 15 weeks after the well ruptured and 21 days after the flow was stemmed with a temporary cap, the massive slick which once stretched for hundreds of miles is rapidly disappearing from the Gulf.

But officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact of the disaster could be felt for years, even decades.

In a long-awaited breakthrough, BP brought the well under control on Wednesday after pumping heavy drilling fluid into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.

The British energy giant then began pumping cement at 09.15 CDT on Thursday after the procedure was approved by U.S. officials.

‘The aim of the procedure is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well,’ BP said in a statement. ‘This procedure will complement the ongoing relief well operation.’

In giving the green light, spill response chief Thad Allen emphasised that the cementing should ‘in no way delay the completion of the relief well,’ expected to be finished in mid-August to seal the well permanently.
‘So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. And we are very pleased with that,’ U.S. President Barack Obama said. ‘Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that’s been done.’

It took 106 days to shut the well down in the wake of a devastating explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, unleashing a torrent of oil into the Gulf.

At 4.9 million barrels – or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools – the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.

It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich U.S. Gulf coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.

A government report released on Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.

Heat from the sun helped some of the chemicals in the crude evaporate. Waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches. Then the microbes which feed on natural oil seeping in the Gulf got to work, it said.

‘At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system,’ said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

‘And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches.’
But Lubchenco was quick to stress that scientists will not be able to determine for a long time the full extent of the damage.

‘The oil that was released and has already impacted wildlife at the surface, young juvenile stages and eggs beneath the surface, will likely have very considerable impacts for years and possibly decades to come,’ she told reporters at the White House briefing.

The problem, she explained, is that oil is still toxic even when it has been broken down into very small droplets.

About 24 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters remain closed to fishing, and even when fishermen are able to fill their nets they fear consumers might not believe the seafood is safe to eat.

With tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.

BP, meanwhile, is hoping to rebuild its shattered reputation but must also meet the claims of thousands of individuals and businesses whose livelihoods have been washed away, while a mammoth civil trial looms.

BP senior vice president Kent Wells expressed relief that 20 days after the flow of oil in the sea was stemmed with a temporary cap ‘it’s very difficult for us to find any oil anywhere on the surface.’

He refused, however, to declare victory until the well is permanently sealed.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
Share

Advertisements

0 Responses to “BP begins to seal runaway well in Gulf of Mexico”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Calendar

August 2010
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2 other followers

© Copyright 2010 Dominic Stoughton. All Rights reserved.

Dominic Stoughton's Blog

%d bloggers like this: