August 12, 2010

BP Resumes Operations After Tropical Storm Moved In

On Thursday, BP re-launched its mission to finish a relief well and permanently seal the busted oil well after a storm in the Gulf of Mexico suspended the operation.

Thousands of workers had to be pulled off clean-up efforts along the Gulf coast after a tropical storm put it on hold.

Strong winds and high seas threatened to delay the operation for up to four days, but the storm passed over much quicker than forecasters had predicted and BP said the waters were already calm enough to resume the work.

"We're getting things back in place. We're getting back into the relief well that is being drilled and operations are getting back under way," BP spokesman Robert Wine told AFP.

The Development Driller III, which is the rig drilling the relief well, has drilled 17,909 feet below seal level and is currently only about 30 feet away from intercepting the stricken catastrophic Macondo well. 

Engineers will pump heavy drilling fluid known as "mud" once the interception takes place.  They then will pump cement into the well shaft to provide a permanent seal over the oil reservoir miles beneath the sea floor.

BP performed a static kill operation last week that suppressed the oil from spewing by pumping mud and cement in the main drill pipe.

Efforts to try and clean up oil that has washed ashore on all five Gulf states also resumed after the storm.

It was not immediately clear where the rough weather had pulled up any significant amounts of subsurface oil onto beaches or marshes.

About 4.1 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf before BP could cap the ruptured well 5,000 feet below the sea level.  

BP is setting up a $20 billion fund to compensate those hurt by the disaster, and earlier this week the company announced that it had already made an initial $3 billion deposit into the account.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley


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