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Top Kill Fails; BP Moving on to LMRP Cap Attempt

BP and the government team involved in the response have deemed the top kill operation attempting to stop the flow of oil from the MC252 well in the Gulf of Mexico (earlier post) unsuccessful. BP is proceeding with the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap option.

BP started the top kill operations to stop the flow at 1300 CDT 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 blow-out preventer on the seabed, down into the well.

Despite pumping a total of more than 30,000 barrels of heavy mud, in three attempts at rates of up to 80 barrels a minute, and deploying a wide range of different bridging materials, the operation did not overcome the flow from the well.

[The Oil Drum has several recent posts discussing the nature and challenges of the top kill process and the bridging materials—here, here, here, and here—and the LMRP, here.]

Lmrp
Overview of the LMRP Cap option. Source: BP. Click to enlarge.

The Government, together with BP, have 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 Blow-Out 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 drillship 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 on site and it is currently anticipated that it will be connected in about four days.

This operation has not been previously carried out in 5,000 feet of water and the successful deployment of the containment system cannot be assured.

Drilling of the first relief well continues and is currently at 12,090 feet. Drilling of the second relief well is temporarily suspended as the vessel prepares its BOP for possible deployment in a further attempt at the MC252 well and is expected to recommence shortly from 8,576 feet.

Comments

ejj

I envision the problem with this approach being the force of the oil, coming out of the blowout preventer, not allowing the LRMP cap to seat properly on top. Like trying to push a garden hose onto a spigot with the water turned on full blast.

ToppaTom

So it would seem.

On land I believe they often first fasten the two flanges together, with the top valve off to the side, with one bolt, then swivel it over above the lower body and add more bolts. - But

#1, the diagrams I've seen do not show this
#2, would the ROVs be able to swivel/slide the top one over?

ToppaTom

I can only assume the LMRP Cap will be heavy enough to drop onto the BOP against the oil flow - which may not have much force, as long as it is not stopped.

Maybe the new LMRP cap will have vents that will be closed AFTER the cap is secure or they will suck mightily on the new riser as it descends.

And since they expect leaks, it cannot stop flow at all, just direct most of it up the new riser.

HarveyD

The trial and error method may last for many months.

SJC

When they cut the pipe, the full flow will happen and not just the amount that is leaking out of the bend pipe. If they can fit the new cap in a short time, this may not be a problem. If they can not, the oil flow may just increase for months.

ai_vin

Everything they've tried has failed. Now you'd think this would put the last-nail-in-the-coffin for deepwater drilling, right? Wrong, even Obama has only suspended offshore drilling, not banned it outright. Even if they they were to ban it, how long do you think the ban would last?

As per a poll cited on this site; republicans are still more concerned about energy security over environment by 2 to 1.
Sarah drill-baby-drill Palin is gain popularity every day with those who vote with their Bibles. (and that's a lot of people in America)
This guy; http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/21/paul-says-obama-being-too-tough-on-bp/?fbid=zAEwJOqYQxc got a seat in the Senate.
And the Texas School Board is doing their darnest to dumb-down the next generation of voters.

ejj

The only reason Obama isn't calling for the end of offshore drilling completely is because of 10 percent plus unemployment, and he has been bought off by big oil (especially BP) and the banks. Cash-strapped states are looking greedily at oil royalties and jobs when from offshore oil drilling too. When copious amounts of oil starts splashing onto the shores of the gulf states, around Florida and up the eastern seaboard, that is when Americans might become ready to put nails in the coffin of offshore drilling (at least deepwater offshore drilling). Just remember, regardless of what America does (and I also believe regardless of how nasty this spill winds up being), Brazil, China, Russia, India, Venezuela and others will be full speed ahead with their deep sea offshore drilling. Because all these other countries will not stop drilling, if we stop, we will simply become more dependent on their oil. We desperately need a radically improved electrical grid & BEV's ASAP.

ai_vin

We desperately need a radically improved electrical grid & BEV's ASAP.

Amen!

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