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.
|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.