Earlier this week, BP engaged in a "cut & cap" operation in which it used remote-controlled underwater robots to saw off the top part of the wellhead on the sea floor about a mile below the surface. Then, a cap was attached around the cut portion, which needed to be as clean a cut as possible in order to ensure a proper fit.
Admiral Thad W. Allen of the US Coast Guard reported this morning that in its first 24 hours of operation, the well cap had recovered some 6,000 barrels of oil. This is the first major positive news from the comedy (or tragedy?) of errors that had been BP's efforts to stop the oil spill over the last 6 weeks since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon was destroyed by fire.
As you can see in this diagram from the New York Times, the cap is covering the leak and able to suction up a portion of the oil, although there is still excess oil leaking out around the device:
The leak had been gushing somewhere between 19,000 and 25,000 barrels of light sweet Louisiana crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day according to recent estimates.
With 6,000 barrels captured in the first 24 hours of operation, this shows a significant reduction in the amount of oil flowing out to contribute to the massive spill - this would be anywhere from a 24% to 31% reduction at current operational capacity.
Any reduction in the immediate oil entering the water is a huge plus, but Admiral Allen says that engineers hope to increase the amount of oil siphoned from the leak up to 15,000 barrels per day, which would be an impressive containment effort indeed. This 15,000 barrels is the maximum daily capacity of the surface vessel taking in the oil.
What do you think about the likelihood of ongoing success of the containment and cleanup efforts?
More on BP Oil Spill:
- POTUS Makes 3rd Visit to Gulf to Evaluate BP Oil Spill After Partial Success
in Cut & Cap Procedure
- Is Nuking the BP Oil Well a Politically Viable Option for Obama?
- "Cut & Cover" Effort to Stop BP Oil Leak Stalls While Potential Lawsuits
- Obama Administration Investigates BP for Criminal & Civil Charges on Gulf
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