Environmental Protection

BP Outlines Plan for Controlling Oil Spill

BP, the party responsible for the cleanup of oil spilling as a result of the sinking of the semisubmersible drilling platform Deepwater Horizon last week, on Sunday outlined a spill response plan that includes drilling relief wells and permanent capping of the well from which the sunken rig was extracting oil.

The Deepwater Horizon sank two days after an explosion and fire at 10 p.m. last Tuesday, and the U.S. Coast Guard initially believed there might be no large spill, but by Saturday oil on the water's surface had spread to about 400 square miles in size. The rig was located about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, southeast of Venice, La.

There were 126 workers on the rig at the time of the explosion. Eleven who have not been found are presumed to have died in the incident.

"We are attacking this spill on two fronts -– at the wellhead and on the surface offshore," BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in the company's April 25 news release. "The team on the ground and those at sea have the group's full resources behind them."

BP is lease operator of the block where the well is located. The Deepwater Horizon is owned by Transocean Ltd., which is using remotely operated vehicles to monitor the well and is "mobilizing to activate the blow-out preventer.

BP is preparing to drill relief wells to permanently secure the well," according to the company, which said the drilling rig Development Driller III "is moving into position to drill a second well to intercept the Macondo well and inject a specialized heavy fluid to securely prevent flow of oil or gas and allow work to be carried out to permanently seal the well."

The unified command for the Deepwater Horizon Explosion Response said the sunken rig is capsized on the floor of the gulf about 1,500 feet northwest of the well site. As of April 24, the spill response team had recovered more than 1,000 barrels of an oil-water mix using skimming vessels and vessels towing a containment boom, the company said. More than 500 workers have been deployed to Houma, La., where the field operations response is being coordinated. BP is coordinating the response with the Coast Guard, the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Marine Spill Response Corp., whose president and Chief Executive Officer Steve Benz said, this is "the single largest response effort in MSRC's 20-year history."

"Given the current conditions and the massive size of our response, we are confident in our ability to tackle this spill offshore," Hayward said.

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