Monday, June 28, 2010
Recovery Effort in Gulf Expected to Continue Despite Storm
By JOSEPH BERGER
A tropical storm moving across the western Gulf of Mexico that is likely to strengthen into a hurricane is not expected to seriously disrupt efforts to capture oil gushing from the stricken BP well, officials of the Coast Guard and BP said Monday.
Adm. Thad W. Allen, of the Coast Guard, who is commanding the federal response to the disaster, said at an afternoon press conference that high seas produced by Tropical Storm Alex should not force the evacuation of rigs and other equipment from the blowout site, which is 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Should an evacuation take place, he said, it could halt the work of collecting oil and drill relief wells for about 14 days.
“As it stands right now, absent the intervention of a hurricane, we’re still looking at mid-August," to have relief wells shut off the gusher entirely, Admiral Allen said.
However, BP officials said that what could be delayed, even by current wave heights, is an effort to prepare what is known as a “floating riser system” that will help raise the daily total of collected oil from, about 25,000 barrels to as much as 50,000 barrels. At a briefing Monday morning, Kent Wells, a senior vice president of BP who is overseeing BP’s efforts, said the storm is expected to follow a track that will take it well west of the blowout site, but it may produce waves of 10 to 12 feet, which Mr. Wells said was too high for the “very precise work” on the surface needed to prepare the floating riser system.
Mr. Wells said the containment cap and a second system that are collecting 25,000 barrels of oil a day would not need to be disconnected and the drilling of two relief wells should continue on schedule. The first relief well is supposed to pump in heavy mud and shut off the gusher sometime in August.
Tropical Storm Alex is on a course heading for northeastern Mexico and a stretch of Texas. Meteorologists at Accuweather.com said they are anticipating a landfall between Tampico, Mexico and Brownsville, Tex. Wednesday night or early Thursday.
Meanwhile Associated Press reported that BP had filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicate the cost of capping and cleaning the spill have reached $2.65 billion. BP has lost more than $100 billion in market value since the drilling platform the company was operating blew up April 20. The costs include spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs, but not a $20 billion fund for damages the company created this month.
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