May 16, 2010
BP connects riser to leaking well
BP has succeeded in inserting a four-inch diameter tube into the broken end of the 21-inch diameter Deepwater Horizon riser.
As of Sunday afternoon, the five foot long insertion tube had been connected to a 5,000 foot riser and was transferring hydrocarbons to the Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface.
BP Senior Executive Vice President Kent Wells told reporters Sunday afternoon that "so far it's working extremely well." But he did not know exactly how much oil had been captured and siphoned by the tube so far, explaining the plan was to start off slowly and work up to full capacity over the next few days.
"We don't want to get too aggressive on how quickly we bring our flow up," he said.
The success came after two initial glitches. According to one report, the first successful connection was disrupted when two ROV's that were monitoring the event collided. One of them dislodged the riser insertion tube and it had to be reinserted.
The system uses methanol injection to minimize the formation of gas hydrates at 5,000 feet below the surface and the new riser is heated with sea water to promote the flow of oil from the ocean floor to the drillship above. This is a commonly used practice in ultra-deepwater production because the temperatures at these water depths tend to stymie the flow of oil.
Once at the surface, the hydrocarbons will be processed and oil will be separated from water and gas. The oil will then be temporarily stored before being offloaded and shipped to a designated oil terminal onshore.
The Discoverer Enterprise is capable of processing 15,000 barrels of oil per day and storing 139,000 barrels. A support barge will also be deployed with a capacity to store 137,000 barrels of oil.