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April 25, 2010

Oil spilling from Deepwater Horizon well site

Hopes raised by initial reports of no oil leakage from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead have been dashed.

The unified command for the Deepwater Horizon Explosion Response announced Saturday that the rig was located capsized on the sea floor approximately 1,500 feet northwest of the well site.

Remotely Operated Vehicles located two places where oil is leaking from the well pipe and estimates indicate that up to 1,000 barrels of oil a day could be leaking into the water approximately 5,000 feet below the surface.

The unified command -- consisting of the Coast Guard and Mineral Management Service, in collaboration with BP, the responsible party -- is working round the clock to determine options to contain and secure the spill.

During an overflight this morning, a 20-mile by 20-mile rainbow sheen with areas of emulsified crude was located approximately 40 miles offshore. Although there is currently no shoreline impact, Gulf Coast states have been notified and invited to participate in the Area Command Center located in Robert, La.

On-water recovery efforts were hampered by thunderstorms, rain and rough seas in the area today. However, onshore planning and staging efforts continue unabated and recovery efforts will continue when weather conditions improve. One-thousand-nine-hundred gallons of dispersant were applied Friday and 33,726 gallons of oily-water mix have been recovered by surface skimmers.

"Our response plan is focused on quickly securing the source of the subsurface oil emanating from the well, clean the oil on the surface of the water, and keeping the response well offshore," said Rear Adm. Mary Landry, Incident Commander and Federal On Scene Coordinator.

BP, as lease operator of Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (MC252), says it continues to forge ahead with a comprehensive oil well intervention and spill response plan.

"We are attacking this spill on two fronts - at the wellhead and on the surface offshore," said BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who has travelled to Texas and Louisiana this week to meet with response personnel. "The team on the ground and those at sea have the Group's full resources behind them."

BP continues to assist Transocean's work below the surface on the subsea equipment, using remotely operated vehicles to monitor the Macondo/MC252 exploration well, and is planning and mobilizing to activate the blow-out preventer.

BP is preparing to drill relief wells to permanently secure the well. 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.

As of Saturday, April 24, the oil spill response team had recovered more than 1,000 barrels of an oil-water mix of which the vast majority is water. The material has been collected by skimming vessels and vessels towing containment boom. Dispersants have also been applied to the spill. Equipment available for the effort includes:

100,000 gallons of dispersant are ready to be deployed, which is a third of the world's dispersant commodity; BP is in contact with manufacturers to procure additional supply as necessary.

32 spill response vessels (skimmers, tugs, barges, recovery vessels).

5 aircraft (helicopters and fixed wing including a large payload capacity C-130 for dispersant deployment).

In Houma, La. where the field operations response is being coordinated, almost 500 personnel on- and offshore have already been deployed to coordinate the oil spill response. BP's team of operational and technical experts are working in coordination with several agencies, organizations and companies including United States Coast Guard, Minerals Management Service, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Marine Spill Response Corporation. More teams have been mobilized in Houston and New Orleans to support the effort.

According to Steve Benz, President and CEO of the Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC), "At BP's request we are mounting the single, largest response effort in MSRC's 20-year history. The many years of working together with BP on drills and exercises has proved invaluable to us as we move forward on this response effort."

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

Along with the response teams in action, additional resources, both people and equipment, continue to arrive for staging throughout the Gulf states in preparation for deployment should they be needed.

BP, the responsible party, is required to fund the cost of the response and cleanup operations. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, established after the Exxon Valdez incident, is also available to fund cleanups, if needed.

The Coast Guard search and rescue operation was suspended Friday at 7 p.m. (CST). During the search, rescue personnel conducted 28 sorties and covered more than 5,000 square miles.


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