Houston, 7 July (Argus) — BP will need three more days to finish attaching a third production vessel that could almost double the oil recovery rate at its leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, the US government's national incident commander Thad Allen said today.
The Helix Producer, which will expand production capacity from 28,000 b/d to 53,000 b/d, has a partial connection to the floating riser system that will bring oil up from the well's blowout preventer stack.
The Producer has been delayed by high waves since last week, when Hurricane Alex passed through the Gulf followed by another low-pressure center. The work requires seas of around 3-5ft and waves have been as high as 6ft in recent days.
The US government has said it estimates the flow rate to be 35,000-60,000 b/d, and Allen said yesterday the flow was believed to be around 35,000 b/d.
Using two existing vessels, BP recovered 24,760 bl of oil yesterday, a decline of less than 1pc from the previous day. Of that, BP stored 16,535 bl on the Discoverer Enterprise connected to a containment cap sitting atop the well's blowout preventer stack. The company flared 8,225 bl of oil from the Q4000 drawing oil from a connection to a hose on the side of the blowout preventer. BP has recovered 660,000 bl in total from the two vessels since their implementation in June.
The first of two relief wells is laterally 15ft away from the original Macondo well bore, Allen said today. He has said the completion date for the wells will be in mid-August.
The well began leaking after the Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling the discovery exploded on 20 April and sank two days later.
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