BP Set to Burn Oil Gushing From Deepwater Horizon Macondo Well
by Stacey E. Burke on June 16, 2010
BP began burning oil siphoned from its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday. BP told the media that oil and gas from its leaking well first reached a semi-submersible drilling rig on the ocean surface around 1 a.m. This after BP suffered a setback on Tuesday when lightning struck the Discovery Enterprise, the ship which is capturing the oil from the blown-out well. You can see a photo of the fire the lightining caused on this web site.
Once that gas reaches the rig, it will be mixed with compressed air, shot down a specialized boom made by Schlumberger Ltd. and ignited at sea. It's the first time this particular burner has been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a new method allowing BP to burn rather than simply collect the oil it is able to capture.
BP officials previously said they believed the burner system could incinerate anywhere from 210,000 gallons of oil to 420,000 gallons of oil daily once it's fully operational.
Under pressure from the Coast Guard, the energy firm is attempting to expand its ability to trap leaking oil before it reaches the water. The "collect and burn" approach is BP's second system it has put in place to collect oil that is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. This second system is attached to the Macondo well's failed blowout preventer. Already, oil and gas are being siphoned from a containment cap sitting over the well head and flowing to a drill ship sitting above it in the Gulf of Mexico.
Adding the burner is part of BP's plan to expand its containment system so it can capture as much as 2.2 million gallons of oil a day by late June, or nearly 90 percent of what a team of government scientists have estimated is the maximum flow out the well.