Gulf oil spill update: Top kill did not work, LMRP Cap is next

At a news conference in Robert, Louisiana, BP CEO Doug Suttles announced that top kill did not work and the company will move to its next option which is the LMRP Cap, another version of the original “top hat” procedure that failed. See LMRP Cap diagram below. The first step is to cut and remove the existing riser from the top of the LMRP, then after a clean cut, install the cap to be connected by riser and drill pipe to the Drillship Enterprise. This should be able to capture most of the oil, but no guarantee that it will be successful. The drilling of two relief wells will continue. Previously, the expected completion date for those is sometime in August.

The Gulf coast, the nation and the world anxiously wait to see if BP’s top kill will shut off the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon ruptured well. This morning, the live feed that has come to be called the “spill cam” is showing a dark plume billowing from the broken pipe a mile down on the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico. When the color changes, alarm bells go off and people watching the live camera immediately want to know what has happened.

Does the darker color mean anything? BP spokesmen have continuously warned against trying to interpret what the cameras show.

However, this morning, the Associated Press is reporting, “Scientists say the images may offer clues to whether BP is getting the upper hand in its struggle to contain the oil, said Tony Wood, director of the National Spill Control School at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. If the stuff coming out of the pipe is jet black, it is mostly oil and BP is losing. If it is whitish, it is mostly gas and BP is also losing.” Read the rest of the story…

If the top kill doesn’t work, how much more damage will be done to the lives of the people, the economy of the Gulf Coast and to the fragile eco-systems of the wetlands and the Gulf itself can’t be accurately estimated.

The next option that BP may try is the LMRP Cap. See picture below.

The Deepwater Horizon Unified Command released this graphic depiction of the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap procedure, which is one of several containment contingency options. The device would collect oil leaking from the top of the blow-out preventer.

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