Monday, May 03, 2010

Gulf Coast Oil Slick Threatens Wildlife and Livelihoods as BP Moves To Stop Leak

Oil continues to seep out of several cracks in a wellhead more than 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 5,000 barrels a day. BP is hoping a device can be lowered down to the site of the leaks that would siphon off the oil and quench the flow that threatens wildlife and livelihoods throughout the Gulf Coast.
In its efforts to minimize the widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP will deploy a large structure in the next 6 to 8 days to capture leaking oil. Here's how it works.

Called the Subsea Oil Recovery System, the 125-ton structure is designed to be placed over the largest source of oil leaking 5,000 feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The system collects the leaking oil and pumps it through a funnel and pipe to a tanker at the surface, which stores it and ships the oil to shore.

The structure is a 40-foot tall concrete chimney that conveys leaking oil to a ship on the surface, the Deepwater Enterprise. Once there, oil is separated from water and stored until the ship can return to shore, where it is offloaded and shipped to an on-shore terminal.

The ship is capable of storing 139,000 barrels of oil, processing it at a rate of 15,000 barrels per day. BP hopes it will be able to collect as much as 85 percent of the oil leaking from the sea floor.
It will be several days before they can lower the device to the sea floor and in the meantime, the environmental damage is starting to be tallied as oil slicks start to come ashore.

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