The U.S. Coast Guard reported Friday that oil no longer appears to be flowing from the Macondo well head in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, where the Deepwater Horizon sank in approximately 5,000 feet of water on April 22. The rig was located 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon Block 252.
Following the rig's collapse, a one-mile by five-mile slick had settled on the surface, according to the Coast Guard's update Thursday. There were approximately 700,000 gallons (2.6 million liters) of diesel fuel onboard the massive rig.
"From what we have observed yesterday and through the night, we are not seeing any signs of release of crude in the subsurface area. However we remain in a 'ready to respond' mode and are working in a collaborative effort with BP, the responsible party, to prepare for a worst-case scenario," Rear Admiral Mary Landry, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, stated early Friday morning.
The Coast Guard continues to search for the 11 missing crewmembers during daylight hours; since the search began, the Coast Guard has surveyed more than 3,402 square miles. During a conference call Thursday, the Coast Guard said it is possible the missing persons may have been in the actual vicinity of the explosion.
Seventeen workers were injured in the explosion, which occurred late Tuesday.
"Our deepest prayers and sympathy go out to the families of the 11 missing workers as we continue in this phase of the Search and Rescue case. While 115 workers have been successfully saved, our focus is on the 11 missing workers and we realize that with every hour that passes the chance of survivability decreases. At this time we continue to actively search for survivors, prepare to respond to potential pollution, assess potential salvage options for the MODU Deepwater Horizon, and continue with our marine casualty investigation," Landry said Friday.
According to BP, the company launched an extensive oil spill response at the location following the subsequent sinking of the drilling rig. The British oil major has been assessing the well site and subsea blow out preventer utilizing remotely operated vehicles.
Additionally, the Development Driller III or the Discoverer Enterprise, both currently under contract to BP, could be used to drill a relief well should it be necessary.
Specifically, BP mobilized 32 spill response vessels, including a large storage barge, as well as deployed resources comprising skimming capacity of more than 171,000 barrels per day, offshore storage capacity of 122,000 barrels with an additional 175,000 barrels on standby, supplies of more than 100,000 gallons of dispersants and four aircraft to carry out the dispersant operations.
"We are determined to do everything in our power to contain this oil spill and resolve the situation as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible," said Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward. "We have assembled and are now deploying world-class facilities, resources and expertise, and can call on more if needed. There should be no doubt of our resolve to limit the escape of oil and protect the marine and coastal environments from its effects."
All of BP's environmental response plans were approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. BP's Incident Management Team is continuing to make every effort to respond to any environmental hazard in coordination with Transocean, the USCG, and the Minerals Management Service.
Operated by BP, the Macondo Prospect was being temporarily abandoned as a producer and would have been tied back to existing infrastructure in the area. It had been drilled to just over 18,000 feet and had already been cased and cemented.
According to RigLogix, the Deepwater Horizon, an RBS-8D-designed dynamically-positioned semisub, was rated to work in water depths up to 10,000' and had a rated drilling depth capacity of 30,000'. The rig was under long-term contract to BP through September 2013 at a dayrate of $502,000. The Deepwater Horizon was built in Ulsan, South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries at a cost of approximately $365 million and entered service in 2001.
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