U.S. Coast Guard to Burn Portions of Gulf Oil Slick

The Coast Guard will perform an in situ burn on portions of an oil slick that is spreading closer to the U.S. Gulf coastline.

During yesterday's conference on the Deepwater Horizon incident, officials said the oil spill could potentially become one of the worst in U.S. history; however, efforts to secure the well are continuing at full speed.

Originating from the Macondo well site in Mississippi Canyon 252, where the Deepwater Horizon semisub sunk in approximately 5,000 ft. of water some 50 miles offshore Louisiana, the crude oil pool has moved to within 15-20 miles of Louisiana's shoreline.

The oil slick poses an ecological threat to areas in the Mississippi River Delta and, currently, oil is leaking at an estimated rate of 1,000 barrels per day from the damaged wellhead.

The burn operation will likely begin between 11 a.m. and noon CT (noon and 1 p.m. ET), CNN quoted Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman as saying. There are still many variables to be worked out, he said, including finding oil in the slick that will burn, gathering the oil into an enclosed area with booms and safety issues.

Operating alongside the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, BP has launched a comprehensive, pre-approved oil spill response plan following the April 22 sinking of the Deepwater Horizon semisub.

As operator of the Macondo exploration well, BP has unsuccessfully attempted to shut off the well using eight remote-controlled submarines to activate the blowout preventer.

As additional measures, the operator has initiated plans to drill two relief wells and construct a dome to cap the well. The Development Driller III and Discoverer Enterprise have been recruited to drill the relief wells.

To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 6,206 barrels (260,652 gallons) of an oil-water mix.