BP Caps Leak #1

BP announced Wednesday morning that it stopped the flow of oil from one of the three existing leak points overnight on the damaged MC252 oil well and riser in the Gulf of Mexico.

The action is not expected to affect the overall rate of flow from the well; approximately 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of crude oil continue to escape from the two remaining leaks. However, BP pointed out in a written statement that capping the first well should reduce the complexity of the situation being dealt with on the seabed.

At the MC252 well, using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), a valve has been installed on the end of a broken drill pipe, one of the three points from which oil was leaking. The ROVs first cut the end of the pipe to leave a clean end and the valve, weighing over half a ton, was placed in position on the seabed. Overnight the ROVs completed securely joining the valve to the broken drill pipe and then closed it, shutting off the flow from that pipe. The ROVs will continue to closely monitor the well and remaining flow points to look for any changes.

In related news, BP stated that it continues to make plans for the loading and movement of a first containment dome from dock at Port Fourchon, La., out to the well site. It is planned to lower the dome over one of the leak sites on the seabed and then connect it by pipe to a specialist vessel at the surface. This system is designed to help capture the oil at the seabed and collect it securely for processing. The dome is currently expected to be lowered to the wellsite seabed in approximately three days' time, allowing the process of testing and commissioning to begin. Only once this is complete will the effectiveness of the system be demonstrated.

BP noted that its initial onshore response efforts focused on Louisiana, and have rapidly expanded with equipment and people staged and ready. The company stated that it has a supply of boom and other resources on hand to cover the next seven to 10 days of planned response activity, and it has put in place a supply chain that should enable it to deliver additional supplies as needs arise. There are now nine staging areas across the Gulf Coast -- four in Louisiana and three in Mississippi, and one each in Alabama and Florida.