BP, after working around the clock this weekend, and with at least one set back, has managed to insert a 4 inch pipe,encircled with baffels, into the 21 inch diameter pipe spewing oil and gas one mile beneath the Gulf surface. As of this morning, They’ve estimated the amount of the capture at 1000 barrels a day. This reduces the estimated flow of the leak by one fifth of the total estimated volume of the leak. At least it’s something!
The graphic provided by BP shows the process. Their explanation:
How it works
- The insertion tube is a five foot long steel pipe about four inches in diameter with specially designed rubber baffles. The tube will be inserted into the Horizon’s riser to provide a direct connection.
- The direct connection, combined with the injection of methanol, will minimize the formation of hydrates that could block the flow of hydrocarbons.
- The riser insertion tube will be installed about 600 feet from the wellhead.
- The insertion tube will be connected to a 5,000 foot riser that will convey the hydrocarbons to the Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface.
- Once in place, oil will flow up into the Enterprise’s riser to the surface.
- Once at the surface, the hydrocarbons will be processed and oil will be separated from water and gas. The oil will then be temporarily stored before being offloaded and shipped to a designated oil terminal onshore.
- The Enterprise is capable of processing 15,000 barrels of oil per day and storing 139,000 barrels.
Also reported this morning is that the Gulf Oil Leak has reached the Loop Current which feeds the Gulf Stream and winds around the tip of Florida and close to the Florida Keys.
The National Weather Service Environments Modeling Center graphic shows the flow of the current through the Yucatan peninsula,Northwards, up into the gulf and South, out of the gulf into the Florida current which eventually becomes and fuels the Gulf Stream .
Obviously the discovery of oil in this current is not good news and as the oil is drawn into it, it will sweep through the Florida Keys and around to the East Coast of Florida, then North, up the East coast. The potential damage is frightening.
The Loop Current, does seem to protect the gulf coast from Tampa Bay South to the Florida Bay, just above the Florida Keys. According to an MMS Study done in 1996 by dropping “floaters” and tracking these devices in the Gulf of Mexico, this particular area from Tampa Bay South to Florida Bay, is considered a “forbidden zone” in that no floaters were tracked traveling into this zone.
While being a resident of this general area, it’s hard not to feel somewhat relieved about this, it truly doesn’t lessen the overall impact and possibility of destruction of sensitive gulf marine habitat.
The Florida Keys, are not so lucky. The Florida Current will pick up the oil leak, from the Loop Current and possibly distribute the oil across the reefs already threatened by other environmental pressures. The results are hard to determine but obviously could cause devastating damage.