Battle to stop leaks after oil rig fire

BP is preparing to drill relief wells to 'permanently secure' an oil well blasted open by an accident which has left 11 people presumed dead.

An explosion led to the sinking of the Deep Horizon oil rig last week and its wreckage is threatening to cause a major pollution incident off the American coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today (April 26) the oil firm is hoping to use the drilling rig Development Driller III to drill a second well to cut into the leaking well and pour in specialized heavy fluid to stop oil or gas leaking out.

“We are attacking this spill on two fronts – at the wellhead and on the surface offshore,” said BP group chief executive Tony Hayward, who has travelled to Texas and Louisiana this week to meet with response personnel.

“The team on the ground and those at sea have the group’s full resources behind them.”

As of Saturday (April 24) the oil spill response team had recovered more than 1,000 barrels of an oil-water mix of which the vast majority is water.

The material has been collected by skimming vessels and vessels towing containment boom.

Dispersants have also been applied to the spill. Equipment available for the effort includes:

100,000 gallons of dispersant are ready to be deployed, which is a third of the world’s dispersant commodity; BP is in contact with manufacturers to procure additional supply as necessary.

32 spill response vessels (skimmers, tugs, barges, recovery vessels).

5 aircraft (helicopters and fixed wing including a large payload capacity C-130 (Hercules) for dispersant deployment).

The search for 11 missing workers from the oil rig was called off over the weekend, after the firm presumed they had been tragically killed in the accident.

Luke Walsh

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