April 25th, 2010
03:21 PM ET

Efforts to stop leak under way after oil rig explosion

Efforts were under way Sunday to contain and stop oil leaking from a well site following an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Officials found oil was leaking Saturday from the well site. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was drilling there when the oil rig exploded Tuesday night, the Coast Guard said. Rescuers on Friday suspended the search for 11 people missing after the blast.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Saturday that fresh oil was leaking from two places at the well site, located about 5,000 feet underwater, at a rate of about 1,000 barrels a day - a preliminary estimate.

Poor weather conditions offshore hampered cleanup efforts on Saturday. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry said in a statement Sunday authorities have approved a plan to use submersible remote-operated vehicles in an effort to activate the "blowout preventer" on the sea floor.

A blowout preventer is a large valve at the top of a well that can be closed. Activating it will "stop the flow of oil," O'Berry said.

In addition, BP, which was leasing the rig, is mobilizing a drilling rig, expected to arrive Monday to prepare for relief well-drilling operations, O'Berry said. A relief well is drilled to intersect the leaking well and isolate or kill it.

As of Sunday, about 1,143 barrels, or 48,000 gallons, of oily water have been collected, O'Berry said.

"The oil recovery and clean-up operations are expected to resume once adverse weather has passed," O'Berry said. "These efforts are part of the federally approved oil spill contingency plan that is in place to respond to environmental incidents."

BP said Saturday that more than 30 spill response vessels, four aircraft, thousands of gallons of dispersants and a large amount of skimming resources have been deployed to help contain the spill.

The Deepwater Horizon - a mobile unit that moves to different locations in the Gulf of Mexico - was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, when the explosion happened Tuesday night. The rig had been drilling for oil in its current location since January, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

BP spokesman Bill Salvin said the explosion happened "in the process of turning the well from an exploration well into a production well."

- CNN's Aaron Cooper and Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Environment • U.S.
soundoff (One Response)
  1. scott

    Cant you take big maganets and lower them down to pipe hooked to cable then guide another pipe to slide over existing pipe and either pump it else were or put a valve on it?

    May 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |