By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com
The movie Deepwater Horizon is probably the only movie ever made that actually tried to realistically depict oil drilling operations. While it didn’t get every detail right, it was compellingly realistic (too realistic for me watching it on IMAX) and told the story of how ordinary people, just doing their jobs, can become heroes when everything goes wrong. I won’t go into detail about everything that went wrong leading up to the terrible disaster on April 20, 2010. BP’s Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report is fairly comprehensive. Ultimately it boiled down to the normalization of deviance. The 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster has also been attributed to the normalization of deviance. When dangerous jobs become routine, corners get cut, people become complacent and a sense of impunity sets in. The safety director for my first employer, Enserch Exploration used to start almost every safety meeting with this question and answer:
What kills the most people in industrial accidents? Impunity.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused the entire industry recommit itself to rigorous adherence to safety procedures… Because no one wants go to work and not come home.
Deepwater Horizon Myths
BP’s prospect was located in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (MC 252). It was called “Macondo.” At the time of the blowout and efforts to regain control of the well, a lot of myths were propagated. People said things like, “The well encountered the highest pressures ever recorded”… “Macondo was the largest oil discovery in the world”… “BP was keeping the geological data secret – Not even revealing it to the government.” In reality, there was nothing particularly anomalous about Macondo.
Figure 1. (Southeastern Geophysical Society) Left: Gamma ray log, sandstone deflects to the left of the shale baseline. Right: Electrical resistivity log, oil/gas deflects to right of shale baseline, saltwater deflects to the left. It’s a nice looking log; but not really very spectacular looking. The really interesting thing to me was the pore pressures. The main pay sands from 18,075′ to 18,155′ are not abnormally pressured. 12.5 to 12.6 pounds per gallon is actually kind of low for that depth range. It also appears that they may have encountered a pressure inversion. Geopressure generally increases with depth. The pressure at 17,730′ was 14.1 ppg and 13.0 ppg at 17,820′. They were drilling the well with 14.5 ppg mud and were having problems with losing mud into the formation.
Macondo was estimated by BP to be a 50 million barrel discovery. Kind of small by major oil company standards… A “home run” by smaller independent oil company standards.
One blogger actually wrote this in June 2010:
“No one outside of BP knows the details of the geology under the well site because BP did the geological survey and refuses to release the information – classifying it as proprietary trade secrets.”
BP’s partners (Anadarko and Mitsui) knew exactly what BP did about the geology. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) had all of the data that BP had. Operators had to provide all data to the MMS (now BOEM) – even on “tite holes” and proprietary geophysical surveys. All of the companies that bid against BP in OCS 206 on March 19, 2008 knew at least as much about the geology as BP did. BP’s high bid barely beat out smaller independent oil company LLOG Exploration…
- BP Exploration & Production Inc. $34,003,428.00
- LLOG Exploration Offshore, Inc. $33,625,000.00
- Noble Energy, Inc. $17,225,650.00
- Red Willow Offshore, LLC $14,075,000.00
- Eni Petroleum US LLC $4,577,115.00
- Anadarko E&P Company LP $2,145,950.00
Only one of BP’s competitors for the lease, Eni, was a major oil company. The rest were small, mid-sized and large independents. All of those companies knew enough about the geology to bid on the lease. I don’t work that particular area, but I knew enough about the geology to know the approximate size of the reservoir, thickness of the sands and that the sands are Middle Miocene age and trapped against a Cretaceous unconformity. Any company that is a member of the Offshore Oil Scouts Association (OOSA) also knew a great deal about the drilling procedures and hole conditions.
From April through July 2010, the blowout spilled an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. By mid-July, the well was capped. By August, most of the oil was gone… Either recovered by clean up procedures, evaporated, burned and/or consumed by microbes.
Deepwater Horizon Perspective
Just prior to the Macondo blowout, this was on the MMS (now BOEM) website:
Since 1980, OCS operators have produced 4.7 billion barrels (bbl) of oil and spilled only 0.001 percent of this oil, or 1 bbl for every 81,000 bbl produced. In the last 15 years, there have been no spills greater than 1,000 bbl from an OCS platform or drilling rig. The spill risk related to a diesel spill from drilling operations is even less. During the 10-year period (1976-1985) in which data were collected, there were 80 reported diesel spills greater than one barrel associated with drilling activities, compared with 11,944 wells drilled, or a 0.7 percent probability of occurrence. For diesel spills greater than 50 bbls, only 15 spills have occurred, or a 0.1 percent probability.
Natural seepage of oil in the Gulf of Mexico (unrelated to natural gas and oil industry operations) is far more extensive. Researchers have estimated a natural seepage rate of about 120,000 bbl per year from one area (23,000 square kilometers) offshore of Louisiana.
U.S. Minerals Management Service ca April 2010
This passage disappeared from the website shortly after the blowout.
Of the nearly 53,000 wells drilled in the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico since 1947, there has been one Macondo.
Relative to the number of wells drilled and volume of hydrocarbons produced, the volume of oil spilled in the history of oil & gas drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been minuscule.
Figure 2. Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil Production 1981-2013 (US EIA), oil spills 1963-2013 (US BSEE), natural oil seeps (NAP).
Having trouble seeing the spills? Here’s a plot of just the spills and natural seepage estimate:
Hansen once again goes over the top. See his most recent article in the UK Guardian. Some excerpts:
“The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”
Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more.
Only one problem there Jimbo, CO2 has been a lot higher in the past. Like 10 times higher.
From JS on June 21, 2005:
One point apparently causing confusion among our readers is the relative abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere today as compared with Earth’s historical levels. Most people seem surprised when we say current levels are relatively low, at least from a long-term perspective – understandable considering the constant media/activist bleat about current levels being allegedly “catastrophically high.” Even more express surprise that Earth is currently suffering one of its chilliest episodes in about six hundred million (600,000,000) years.
Given that the late Ordovician suffered an ice age (with associated mass extinction) while atmospheric CO2 levels were more than 4,000ppm higher than those of today (yes, that’s a full order of magnitude higher), levels at which current ‘guesstimations’ of climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 suggest every last skerrick of ice should have been melted off the planet, we admit significant scepticism over simplistic claims of small increment in atmospheric CO2 equating to toasted planet. Granted, continental configuration now is nothing like it was then, Sol’s irradiance differs, as do orbits, obliquity, etc., etc. but there is no obvious correlation between atmospheric CO2 and planetary temperature over the last 600 million years, so why would such relatively tiny amounts suddenly become a critical factor now?
Adjacent graphic ‘Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time’ from Climate and the Carboniferous Period (Monte Hieb, with paleomaps by Christopher R. Scotese). Why not drop by and have a look around?
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Figure 3. Oil spills and natural seeps (note y-axis is logarithmic).
Putting Macondo into perspective is in no way meant to diminish this terrible tragedy. Eleven men died in this disaster. However, our government’s reaction to it was, in itself, a disaster. Thirty three rigs that were drilling in deepwater were forced to shut down and temporarily abandon the wells they were drilling. This created an even greater accident risk than allowing them to complete the wells they were drilling. The Obama administration’s unlawful drilling moratorium and subsequent “permitorium,” led to the loss of over 200,000 bbl/day of oil production from 2010-2015:
Figure 4. Federal offshore Gulf of Mexico oil production. Hurricane damage vs. Obama damage.
Deepwater Horizon EpiLOGG
Did you ever wonder if anyone ever went back in and re-drilled Macondo?
10/12: LLOG Exploration is making waves in the Gulf
APRIL 22, 2015 | BUSINESS
When the Obama administration announced a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, politicians and industry spokespeople howled. The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig at the Macondo well was tragic, some said, but there was no reason to shut down an entire industry sector that otherwise was following the rules and operating safely.
Conspiracy theories that President Barack Obama would try to kill the industry with onerous new regulations proliferated in some circles. Even if the moratorium eventually was lifted, the naysayers said, companies might take their rigs, jobs and tax money to new locales and not come back for many years.
But at LLOG Exploration, it was no time to panic.
THE RIGHT PLAY
LLOG was founded in 1977, primarily to develop prospects in south Louisiana. As the company grew, its focus expanded to include the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2004, LLOG purchased seismic data covering a portion of the Gulf known to the offshore industry as the Mississippi Canyon.
LLOG Exploration at a glance
- Founded: 1977 in Metairie
- President and CEO: Scott Gutterman, who joined the company in 1993 and became CEO in 2007
- Headquartered in Covington, with offices in Scott and Houston
- 170 employees
- Ranked in 2014 as the top privately owned liquid producer in the United States
- One of the top 20 exploration and production companies in the Gulf of Mexico, public or private
- Has drilled more than 350 wells in the Gulf of Mexico and the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast since 2001
- 2014 net production: 26,000 BOE (barrels of oil equivalent) per day
This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of 10/12 Industry Report.
Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
LLOG Exploration was the second-highest bidder on MC 252. In the wake of Macondo, LLOG was able to purchase the lease from BP and put together a strong lease position in the area.
Drilling To Start at Macondo Reservoir
by The Associated Press|Cain Burdeau|Wednesday, May 13, 2015
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Deep-water drilling is set to resume near the site of the catastrophic BP PLC well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the largest U.S. offshore oil spill five years ago off the coast of Louisiana.
A Louisiana-based oil company, LLOG Exploration Offshore LLC, plans to drill into the Macondo reservoir, according to federal records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Richard Charter, a senior fellow with the Ocean Foundation and a longtime industry watchdog, said drilling into that reservoir has proved very dangerous and highly technical, and it raises questions about whether a small company like LLOG has the financial means to respond to a blowout similar to BP’s.
Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane University Energy Institute in New Orleans, dismissed those concerns. He called LLOG “an extremely well-financed and well-organized” company.
“If I were to pick anyone to go into that field after so many problems, I would pick LLOG,” Smith said. “They have demonstrated their ability to drill in the area.”
Since 2010, LLOG has drilled eight wells in the area in “analogous reservoirs at similar depths and pressures,” Fowler said. The company has drilled more than 50 wells in the Gulf since 2002, he said.
He said the company has studied the investigations into the Macondo disaster and “ensured the lessons from those reports are accounted for in our design and well procedures.”
LLOG Exploration renamed the prospect “Niedermeyer”… part of an Animal House theme (we named our deepwater prospects after Caddyshack characters).
Niedermeyer was a nice discovery.
- Four wells on MC 208, 209, 252 and 253. Feb. 2015 through July 2017.
- 21.7 million barrels of oil (mmbo) and 57.5 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas.
- MC 252 SS-1 Well: 6.1 mmbo & 15.6 bcf. Oct. 2015 through July 2017. Avg. 9,600 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and 24 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (mmcf/d).
The Niedermeyer, Marmalard and Son of Bluto 2 fields were completed as subsea tiebacks to LLOG’s “Delta House” floating production system (FPS) on MC 254.
Many readers are familiar with a number of solar proxies used to gauge the activity of the sun, the most familiar being sunspot counts and type. However they aren’t the only metric you can use to determine when one cycle ends and another begins. The Heliospheric Current Sheet sound a bit like a “newsletter” and in a sense it is, because it can announce the true end of solar cycle 23.Here’s what it looks like:
Heliospheric current sheet – click for larger image
The heliospheric current sheet (HCS) is the surface within the Solar System where the polarity of the Sun‘s magnetic field changes from north to south. This field extends throughout the Sun’s equatorial plane in the heliosphere.The shape of the current sheet results from the influence of the Sun’s rotating magnetic field on the plasma in the interplanetary medium (Solar Wind). A small electrical current flows within the sheet, about 10−10 A/m². The thickness of the current sheet is about 10,000 km.
The underlying magnetic field is called the interplanetary magnetic field, and the resulting electric current forms part of the heliospheric current circuit. The heliospheric current sheet is also sometimes called the interplanetary current sheet.
What the Heliospheric Current Sheet is telling us.
David Archibald writes:
One of the things that the now disbanded NASA Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel told us was that is that solar minimum is marked by a flat heliospheric current sheet. The heliospheric current sheet can be found here: http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
The site provides two data series – the classic and the radial, and notes that the radial may be possibly more accurate. Plotting up the radial data, the following chart is generated:
The heliospheric current sheet, for the last three minima, has got down to 3°. The last reading was 8.7°. It has been declining at an average of 8.6° per annum. If it holds that rate, solar minimum will be in August 2009. If it holds to the orange bounding line, solar minimum could be as late as April 2010. The last reading on the classic series is 22.8° and this series got down to 10° on average in previous solar minima. At its decline rate, solar minimum will be in another 1.9 years, which is late 2010.
To paraphrase a popular aphorism, Solar Cycle 23 isn’t over until the heliospheric current sheet has flattened, and it has a way to go yet.
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Figure 5. Delta House schematic diagram and map.
LLOG began drilling the Delta House prospects in 2011 and by 2015 had the Delta House FPS completed and commenced production.
LLOG eyes 2015 Delta House startup
Strategic partnership lets Louisiana operator ramp up deepwater E&P
Senior Technical Editor
Louisiana independent LLOG Exploration Co. is gearing up for an ambitious deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling campaign at the Delta House project, scheduled for first oil in 2015. As of April 2013, the company had drilled two successful wells: one at the Son of Bluto 2 prospect, in Mississippi Canyon 387, and another at Marmalard, in MC 300, and had the Ensco 8502 semisubmersible drilling a third Delta House well at the Marmalard prospect. The three wells will supply initial production to the Delta House platform, to be moored in 4,500 ft (1,372 m) of water in MC 254.
Early this year, LLOG lined up two newbuild DP drilling rigs to carry out work at Delta House and the company’s other central Gulf prospects. A cylindrical Sevan Drilling rig under construction at Cosco Quidong shipyard in China, to be dubbed Sevan Louisiana, will start a three-year, $550-million charter with LLOG in January, 2014. In 3Q 2014, Seadrill’s West Neptune is scheduled to arrive at the Delta House complex to begin an initial three-year, $662-million term. The dual BOP drillship is under construction at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.
The DMSP satellite is still operating, but the SSM/I sensor is not
Regular readers will recall that on Feb 16th I blogged about this graph of arctic sea ice posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center sea ice news page. The downward jump in the blue line was abrupt and puzzling.
Click for larger image
Today NSIDC announced they had discovered the reason why. The sensor on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite they use had degraded and now apparently failed to the point of being unusable. Compounding the bad news they discovered it had been in slow decline for almost two months, which caused a bias in the arctic sea ice data that underestimated the total sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers. This will likely affect the January NSIDC sea ice totals.
Figure 1. High-resolution image Daily Arctic sea ice extent map for February 15, 2009, showed areas of open water which should have appeared as sea ice. Sea Ice Index data. About the data. Please note that our daily sea ice images, derived from microwave measurements, may show spurious pixels in areas where sea ice may not be present. These artifacts are generally caused by coastline effects, or less commonly by severe weather. Scientists use masks to minimize the number of “noise” pixels, based on long-term extent patterns. Noise is largely eliminated in the process of generating monthly averages, our standard measurement for analyzing interannual trends. Data derived from Sea Ice Index data set.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Figure 2. High-resolution image
Daily total Arctic sea ice extent between 1 December 2008 and 12 February 2009 for Special Sensor Microwave/Imager SSM/I compared to the similar NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (EOS AMSR-E) sensor. —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Dr. Walt Meier of NSIDC had planned to do a guest post here on WUWT, but this evening, with the magnitude of the problem looming, he’s asked to defer that post until later. I certainly can’t fault him for that. He’s got his hands full. Hopefully they have a contingency plan in place for loss of the sensor/space platform. I applaud NSIDC for recognizing the problem and posting a complete and detailed summary today. I’ve resposted it below in its entirety. Note that this won’t affect other ice monitoring programs that use the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (EOS AMSR-E) sensor, which is on an entirely different platform, the AQUA satellite.
UPDATE: 2/19 Walt Meier writes with a clarification: “One detail, though perhaps an important [one]. I realize that it is bit confusing, but it is just one channel of the sensor that has issues. And it isn’t so much that it “failed”, but that quality degraded to the point the sea ice algorithm – the process to convert the raw data into sea ice concentration/extent – failed on Monday.” – Anthony
From NSIDC Sea Ice News:
As some of our readers have already noticed, there was a significant problem with the daily sea ice data images on February 16. The problem arose from a malfunction of the satellite sensor we use for our daily sea ice products. Upon further investigation, we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February. Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality control measures prior to archiving the data. See below for more details.
We have removed the most recent data and are investigating alternative data sources that will provide correct results. It is not clear when we will have data back online, but we are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Where does NSIDC get its data?
NSIDC gets sea ice information by applying algorithms to data from a series of Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) sensors on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites. These satellites are operated by the U.S. Department of Defense. Their primary mission is support of U.S. military operations; the data weren’t originally intended for general science use.
The daily updates in Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis rely on rapid acquisition and processing of the SSM/I data. Because the acquisition and processing are done in near-real time, we publish the daily data essentially as is. The data are then archived and later subjected to very strict quality control. We perform quality control measures in coordination with scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which can take up to a year. High-quality archives from SSM/I, combined with data from the earlier Scanning Multi-channel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) data stream (1979–1987) provide a consistent record of sea ice conditions now spanning 30 years.
Data error sources
As discussed above, near-real-time products do not undergo the same level of quality control as the final archived products, which are used in scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals. However, the SSM/I sensors have proven themselves to be generally quite stable. Thus, it is reasonable to use the near-real-time products for displaying evolving ice conditions, with the caveat that errors may nevertheless occur. Sometimes errors are dramatic and obvious. Other errors, such as the recent sensor drift, may be subtler and not immediately apparent. We caution users of the near-real-time products that any conclusions from such data must be preliminary. We believe that the potential problems are outweighed by the scientific value of providing timely assessments of current Arctic sea ice conditions, as long as they are presented with appropriate caveats, which we try to do.
For several years, we used the SSM/I sensor on the DMSP F13 satellite. Last year, F13 started showing large amounts of missing data. The sensor was almost 13 years old, and no longer provided complete daily data to allow us to track total daily sea ice extent. As a result, we switched to the DMSP F15 sensor for our near-real-time analysis. For more information on the switch, see “Note on satellite update and intercalibration,” in our June 3, 2008 post.
On February 16, 2009, as emails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem—sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean. The problem stemmed from a failure of the sea ice algorithm caused by degradation of one of the DMSP F15 sensor channels. Upon further investigation, we found that data quality had begun to degrade over the month preceding the catastrophic failure. As a result, our processes underestimated total sea ice extent for the affected period. Based on comparisons with sea ice extent derived from the NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (EOS AMSR-E) sensor, this underestimation grew from a negligible amount in early January to about 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February (Figure 2). While dramatic, the underestimated values were not outside of expected variability until Monday, February 16. Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check in the coming days.
Sensor drift is a perfect but unfortunate example of the problems encountered in near-real-time analysis. We stress, however, that this error in no way changes the scientific conclusions about the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice, which is based on the the consistent, quality-controlled data archive discussed above.
We are actively investigating how to address the problem. Since we are not receiving good DMSP SSM/I data at the present time, we have temporarily discontinued daily updates. We will restart the data stream as soon as possible.
Some people might ask why we don’t simply switch to the EOS AMSR-E sensor. AMSR-E is a newer and more accurate passive microwave sensor. However, we do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data. Thus, while AMSR-E gives us greater accuracy and more confidence on current sea ice conditions, it actually provides less accuracy on the long-term changes over the past thirty years. There is a balance between being as accurate as possible at any given moment and being as consistent as possible through long time periods. Our main scientific focus is on the long-term changes in Arctic sea ice. With that in mind, we have chosen to continue using the SSM/I sensor, which provides the longest record of Arctic sea ice extent.
For more information on the NSIDC sea ice data, see the following resources on the NSIDC Web site:
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Figure 6. Delta House FPS and subsea tiebacks.
In less than five years, the Delta House development went from spudding the first well to 80,000 bbl/d of oil production.
LLOG Exploration is just one of many, efficient and highly competent independent oil companies, that most people have never heard of, developing deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world.
Oil’s well that end’s well!
I composed this post over the past few weeks. Apparently while I was finalizing the article Delta House suffered a minor mishap…
The Delta House floating production facility about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released 7,950 to 9,350 barrels of oil from early Wednesday to Thursday morning, according to closely held operator LLOG Exploration Co. That would make it the largest spill in more than seven years, data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement show, even though it’s a fraction of the millions of barrels ejected in the 2010 incident.
“Way offshore, the oil had time to dissipate before it could cause lots of damage,” Edward Overton, emeritus professor of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Louisiana State University, said by telephone. “I’m sure there’s some impact associated with this spill out in the deep water, but I don’t think there was enough for the oil to sink.”
The fracture was immediately isolated and that particular field was shut in until the line is repaired and inspeccted. Little or no environmental damage, production drops to 57,000 bbl/d until repairs are completed. LLOG will probably be assessed a fine of about $1,000/bbl.
H/T to Cbone for bringing this to my attention.
A more detailed article about the spill, without speculative comments from an environmental science professor…
The offshore oil and gas operator reported to BSEE that production from the field that flows through the subsea infrastructure was shut-in. The release of oil has ceased. A sheen was observed and reported through the National Response Center. Monitoring of the residual sheen continues. No shoreline impacts have been reported and there are no reports of personnel injuries.
LLOG reported to BSEE that the volume of oil released was estimated to be in the range of 7,950 to 9,350 barrels. LLOG has communicated to BSEE that there was no recoverable oil on surface. Two skimming vessels sourced from Clean Gulf Associates and Marine Spill Response Corporation were on location and prepared to respond.
The location of the release has been identified. LLOG reported that through the use of a remotely-operated vehicle, a fracture was observed in a jumper pipe leading from Mississippi Canyon Block 209, Well No. 1 to a manifold located on the seafloor. As a result of shutting in the well, the flow through the fracture in the pipe has ceased.
A BSEE engineer was on-site at LLOG’s incident command on Thursday to verify the release location via the live feed from the ROV. Two BSEE inspectors traveled offshore on Friday to LLOG’s Delta House platform and have initiated BSEE’s investigation. BSEE is coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard on the response.
According to a report by the Coast Guard, four over flights were conducted on Saturday and have identified no additional visible oil. The previously reported sheens have dissipated.
LLOG discovered the leak. LLOG reported the leak to BSEE. One well was shut-in. The spill has totally dissipated.
CONTINUE READING –>