A drill ship now collecting the captured oil has a capacity of 15,000 barrels a day. A nearby service rig is being prepared to add another 5,000 barrels a day or more of capacity, Allen said. “That should cover the rate we have now,” Allen said. BP aims to add more capacity as well, he said.
The service rig is part of an overall system BP aims to deploy by mid-June to collect oil and gas directly from a failed blowout preventer on the seabed.
BP anticipates moving another craft in that can actually handle additional production, and the combination of these two — the vessel is actually called the Q4000 — combined will have a production capability of about 20,000 barrels a day. And we’re looking to increase production, as I said, so we can slowly close those vents and see how the containment cap is working and whether or not any oil is forced down by the pressure through the rubber seals, as we’ve talked about before.
In the long run, British Petroleum is also looking at bringing larger production vessels in, create a more permanent connection that can be disconnected easily in case we have a hurricane or bad weather later on in the hurricane season, and will continue to optimize the production out of the well to contain it.
As I’ve said on several occasions, though, the long-term solution to this is going to be drilling the relief wells, which, again, are targeted at early August. There are two relief wells in progress right now: Development Driller Three is down between 7,000 and 8,000 below the sea floor; Development Driller Two is down around 3,000.