According to a report from the US Coast Guard an operation to set fire to parts of the 600 square mile sheen of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico after last week’s explosion on the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible drilling rig commenced yesterday. The controlled burn is part of efforts to minimise the environmental impact of the oil spill.
Underwater ROVs have so far failed to shut off the flow of oil from the well and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now estimate that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the Gulf of Mexico – five times greater than the previous estimate of 1,000 barrels a day; claims which Doug Suttle, chief operating officer for BP disputes. Bloomberg also reported this week that the blowout preventers for the Deepwater Horizon were provided by Cameron International, the second-largest US maker of oilfield equipment. However, the cause of the blast has yet to be confirmed.
Sources report that sixteen skimming boats, four storage barges, one drilling rig, one drillship and eleven offshore support vessels are on site assisting with operations.