After the Top Kill procedure failed it appears BP may have finally managed to place a cap over the damaged wellhead.
BP had originally intended to install a lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system; however abandoned the procedure after two days of unsuccessfully trying to create a clean precision cut to separate the damaged riser at the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blow-out preventer so the LMRP cap could be fitted.
BP have now installed a “top hat” (a smaller version of the containment dome they initially tried) but it has yet to be determined how successful this latest attempt has been. Meanwhile, preparations are ongoing for the deployment of the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system.
Even if either or both methods are successful, they are only a temporary and partial fix. BP does not expect to completely halt the escape of oil until August, when it hopes to have completed two relief wells. Work on the first relief well, which started on May 2, continues and has currently reached a depth of 12,090 feet. Work on the second relief well, which started on May 16, had reached a depth of 8,576 feet before drilling was temporarily suspended on May 26. Drilling operations on the second relief well resumed on May 30.
Meanwhile, vessel owners are concerned over the impact the drilling memorandum imposed in the US Gulf will have not only on future charters but existing commitments. Hornbeck Offshore currently has nine vessels on term deals in the Gulf of Mexico. In a statement to investors, Hornbeck declared: “To the extent that any customer should assert force majeure for either the oil spill or the moratorium, the company intends to defend the enforcement of its contracts against such claims.” Certainly a firm stance from Hornbeck, and one no doubt they wouldn’t have taken without seeking legal counsel first. Five of the company’s ships are currently employed by BP to fight the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
No doubt, those owners with vessels capable of working outside of the US Gulf will be looking to find work in other regions in a bid to mitigate their exposure to the increasing near-term uncertainty in their home market.