Coast Guard requires BP to double collection at oil spill site

Aerial view of the Discoverer Enterprise deepw...

Image by AFP via @daylife

The U.S. Coast Guard is requiring BP to develop a plan to collect 40,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil per day at the site of the Deepwater Horizon well site, Admiral Thad Allen told reporters moments ago.

Two facilities currently at the surface, the Discoverer Enterprise drilling ship (pictured) and the Q4000 floating platform, can handle 28,000 barrels per day, Allen said, a number that has begun to look inadequate in the face of increasing estimates of the amount of oil that has been spilling from the severed pipe on the sea floor.

Asked why BP and the Coast Guard did not have the larger collection capacity at the spill site already, Allen said, “We brought the capacity to the scene that was available.”

The increased capacity will include shuttle tankers presently on their way to the Gulf from the North Sea. Shuttle tankers are capable of accepting oil by hose from the facilities on site and shuttling it to port. Because tankers in the Gulf are not usually used that way, the tankers have to be brought from other parts of the world, Allen said.

Allen estimated BP will be able to collect 38,000 barrels per day by the end of June, when the current cap and collection pipe are expected to be replaced by a more efficient system that can collect more oil and be disconnected in the event of a hurricane.

The ships currently on site will eventually be replaced by a new drilling ship and tanker that can process more oil.

In addition to increased capacity, the Coast Guard is requiring BP to build redundancy into the system so additional ships will be available at the site as ready replacements.

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