BP/Gulf Oil Gusher

Press Briefing by National Incident Commander for Deepwater BP Oil Spill Response, June 8, 2010

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–June 8, 2010.  Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander for the Deepwater BP Oil Spill response, joined Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in briefing the media Tuesday morning.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Good morning.  Here for the daily operations brief.  I’m joined by Jane Lubchenco—my partner at NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration].  I’m going to give a few operational highlights and Dr. Lubchenco is going to provide you an overview of NOAAA activities and then we’d be glad to take any questions that you might have for us.

Just in general, the weather may become a little bit of factor over the next couple of days.  It’s been out of the south—southeast at about 10 to 15 knots for some period of time, which has tended to move the oil up towards Mississippi, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida.  That’s going to be slightly less and there’s a current to the west that may kind of hold it where it’s at right now, but we’re watching that very, very closely.

We had two flights yesterday; one in the Straits of Florida—a Coast Guard aircraft—and one off the west coast of Florida that was NOAAA aircraft.  No sightings of oil were made.  We’ve been reporting for a week or so now that there’s been eddy north of the loop current that’s basically separated the spill from the loop current that is prohibiting the oil entrainment and we continue to watch that very, very closely.

Regarding the containment operations with the containment cap, in the last 24-hour period that was from midnight last night to midnight this night we were able to recover 14,842 barrels.  This has climbed steadily from the first day—which, you remember, we went—I think the last four days have gone from about 6,000 barrels up to almost 15,000.

We continue to optimize production—make sure we can take as much oil out of that stream as we can right now.  One of the four vents on the containment cap is closed at this point and we continue to monitor it moving forward.

A couple of key issues we’ve been following this week to give you an update on—one is vessels of opportunity.  This is taking local watermen and putting them out there to work.  Right now, we have over 2,600 vessels throughout the Gulf that are enrolled.  In Alabama alone in the last couple of days we’ve had about 500 vessels out.  We’re providing them booming equipment and other equipment.  They’re either scouting actually skimming for supporting other operations that are out there.

Later on this week, there will be a meeting with BP and my staff— including Tracy Wareing, who heads our integrated services team—to talk about claims, both individual claims and business related claims.  We will be meeting with British Petroleum on that.  I will be part of that meeting and then we’re going to dispatch a team to the regions to make sure we’re aligned with the claims process and understand what BP is doing, and to the extent we need to provide any oversight, we will be doing it at that time.

Other than that, no further updates there and I’ll turn the podium over to Dr. Lubchenco

ADMINSTRATOR LUBCHENCO: Thank you, Admiral Allen and a special thanks to you for the terrific job you’ve done in leading the federal teams for a very aggressive and strategic response to this spill.

The BP oil spill is a human tragedy and an environmental disaster.  NOAA and the other federal partners are deeply concerned about what the oil spill means for the health of the Gulf of Mexico and for the millions of people who depend on these waters for their livelihood and their enjoyment.

From day one, NOAA has been tracking every aspect of this spill to help inform the federal response, to guide actions, [and] to aggressively protect wildlife and critical habitat.  We’ve been tracking also where the oil is going, where it is at the surface, as well as where it might be below the surface and what the consequences of that oil will be to the coastal communities—as well as for the health of the Gulf.

We deeply understand the public’s need for answers and consider it our responsibility to help provide those answers.  Our commitment is to provide the right answers and with that in mind, we have deployed a wide range of tools, satellites in space, planes in the air, ships on the water, scientists on the ground and information online so that the American people can see what we’re doing and understand the answers that we are getting.

We have always known that there is oil under the surface.  The questions that NOAA and many of its academic partners are pursuing is, where is that oil, in what concentrations and what impact is this having on the ecosystems.

Today, we are announcing findings from NOAA’s analysis of water samples that were taken by our partners at the University of South Florida aboard the Weatherbird II research vessel.

NOAA—we now have the results in hand from the water samples that were taken during those cruises and NOAA is confirming the presence of very low concentrations of subsurface oil at sampling depths ranging from the surface to 3,300 feet at locations 40 and 42 nautical miles northeast of the well sites, and another sampling station at 142 nautical miles southeast of the wellhead.

Notably, our analysis of the presence of subsurface oil determined that the concentrations of oil are in the range of less than 0.5 parts per million.  Along with the analysis of the concentrations, we have also been fingerprinting the oil.  You can fingerprint it and determine if it’s from the Mississippi Canyon 252 site or some of the other oil that is in the Gulf naturally.  What we have found is that hydrocarbons in the surface samples taken 40 nautical miles northeast from the wellhead were indeed consistent with the BP’s oil spill.

Hydrocarbons found in the samples 42 nautical miles northeast from the wellhead at the surface at 162 feet and 4,500 feet were in concentrations too low to do the actual fingerprinting.  And finally, hydrocarbons found in the samples 142 nautical miles southeast of the wellhead at 330 feet and 1,000 feet were not consistent with the BP oil spill.

This research from the University of South Florida contributes to the larger three-dimensional picture that we are in the process of constructing for the Gulf.

As Admiral Allen has suggested, each of these different research missions is essentially doing an MRI through MRI flights, through the water columns, trying to characterize what’s there and eventually we will have, not just answers to what’s there and in what concentrations, but what impact it is having.

A number of other NOAA vessels are out on the water or just returning from cruises that compliment the ships that were out there earlier.  The NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson—which is a 208 foot survey vessel—is currently underway on a mission in the vicinity of the BP deepwater horizon spill.

I was down in the Gulf last week—was on board the Thomas Jefferson with the crew of not only NOAA scientists, but academic scientists as they were preparing to embark and do some additional excellent work.  The NOAA ship, Gordon Gunter, a 224 foot research vessel, returned June 3rd from an eight day mission in the vicinity of the wellhead.  We’ve had some results now that have been sent for analysis and we are committed to sharing those results as soon as they are back.  The results that are in hand can be seen at NOAA.gov website and we are committed to transparency and to sharing all of that information as soon as we have done the appropriate checks and balances to make sure the information is accurate.

We also are flying some planes, P3—so-called hurricane hunters.  I was up in one last week flying over the Gulf to deploy instruments to better characterize what the surface flow and subsurface flow of the ocean is.  All of this scientific information is helping us understand, again, the oil, where it is, what impact it might be having.

We remain concerned about the location of oil on the surface and under the sea.  We and our academic partners, such as the University of South Florida, will remain vigilant in our search for answers and as I mentioned at the beginning, we consider this to be a human tragedy and an environmental disaster.  We are attacking it aggressively to mitigate the harm and to understand the impact.

We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Gulf Coast communities during these incredibly challenging times.

The Admiral and I would be happy to answer any questions.

Q:  Admiral, now that the existence of the underwater oil (inaudible) assessment confirmed how (inaudible) the response (inaudible) deal with that.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, I’m going to give an answer.  I’ll ask Dr. Lubchenco just to respond.  The term plume has been used for quite a while.  Classically, the definition of a plume is you have a source that (inaudible) some direction.  I think we’re talking about our concentrations (inaudible)—a cloud is a better term and it’s just to (inaudible) on the terminology here.  Ma’am?

ADMINISTRATOR LUBCHENCO: I think that’s right.  Another useful analogy might be the volcanic ash emerging from a volcano, that’s described as a plume.  It’s from a single source and it is being moved around by air currents—or the ash would be moved around by air currents much in the same way that the oil that is coming out of this spill is being dispersed and moved around by subsurface currents.  We will continue to do research to understand where it is and in what concentrations and what impact it will have.

Q: Admiral, in your briefing yesterday, you had mentioned that BP is moving additional production capacity and additional vessels to the spill site so that you can slowly close those vents to see how that containment cap is working.  That seems to suggest that the caps remained open—that three of the four caps remained open because there is BP’s (inaudible) production capacity to process the oil when it gets to the surface.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: No, we haven’t reached the capacity of the ship above the (inaudible) enterprise.  We want to make sure we have enough capacity to be able to handle the entire flow—that’s the reason the second vessel has been brought in.

The reason those vents have not been closed are two reasons—that prohibits the build up of hydrates and then something called chatter, because if you get too much pressure in there, just the oil and everything moving around could actually dislodge the containment cap [and we would] not able to control the pressure (inaudible).

Q: I’m sorry.  If those – if that additional vessel were already on the scene, would you be collecting more of the …

ADMIRAL ALLEN: No.  There are—(inaudible) here at the rate (inaudible) production capabilities.  It’s not—it doesn’t have anything to do with the overall capacity, it’s how they’re actually monitoring the flow and making sure they don’t cause the cap to become dislodged.

Q: Admiral, there are reports from near the region talks about a second plume (inaudible) and I guess (inaudible) for about a month—much smaller spill (inaudible) Saratoga, deep water Saratoga.  Do you know anything about this spill?  Is it impacting (inaudible) the deep water (inaudible)?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: I haven’t heard anything recently, but we will get some information and we’ll make a release.  Captain [Ronald] LaBrec will follow up on that.

Q: And a follow up question.  There was a poll saying that the—many Americans believe that the federal response to hurricane Katrina actually slightly better than the federal response to this disaster.  What’s your response to that?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: My response was I was part of both of them, and they’re not comparable for a lot of different reasons.  There was not a lot of assets present at Katrina.  There was not a forward federal presence for quite a while.

We were involved in this thing from the start.  I can give you an exhaustive list of what’s alike and what’s not alike between the two of them.  I really don’t believe they’re comparable.

Q: Admiral Allen—some of our reporting people in the region say of those vessels, only 135 of those are skimmer vessels.  Yesterday, you [said[ that was being reviewed and I was wondering, why is that number so low?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, let me differentiate vessels of opportunity from skimming equipment.  We have very large skimming equipment operating offshore, some of these are vessels that are actually self-contained vessels, can actually skim oil.

Other skimming equipment is the combination of boom and (inaudible) equipment that you actually pull behind the vessels and you vacuum it out.  There are other skimming-type vessels that actually carry what we call a (inaudible) skimmer which is a big circle across (inaudible) oil comes in like it’s going down a drain.

You can operate vessels of opportunity by towing their nets and bringing in oil that way and then taking [it] off the nets—the booms and some of the skimming equipment we’re talking about are very small skimmers used in shallow water in shore and what you’re talking about are those large skimmers that operate out on their own platforms.

Q: What is (inaudible) you discussed the (inaudible) bringing in additional skimmers?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: We are.  We are.  What we want to do is, we want to match up these vessels of opportunity with smaller skimming systems.  When you hear about skimming vessels, those are vessels that are design for skimming (inaudible) offshore (inaudible).

Q: Admiral, why did BP and the government have a larger containment cap ready in case the prime one (inaudible)?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: There are several container—containment caps that are sitting on the bottom out there and depending on the circumstances, they will be used—and it had to do with how fine a cut they could make.  There was actually even tighter caps they intended to put on, but because they couldn’t use the diamond wire saw and they had to go to the sheer cut—which was more of a jagged cut—they went to the less perfect seal with the containment cap they have right now.

But there were several options depending on how that riser cut would have been [made].

Q: So why do we have to wait (inaudible) other?  (inaudible) larger one that (inaudible)?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: I’m not sure I understand the question.  We are looking to bring larger facilities to be able to process larger concentrations of the product coming up, but I’m not sure I understand about the (inaudible) cap.  Well, we can follow up and I’d be glad to give you some more information.

Q: Admiral, you have (inaudible) …

ADMIRAL ALLEN: That’s a great question.  We’ve put our flow rate team, which has been empanelled under Dr. Marcia McNutt of the U.S. Geological Surveys—continue to work.  I’ve asked them to go back and continually refine and question their assumptions of those two initial grades of (inaudible) by 12 to 19 up from 12 to 25,000 barrels a day.  I also have asked them to take a look at the implications of their first estimate that when we cut the riser pipe, there could have been as much as 20 percent increase over the flow rate.

What I’ve asked them to do is go back and look at the basic assumptions prior to cutting the riser pipe and then go back and question if you can get a finer determination on what happened with the actual (inaudible) we’ve got from the riser pipe—(inaudible) some time later on this week, early next week, give us a revised total flow rate, pre riser cut, post riser cut.  We need that for two reasons, we need to assess the outflow for the overall amount of oil that’s been discharged for the purpose of assessing the environmental impact and the natural resources damage assessment—overall long term—but also we need to understand the rate of flow versus how much we’re taking out in terms of production to be able to establish a total count what I would call the oil pledges that we’re dealing with.

Q: Sir, along those lines, (inaudible) makes reference to some high resolution video that BP evidently has, but that has not been made available to the—your below rate technical group.  Are you aware of any videos or imagery that the BP has but that has not been given to the government?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: We put out a release.  I’ve gotten questioned a couple of times about the release of video.  Early on, there was some video that was owned by subcontractors to BP that we did not have access to for the federal government.

All of the video that we have needed and asked from BP we have got and we’ve released and Dr. Lubchenco may want to comment about early on there was some problems with access to the video.  I don’t believe we have any access to video right now, but Dr. Lubchenco you want to comment?

ADMINISTRATOR LUBCHENCO: I think what the Admiral says is correct, that there were problems early on and we have directed BP to give us everything that they have.  And that has been forthcoming.

Q: I believe that the reference that the current video (inaudible), to your knowledge all of the imagery that BP is getting, you are also getting.  Is that correct?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: We’ll double check and get back to you on it.  There were some issues earlier on, but after we provided guidance, in fact, I had a personal conversation with Tony Hayward.  There was some concern about actually releasing the video real-time for the top kill process when it started because they thought that might put pressure on the operators that knew they were being watched [and] increased the risk. We had several very frank conversations.  In the end, I think everybody thought it was better that it had to be released for transparency [to the] public.  (Inaudible) conversation that actually been the pressure we’ve placed on BP that’s (inaudible).

Q: (Inaudible)…subcontractors (inaudible)…

ADMIRAL ALLEN: I do not know the subcontractor’s name, but we’ll provide that.

Q: Admiral, you had talked about the (inaudible).  Can you interpret those?  (Inaudible) …

ADMINISTRATOR LUBCHENCO: The test results confirm that there is oil subsurface.  We’ve always suspected that, but it’s good to have confirmation.  So earlier report—we’re looking at instruments that had provided images in the water columns that looked suspicious—but the gold standard is really the testing of water samples specifically taken from the area and the analysis of those water samples which we now have in hand—we’ve just gotten those—indicates that there is definitely oil subsurface.

It’s in very low concentrations.  I mentioned 0.5 parts per million—that is from the three sites that were sampled by the Weatherbird II.  There are other vessels out there.  When the Gordon Gunter was out, it took additional water samples.  Those are in the labs being analyzed now.  The Thomas Jefferson ship that is out there—excuse me—again, also in the vicinity of the wellhead is taking additional samples and we will report on those as soon as we can.

So the bottom line is, yes, there is oil in the water column.  That’s confirmed at the sites where we’ve done those analyses.  It’s in very low concentrations and we will continue to release those data as soon as they are available and continue to do more MRI slices to construct this three-dimensional puzzle so that we can actually have a better sense of what’s where, in what amounts and that’s what impact it has.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Last question from the room right here.

Q: You should talk about what that means in terms of your efforts (inaudible) become a bit of a (inaudible) that (inaudible) help you or (inaudible).

ADMIRAL ALLEN: No.  We look at the weather everyday and right now, the winds are [coming] from out of the south, which tends to push the edge of the spill in towards Mississippi, Alabama, but there’s a westerly current and so it’s been where the oil is at (inaudible), but where the wind is coming from kind of resolves itself.

But I think there will—we may see just a slight holding of where its at in relation to those coast lines— (inaudible) migration westward back across the (inaudible).

ADMINISTRATOR LUBCHENCO: I’m going to jump in here for a just a minute and add to that.  The National Weather Service is part of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they provide twice daily weather reports to inform all of the actions and the trajectories of where the surface oil is going to go and the shoreline impact maps that show where we think there are areas of the coast at risk are all provided as part of this unified response that NOAA is providing to inform the rest of the federal action.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: And before we go to the phone call, let me just restate what I said yesterday in the press briefing.  We’re really not dealing with a monolithic spill.  We’re dealing with about a 200 mile radius around that well site with thousands—maybe hundred thousands of smaller patches of oil and depending on where they’re at, they could be impacted by local current and/or winds slightly differently.

And so it’s really a surveillance challenge to try to figure out where the oil eventually—where it’s going.  So the oil down close to the wellhead could actually be moving westward because of the currents and the oil out towards the perimeter could actually because of the southerly winds toward Mississippi, Alabama and Florida—so we’re watching all of that.

Q: And (inaudible) just ask how you deal with the subsurface oil problem or (inaudible) response (inaudible)?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: We have not generally done subsurface responses with one exception.  When we have a specific gravity of very heavy oil and it actually sinks to the bottom where it’s in one place, we actually have had responses over the last 20 or 30 years where we have actually done oil recovery where it was heavier than the water sitting on the bottom.

I’m not familiar in my own personal experience in dealing with oil in the subsurface area, but we will do some research and get back to you.  My own personal experience—I have not dealt with it.

MODERATOR: Operator, if we could go to the phones please?

OPERATOR: You have a question from the line (inaudible).

Q:  Hello, (inaudible), thank you for taking my call. My question is for Admiral Allen.  Over the weekend, Tony Hayward said that BP is paying every claim and that’s obviously not factually true.  So my question is, why should the American people and the people of the Gulf Coast, in particular, be comfortable with the current situation where the government is allowing BP to manage the contractors who are doing the majority of the clean up, as well as manage the claims process?  And I mean is the oversight sufficient?  And are you personally comfortable or satisfied with the situation?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, the answer is we’re not comfortable with it.  As I stated earlier, we’re convening a meeting this week with senior BP officials to look at the claims process.  You know working claims is not something that’s part of BP’s organizational competency or capacity and they’re relying on subcontractors to do this.  It’s our responsibility to make sure that’s being done effectively in the best interests of the American people.  To that end, I’ve designated Tracy Waring as part of our integrated services team and she and I will be meeting with BP in the next day or two and we’re going to dispatch a team to go to every state and reconcile the data associated with the claims service thus far.  But also take a look at how they’re processing individual claims and how they’re processing business losses and I’m doing this as a result of feedback we’ve received and feedback provided to the President on his visit to the area. So we are reconciling any differences on that this week and we’ll be reporting out in the future news conferences.

MODERATOR: Next question.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Joseph Michael.

Q: Good morning.  Two quick questions.  How many birds or other animals have been cleaned and treated thus far?  And there are reports this morning that this cut and cap method may have actually made the spill a little bit worse and I was wondering what your observations are on that?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: The number of birds and wildlife that have been treated varies significantly day to day and we’ll get you the exact numbers on that.  In relation to the increased flow following the riser cut, we estimated it would be 20 percent over the existing flow.  That existing flow was modeled at either 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day or 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day.  As I noted earlier, I’ve re-empanelled the Flow Rate Technical Group under the direction of Marcia McNutt, head of the U.S. Geological Survey, and they are going to go back and refine the assumptions on the original flow rate and then give us their best estimate on the impact of the cut of the riser pipe.  I would then think we would average both together and make public in a very transparent way what we feel the new flow rate is for the spill.

MODERATOR: Next question.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes is from Jim Polson.

Q: Yes, Admiral, there’s a renewed report today of a second spill in the same general area from a diamond offshore drilling rig.  There was a report of this back in May, apparently it was never confirmed.  I wondered if you had any information on that.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, that question was asked earlier and we’re going to get some detailed information we’ll (inaudible) later on this afternoon.  I have no personal knowledge of it, but I will check and we will make a public statement.

OPERATOR: Your next question is from the line of Chris Baltimore.

Q: My questions have been covered.  Thank you.

OPERATOR: Your next question is from the line of Jaquita White.

Q: Hi, thanks for taking my question.  As the deepwater enterprise reaches its production capacity of 15,000 barrels per day, I was wondering how far away in days is the next vessel or two vessels to arrive at the scene to help to collect oil or natural gas.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, the next vessel to arrive on scene is a vessel called the Q4000 and it’s a processing vessel.  It’s being staged right now.  I don’t have the exact time, but I believe it’s in the next two to three days.  That will add another 5,000 to 10,000 barrel capacity.  That should cover the rate of production we have right now.  In the long term, we are in the process of directing British Petroleum to give us a longer term containment plan, will actually allow us to have a better understanding of the production capacity and any vulnerabilities we may have going into the hurricane season.  At this point, they’re moving some very large vessels, one is from the North Sea and they’re going to set up more of a permanent way to be able to transfer that product to the surface.  They’re going to create basically what I would call an underwater mooring so the lines coming off the wellhead can go to that mooring and then up on a flexible hose up to production vessels and then larger vessels to take what’s produced ashore.  They’re looking at that in the next several weeks, but that is a follow on and a more permanent solution and a more durable solution in heavier weather than what we have right now.

MODERATOR: Next question.

OPERATOR: Next question is from Jessica Resnick.

Q: Hi, this is Jessica Resnick (inaudible) with Bloomberg News.  This is a question for Dr. Lubchenco.  I’m curious, given the concentrations and areas in which you recorded oil in these clouds or formations, about how much oil do you think is represented in the water column at this point?

ADMINISTRATOR LUBCHENCO: As we construct more and more of these MRI slices, we will be able to put together a more comprehensive understanding of the entirety of the Gulf and where the oil is and what concentration.  At the present, all we have are the water samples returned from some initial research missions and they provide us with just a couple of slices.  So what that information tells us is that there’s definitely oil there, it’s in low concentrations.  That does not mean it doesn’t have significant impact, the impact that it has we remain to understand and we are working aggressively to do just that.  But a more complete picture will require additional information and we’re in the process of getting that and we’ll share those data as soon as they are available.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Now let me just add on a comment here.  This gets back to the flow rate issue.  One of the reasons it’s very, very important to establish the flow rate is to develop what I would call an overall oil budget for lack of a better term.  Once we can make—establish a good model of the flow rate, we can then assess the entire aggregate amount that’s been discharged.

Once we have that amount, we can go back and make an estimate of what impact we’ve had within (inaudible), mechanical skimming, the application of dispersants and then how much oil is recovered at shore.

If you take that aggregate amount generally and compare that to the discharge rate, whatever is in between there is not covered, it might give us some idea and I’m talking very, very generally right now of what has not been accounted for.  But this is a very imprecise way to deal with this right now—but the first thing we have to do is get that flow rate projection as precise as we can and that starts with measuring the production on a daily basis so we really have a fixed flow that we can measure.

Next question.

OPERATOR The nest question is from Susan Baker.

Q: Hi, Admiral.  I’m curious, you know everyone talks about how this is going so well, but you have enough ships on scene to collect all of the oil that could be collected and you don’t even know how much oil is spilling into the Gulf.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: I have never said this is going well.  But we’re throwing everything we’ve got.  This is the largest oil spill response in the history of the country.  We knew this was catastrophic from the beginning when the oil rig exploded and caught on fire.

I’ve said time and time again there nothing good happens when oil is on the water and we’re making no illusions that this is anything other than a catastrophe and we’re addressing it as such and we will continue to do that.

MODERATOR: Next question, Operator.

OPERATOR: Your next question is from the line of David Ferenthal.

Q: Hello, everyone. Dave Ferenthal from The Washington Post.  I just want to make sure I understand, when the Q4000 gets there—your capacity will go up to anywhere between 25,000 and 30,000 barrels a day.  Is there some other jump in capacity that will come after that?  Or is that as high as the capacity will go for the foreseeable future?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, as I said, there’s a larger containment proposal that’s been submitted to us by British Petroleum and we’ll be acting on that and providing directions sometime in the next couple of days.

As part of that response, we need to do two things; number one, we need to have the capacity we need, number two, we need redundancy.  So it’s nice to be able to handle the flow that’s coming out of the well right now, but we would actually like to have two redundant systems so if we had a failure we could maintain production and then we need to be able to sustain that through what could be increased weather conditions as we go through the hurricane season.

So the first thing right now is the flow that’s being managed out of the top—the containment cap right now has not met the production limits of the vessels that are out there and we will have the Q4000 coming on.

That will be supplanted sometime later on this month with the two larger vessels and we’re going to require British Petroleum to create redundancy on production so that if we lose one part of it, we can still produce at the same rate and then at the same time, also be able to account for operations in a higher sea state.

MODERATOR: Operator, this is the last question please?

OPERATOR: Your last question is from the line of Kristen Hays.

Q: Hello, Admiral.  Good morning.  I’ve got two questions.  Is the larger containment proposal you just mentioned, is that part of BP’s hurricane ready proposal?  And also do you have—when they prepare for the hurricane ready system, do you have any concerns about them changing out that containment cap to a bigger cap?  The flow in between unfettered?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Yes.  It’s hard to disaggregate the production system that we want including the redundancy and the survivability in heavy weather.  So they need to put in as much survivability and sea keeping capabilities we would say as they’re doing that and the larger vessels they are bringing in will in fact do that.  But the fact of the matter is there’s no guarantee that we can sustain production and when we get to a certain sea state in a hurricane state.

So there are going to be time where we may be forced to suspend operations, remove the vessels for safety purposes and at that point, assets—the application of undersea dispersants, we could have oil discharging during that period of time.

I don’t think there’s any other way to do that because the well is not capped—it’s only being contained and the only way we can evacuate the oil is through production and the only way we can do production is with the rigs over the top.

And was there a second part to the question?  I’m sorry.

Q: The current containment cap for another bigger tighter seal of a cap, if they intend to do with their hurricane ready—overall hurricane ready system.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: There are several caps they have out there.  In fact, some of them are wet stored on the bottom.  We’ve had no recommendation or indication that they want move from the current cap.  Should the conditions change and that become something that we would want to do, we would certainly make that public.

Thank you—that’s it.

OPERATOR: Thank you for participating in today’s conference call.  You may now disconnect.


For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.


Source: deepwaterhorizonresponse.com