New Orleans: BP said its main vessel
capturing oil from the huge Gulf of Mexico spill shut down
overnight due to a blocked vent, though it expected to restart
later Saturday after a lightning storm passes.
BP spokesman Robert Wine said the Discoverer
Enterprise, a ship siphoning 15,000 to 18,000 barrels of oil
per day directly from the containment cap atop the ruptured
well, shut down at 8:23 pm Friday (local time) due to a
blocked flame arrester.
The device is intended to stop the crude from
combusting by extinguishing the flame.
"That vent was partially blocked. It was blocking the
amount of oil that we could get into the storage tanks," Wine
"They shut it down to clear that out and then the
weather was turning bad and there was a risk of lightning, so
rather than restart during a lightning storm, they decided to
wait it out."
Asked for a precise timeframe for relaunching
collecting operations aboard the Discoverer Enterprise, Wine
said "it depends on the weather, nothing much we can do about
Yesterday, BP recovered a total of some 24,500 barrels
of oil, a slightly lower figure than the 25,290 barrels
captured the day before, but officials said the change was due
to the Discoverer Enterprise being forced to halt its
BP said it had collected its largest volume so far --
nearly 30,000 barrels of oil -- in a 24-hour period ending
late Friday, marginally exceeding their maximum projected
A second vessel, the Q4000, joined the effort on
Tuesday and is now collecting close to 10,000 barrels of oil
each day, which it burns onboard. The ship also flares natural
gas escaping from the ruptured wellhead.
By the end of this month, BP hopes to implement a third
containment option, a free-standing riser known as the Helix
Producer placed on the seafloor some 5,000 feet (1,500 meters)
below the surface.
Together, all three methods are expected to process or
burn off upwards of 50,000 barrels per day.
In mid-July, the firm also plans to place a new cap
over the blowout preventer, a towering set of valves that were
supposed to stop the leak and prevent the huge explosion April
20 aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that led to the
The Discoverer Enterprise would then be connected to
the well through another riser, while other processing vessels
would also collect oil, for a total containment capacity of
60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day.