Oil Recovery Rates Steady: BP

BP said the rate at which it
was recovering oil was holding steady as a large skimming vessel is undergoing
preparations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil giant said it retrieved
12,035 barrels during the first half of Saturday, roughly a third of which was
burned. BP collected a total of 25,290 barrels on Friday, a slight increase
from the 25,150 collected Thursday.

This brings the total number
of barrels of oil recovered since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded
to almost 600,000, BP said in an operational update on its website on Saturday.

The blast that sunk
Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon in late April killed 11 workers and caused
the oil spill that is now ranked as one of the largest in history. Scientists
estimate that 35,000-60,000 barrels of crude oil are flowing out of the Macondo
well every day.

The oil-recovery rate has
stabilized following disruptions caused by Hurricane Alex, which made landfall
in Mexico hundreds of miles west of the spill but whose storm surge halted
operations to skim oil off surface waters near the coast.

Large amounts of oil weren’t
visible near the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana, said Rear Adm.
Paul Zukunft, representative of the US Coast Guard commandant, who flew over
the area on Friday as skimmers and barriers called boom were being redeployed.

“We are not out of the woods
yet,” a press release quoted Zukunft as saying.

Officials began testing on
Friday the A Whale ship, a Taiwanese ship that has been retrofitted to become
the world’s largest skimming vessel. If successful, the ship has the potential
to take in as much oil-infused water in a day as smaller skimming boats have
collected in two months.

In addition, preparations
are also underway to hook up a third containment vessel called the Helix
Producer to the well. It’s set to come on line on 7 July and is expected to
boost oil-collection rates.

The
oil spill has damaged the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem and marred hundreds of miles
of coastline, hurting the region’s fishing and tourism industries. It has wiped
billions from BP’s market value and catalysed opposition to offshore drilling
for hydrocarbons.

The spill has forced
the Obama administration to respond aggressively by overhauling regulations and
decreeing a moratorium on offshore drilling, as well as by pushing for new
energy legislation.

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