Kate Mackenzie New BP oil collection plan brings risk of too many boats

BP had a rather chilling warning included in its plan to increase the amount of oil it collects from the Macondo well (our emphasis):

It is important to note that as we move into a multi-vessel containment operation the health and safety of our people remains our absolute number one priority. The risks of operating multiple facilities in close proximity must be carefully managed. Several hundred people are working in a confined space with live hydrocarbons on up to 4 vessels. This is significantly beyond both BP and industry practice. We will continue to agressively drive schedule to minimize the pollution, but we must not allow this drive to compromise our number one priority, that being the health and safety of our people. The continued support and direction of the US Coast Guard and the MMS is essential to a successful and safe operation.

BP’s Kent Wells made another video a few days ago explaining how the new collection efforts would (hopefully) work. In it, he talks a lot about how seriously BP takes redundancies (that’s technical speak for back-up facilities/capacity).

His presentation makes clear there will be quite a few vessels involved, although not all will necessarily be there at the same time.

This, as far as we can make out, are the major vessels either at the site or being sent there; there are likely several smaller ones for lightering (transferring oil between ships) too.

Currently deployed:

- Discoverer Enterprise for oil collection and main platform
- Overseas Cascade – shuttle tanker (to ship oil to shore)
- Massachusetts – another shuttle tanker/barge
- Skandi Neptune – Subsea dispersant operations

Being brought into action this week:

Helix Q4000 – was used for top kill; now being reconfigured for increased oil collection, oil separation (from gas) and burning oil and gas.
Being deployed in July

- Toisa Pisces – (from July 1)  – to connect to the new floating riser
+ storage tanker Loch Rannoch
- Helix Producer – (mid-July) – to connect to the other floating riser
+ 2 storage tankers – Evi Knutsen and Juanita


Discoverer Clear Leader – is for redundancy for Discoverer Enterprise; eg in case of hurricanes; holds up to 124k barrels and can be used for long-term collection.

Here is Kent Wells’ video if you want to see his explanation: