Faced with unrelenting pressure to show that it can fix the Deepwater Horizon rig wreck oil leak, BP plc (NYSE: BP) has written Rear Admiral James Watson of the Coast Guard outlining aggressive plans to increase the amount of crude it collects each day. On June 11, Watson wrote BP’s COO Douglas Suttles demanding that the company speed the rate at which leaking oil was prevented from flowing into the Gulf.
By mid-June, BP plans to bring in new equipment from as far away as Brazil to capture 20,000 to 28,000 barrels a day. The next set of improvements to the capture mechanism will increase capacity to 40,000 to 53,000 barrels a day by late June. Adding two new risers by mid-July will increase capture capacity to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day.
At this point, the oil leak rate is estimated to be as high as 40,000 barrels a day. That means if everything goes right no crude will be leaking into the environment within a month. That’s — of course — barring any new leaks, a breakdown in equipment, or a hurricane.
Douglas A. McIntyre