BP Plc is to begin testing additional methods over the weekend to capture oil gushing out of a well in the Gulf of Mexico, as President Barack Obama travels to the region again next week to get a first-hand look at clean-up efforts.
The second rig-based system could be operational as early as Monday and is projected to capture an additional 10,000 barrels a day, bringing the total daily recovery capacity to 28,000 barrels, according to Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president for exploration and production, Bloomberg news reported.
The second system will route the captured oil to a floating rig through hoses that were already installed for the failed “top-kill” operation, which was unable to plug the well.
BP said it was more efficient to burn off the oil than store it, which would require bringing in another tanker to collect the oil above the ruptured well.
A dome-like containment cap put in place last week was capturing up to 2.4 million litres of oil daily, said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is leading the U.S. government’s response to the disaster.
The leaking well lies about 1.6 km below the surface. The captured oil is funnelled to the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise, which collected 15,800 barrels Wednesday, Allen said.
U.S. officials said Thursday that BP had agreed to expedite the claims process to compensate all workers and businesses affected by the spill, amid complaints that the energy giant has been slow to pay for economic losses.
On Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Obama is scheduled to visit the three other Southern states affected by the disaster: Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. He has already made three visits to Louisiana since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20.
On Thursday, Mr. Obama met with family members of the 11 workers who were killed when the rig exploded, expressing condolences and assuring them of the government’s support.
A White House statement said that Mr. Obama told the families “that while offshore drilling is a part of our nation’s overall energy strategy, he simply could not go forward with new deepwater drilling until we have the proper safety measures in place to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.” Mr. Obama, who has been criticized for the federal government’s response to the spill, suggested earlier this week that much of the disaster’s effects could be mitigated within three years, a timeline that scientists consider overly optimistic.