Last night, the failed BOP that had allowed BP’s Macondo well to flow uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days earlier this year was recovered after a risky US government-ordered replacement procedure was completed.
The massive structure was slowly recovered throughout the day and into the night, stopping about 500 feet below the surface to flush it with methanol to melt methane hydrates on the inside. About 9 pm central time, it was lifted to the deck, where agents from the Department of Justice took control. It will be moved to a NASA facility to detailed analysis. I’m wondering who the government will use as experts, since the ones being investigated are the ones who know how this monster works (or doesn’t as in this case).
Here’s a video of the recovery, sped up about 8 times. Have a look:
Yesterday, I was talking with an independent bookseller about a signing we are planning for later this fall when my book is released. She asked me what one thing I would describe to people in a talk that would help them understand this business. After thinking about it a minute, the word I thought of was “massive”. People often don’t understand just how big the equipment and rigs are that drill oil and gas wells, especially in the offshore. The video above gives you the sense of that scale as they recover a BOP that is basically the size of a 5 story building and weighs almost half a million pounds.
Now that the well is safe, hopefully the BP/US partnership will do what they’ve been saying they would do since April: finish the relief well, so we all know for certain that this tragic chapter in our history is closed.