BP finally managed to place the LMRP on the leaking well late Thursday night but it does not appear to be working.
The Lower Marine Riser Package or LMRP consists of a barrel like cap that is attached to a mile long riser, which extends to the surface. The riser out of the well was crushed by the sinking of the Horizon rig. That broken riser was cut off the well head on Wednesday and late Thursday the new cap and riser was set on top of the well by the robot subs. The oil and gas that was flowing unrestricted out of the well with no riser was supposed to be captured by the new LMRP system.
The new LMRP had multiple systems attached in an effort to prevent the formation of gas hydrates when the cap was installed. There were two pipes attached pumping heated seawater and methanol into the cap in an effort to keep hydrates from forming and blocking the new riser. There was also two valves to let the oil and gas flow through the cap into the ocean until the cap was securely in place.
When the cap was lowered onto the well the massive amount of oil and gas flowing out of the well instantly filled up the cap and began flowing out from under the cap as if there were no valves or pipes to the surface. Whether hydrates formed and blocked the pipe or the volume of hydrocarbons was just too much for the system to handle is unknown. However, early Friday morning there was still a large amount of gas and oil still flowing out from under the cap. Whatever they are doing does not appear to be working.
BP already has four more plans in progress for containing the oil. This includes a different riser cap already on the sea floor. A device they are calling the Q4000 Direct Connect. This will siphon off gas and oil through the pipes they connected in the failed top kill process. They also have a Long Term Containment device under construction that will pipe the oil through a floating riser 300 ft below the surface to ships waiting above. This is so they can disconnect during a hurricane and quickly reconnect once it is over. They still have the two relief wells with projected completion in August. BP is spending a billion dollars in its effort to stop this well and that does not count the $500,000 per day rental for each of the three Transocean drilling platforms and the Helix Q4000 rig.
The administration is becoming increasingly hostile to BP and submitted a $69 million bill to BP for costs incurred in the cleanup. President Obama canceled his trip to Australia for the second time and plans to return to the gulf for the third time. I guess walking on an oil fouled beach is still good for votes. His approval rating on the oil spill is dropping fast so expect to see a lot more of the president on TV discussing the spill in the coming weeks.