Gulf oil spill: What if BP taps leaking Macondo well again?
BP says its only priority is to shut down the Macondo well responsible for the Gulf oil spill. But industry experts say BP could still try to get oil from the well in the future.
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Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, estimated the Macondo well contained about 50 million to 100 million barrels of oil in an interview with the Houston Chronicle on May 6. This would make it a relatively modest discovery. By contrast, BP announced on Sept. 2, 2009, what it termed a “giant” discovery from its Tiber prospect in the Gulf. Energy analysts say the term is usually associated with oil fields of at least 250 million barrels.Skip to next paragraph
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Quest for deepwater oil continues
Oil companies usually can only extract about 30 percent of the oil in a field, says Mr. Dismukes. He cautions that the BP estimate of as many as 100 million barrels in the Macondo prospect is based on limited information. Normally, oil companies drill several wells before they can determine the size of an oil field.
The Macondo field has been a challenge for BP, which acquired the lease from the US in 2008. According to RigZone, an online Houston-based trade publication that follows the oil drilling industry, BP started drilling in October 2009 using the Transocean Marianas, a semisubmersible drilling rig. However, at the end of November the oil rig was damaged by Hurricane Ida.
The drilling was then taken over by the Deepwater Horizon, another semisubmersible.
Most energy analysts expect most new US oil finds to come from deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico, provided the Deepwater Horizon accident doesn't curtail exploration. In 2008, the Energy Information Administration estimated proven oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico were about 6 billion barrels or less than a year’s supply at current usage rates.
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