FACTBOX-BP's increased capacity to handle oil, next steps

June 18 Fri Jul 2, 2010 3:06pm EDT

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June 18 (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L)(BP.N) is moving ahead with its plan to increase oil-capture capacity at its gushing Gulf of Mexico leak to 80,000 barrels a day (3.4 million gallons/12.7 million litres) by mid-July.

Here are details of BP's efforts, as explained by the company an the U.S. Coast Guard:

CURRENT SYSTEM:

* A containment cap atop failed blowout preventer equipment at the seabed captures oil from the leak. It channels the oil through a fixed pipe to Transocean Ltd's (RIG.N) Discoverer Enterprise drillship at the ocean's surface, one mile (1.6 km) above.

* The Enterprise can process up to 18,000 barrels a day and store up to 147,000 barrels.

* A service rig, the Helix Q4000, siphons more oil from a hose and pipe connected to the blowout preventer.

* Oil must be burned off because the rig has no storage capacity to keep it onboard. Natural gas is flared as well.

* The Q4000 can take more than 10,000 barrels a day.

MORE CAPACITY COMING

* By July 7, BP intends to hook up a third vessel that will increase oil-handling capacity to up to 53,000 barrels a day.

* BP will connect a second blowout preventer hose to a floating pipe connected to the Helix Producer, a rig with capacity to process up to 25,000 barrels a day.

* The floating-pipe setup allows the vessel to disconnect quickly from the pipe and move out of the way if a hurricane approaches.

MORE HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

* In the next seven to 10 days, U.S. officials and BP will decide whether to replace the containment cap with a larger cap and seal designed to capture all or most of the crude leaking from the top of the blowout preventer equipment.

* By mid-July, the Toisa Pisces, a well-testing ship revamped to process up to 25,000 barrels a day, will replace the Q4000 and be connected to the blowout preventer via a second floating pipe.

* The Discoverer Enterprise and a second drillship, Transocean's Discoverer Clear Leader, will each be connected to the new containment cap via hoses and drill pipes.

* The four vessels will have a combined capacity of up to 80,000 barrels a day and can disconnect quickly to move out of a hurricane's path.

ANOTHER HURRICANE-READY POSSIBILITY:

* BP is looking into designating one or more Gulf platforms to collect and process oil and gas from the leak.

* The system could involve fabricating and laying a new seabed pipeline to channel oil to one or more platforms.

* The pipeline could also possibly channel oil to an abandoned well to be injected back into a reservoir.

* Platforms are moored to the seabed and built to withstand storms, while drillships and rigs typically disconnect from seabed operations and move when a hurricane comes.

THE RELIEF WELLS

* Drilling continues on two relief wells intended to intercept the well and plug the leak well beneath the seabed. The first was begun on May 2 and the second on May 16. Both are expected to be finished in August. Of all the methods BP has used to try to contain the oil, the relief wells are the only proven technology expected to plug the leak. (Reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston; Editing by Bill Trott)

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