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BP announces enhancements to oil cleanup plan

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • BP announces two enhancements to cleanup spill
  • A separate riser will take oil, gas to surface vessel
  • Free-standing undersea riser will allow disconnection during hurricane

(CNN) -- Oil company BP's latest plan to cap the undersea well now gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico has been modified to collect more crude and to prepare for a possible hurricane, the company said late Monday night.

The first enhancement is the addition of a separate riser to take oil and gas to a vessel on the surface. This riser will use hoses and manifold that were deployed for the failed "top kill" operation method of pumping mud to plug the leak.

This enhancement will be available for deployment by mid-June, the company said, and is intended to increase the efficiency of the containment operation.

The enhancement will be in addition to placing a custom-built cap to fit over a piece of equipment called the "lower marine riser package," scheduled to be deployed this week. That process will involve a clean cut of the riser package, and warm water will be circulated around the cap to prevent the freezing that hindered a previous dome-cap effort.

If successful, the procedure will allow BP to collect most -- but not all -- of the oil spewing from the well. The long-term solution is the drilling of a relief well that will be in place by August.

The next enhancement, expected to be implemented in late June or early July, is a free-standing riser ending approximately 300 feet below sea level.

Oil and gas will be directed to this riser and a flexible hose will be attached to a containment vessel.

This enhancement will allow the company to disconnect during a hurricane and then reconnect.

Hurricane season begins Tuesday.