With Tropical Storm Bonnie becoming a potential threat to the Gulf of Mexico, BP plc on Friday said it was suspending relief well activities targeting its blownout Macondo well.
"Duration of the suspension of relief well activities will be dependent on the weather," BP said.
A cap on the well was expected to remain in place. The well has been undergoing integrity testing since placement of the cap a week ago (see Daily GPI, July 20). BP said it would continue to monitor the well as long as weather permitted.
During a press briefing Friday morning, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard said responders were assuming that very early Saturday storm-force winds could be experienced at the well site.
"As of Friday morning, waves in the area were between two and four feet," AccuWeather.com said. "Bonnie's impact in the Gulf could create waves between five and eight feet on Saturday."
Allen said that some oil from the spill could be driven inland to marsh areas. This happened when Hurricane Alex passed through the area earlier, he noted. However, AccuWeather's Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist, said that because Bonnie is a fast-moving storm it would have less time to drive oil inland from Gulf waters.
While Bonnie was threatening Macondo operations, it was largely perceived as a non-threat to other operations in the Gulf or to gas markets. However, as a safety precaution platform evacuations were under way in the Gulf on Friday
Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CDT Friday, personnel were evacuated from 11 production platforms, equivalent to 1.74% of the 634 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
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