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$60 BP stock price on April 20 (day of explosion): $60.48 55
BY MAX RUST AND STEVE LAYTON, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
early two months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and its underwater well began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, tension between the rig’s operator, BP, and the U.S. government has reached a fever pitch. Frustration on both sides has been fueled by the inability stop the flow of oil, which is increasingly threatening the environmentally and economically sensitive Gulf Coast and has driven BP’s stock to half its value prior to the explosion. Recent estimates put the amount of spilled oil as high as 4 3 84 million barrels, making the disaster by far the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
P H OTO C O U RT E S Y O F B P
A robotic arm controlled by BP technicians attempts to stop the flow of oil from the main leak. This attempt, like so many others, failed.
● April 22 “It certainly has the potential to be a major spill.” — David Rainey, vice president of Gulf of Mexico exploration for BP ● May 2 “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill.” — President Barack Obama, on his first trip to the Gulf to view the damage ● May 3 “This is not our accident, but it’s our responsibility.” — Tony Hayward, BP CEO ● May 11 “We obviously did not expect a situation like this.” — Lamar McKay, president of BP America
● June 1 “If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response.” Attorney General Eric Holder, announcing the launch of a criminal investigation into the spill
● June 4 “Things are going as planned. I’m quite encouraged.” — BP Vice President Kent Wells, on the early success of the containment cap in siphoning oil ● June 14 “It’s going to be painful for a lot of folks. Folks are going to be frustrated.” — Obama, on the oil spill’s long-term consequences
● May 14 “A ridiculous spectacle.” — Obama, commenting on n Capitol Hill hearings hearings a g in which BP, Transocean and d Halliburton blamed blamed m d each other for the the disaster ● May 24 ss “This is a BP mess. mess. This is a horrible horrible b mess.” — Interior Secretary Secretary c a Ken Salazar, adding adding n government w n the government will put a “boot on the e neck” of BP if ” necessary
KEY: ● Comments from BP officials ● Comments from the Obama administration Attempts to stop the flow (see below) Hayward
● May 29 “This scares everybody — the fact that we cannot make make e this well stop p flowing.” — Doug Suttles, BP tles, , chief of operations operations a o
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SPILL ESTIMATES (in barrels per day) BP’s initial estimates of the rate of oil leaking into the Gulf have been dwarfed as independent scientists have been able to study the expanse of the oil slick from the air and video footage of the leaking pipe. U.S. officials this week estimated the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf each day ranges from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels.
40,000 BP stock price on June 15: $31.40
Growth of the spill
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April 20: The rig explodes and catches fire, killing 11 workers. Two days later the rig sinks as concerns mount that the well could be leaking oil into the Gulf. Those concerns are confirmed days later.
May 8: In the first sign of the oil spill reaching Alabama, tar balls begin washing up on Dauphin Island, a recreation area just off the state’s coast.
May 19: Oil enters the loop current near Florida, sparking fear Florida’s beaches could be inundated with oil. Two days later, oil reaches Grand Isle, La., a major tourist destination.
June 3: Louisiana officials begin creating berms — giant mounds of sand — along the shore to try to prevent oil from entering the state’s delicate marshlands.
June 12: The Coast Guard tells BP the company needs to come up with a better plan to capture the oil leaking from the well.
BP has tried numerous, complicated procedures to plug the oil leak, almost all of which have failed. One of the primary obstacles, the company has said, is the unprecedented depth of the leak, which has required all of the work be completed by small submersible robots.
RELIEF WELLS BP is drilling two relief wells, slated for completion in August. Once one of the wells intersects with the leaking well, heavy liquid and cement will be pumped in, with the hope of stopping the flow of oil. Drill rig Oil slick Drill rig
May 8: Containment chamber
May 28: “Junk shot”
A large, building-size chamber placed over the leak days before fails to capture leaking oil. Crystallike structures called hydrates, which are produced when oil and gas mix with extremely cold water, clogged the top of the chamber.
Workers attempt to jam the well with golf balls and pieces of rubber. It fails.
Blowout preventers were lowered into relief wells May 11: “Top hat”
May 29: “Sever and cap” BP announces it will attempt to cut the well pipe near the leak and place a giant cap on it. The cap is intended to contain the oil and siphon it through a tube to an awaiting ship on the surface.
April 28: Protective boom
In the first efforts to contain the spill, crews conduct controlled oil burns and lay out protective boom — netlike structures designed to corral the oil into pools away from the shore where it can be burned.
Workers lower a second, smaller containment device called a “top hat” onto the seafloor. The hope is that the structure is too small for hydrates to form and clog the flow of oil. The device is never used.
5,249 ft. below surface
May 16: Insertion tube
P O 3 PAT R I C K K E L L E Y / U. S . C O A S T G UA R D / M C T
May 2: Relief wells
Drilling began May 16; progress as of June 7
A tube connected to a ship on the surface is inserted into the damaged pipe to siphon the leaking oil. Despite what appears to be initial success, the pipe fails to collect a significant amount of oil.
Chemical dispersants are sprayed on the Gulf surface and underwater, intending to break up the oil. Underwater robots are deployed to install a shutoff valve on a piece of broken pipe underwater. BP begins drilling two relief wells that could take months to complete.
Drilling began May 2; progress as of June 7
15,00 0 ft.
May 26: “Top kill”
Officials attempt to force drilling fluid into the well in an attempt to drive the leaking oil back into the earth. The procedure, which had never been performed at this depth, ends up failing. Wells will intersect with leaking well at about 18,000 ft.
On June 2, the cutting of the pipe is briefly halted when the saw gets stuck. It is later resumed, and the cap is placed atop the well. The device eventually begins to siphon a portion of the leaking oil.
P H OTO C O U RT E S Y O F B P
A containment cap is lowered to the area of cut riser pipe on June 3.
SOURCES: BP, Deepwater Horizon Response Unified NOTE: Drawing awing atic is schematic and not to scale
June 15: Capture efforts increased To assist in capturing more oil, BP has added a second vessel, which is expected to boost the total volume of captured oil by 10,000 barrels a day to a total of 28,000. The company hopes to be capturing about 50,000 barrels a day by the end of the month.