HOUSTON, June 19 - BP said one of its oil-capture systems at the gushing leak in the Gulf of Mexico shut down on Friday night to fix a problem on a piece of fire-prevention equipment.
Spokesman Robert Wine said on Saturday a “flame arrestor” on a vent atop an oil storage tank on the drillship collecting oil was blocked, so it was shut down at 8:23 p.m. CDT to allow crews to clean it out.
A flame arrestor is a device on the vent designed to dissipate heat to reduce the risk of fire, Mr Wine said.
When a lightning storm blew in, BP decided to wait until it passed to restart. The restart was to happen on Saturday, Mr Wine said.
The second system, where more oil is being burned off at a service rig, was operating normally, Mr Wine said.
Before the shutdown, the two systems captured 24,500 barrels a day of oil, or 87.5 per cent of the total capacity of 28,000 barrels a day.
The drillship system, in which a containment cap at the top of failed blowout preventer equipment at the seabed channels oil to the ship a mile above at the water’s surface, collected 14,400 barrels, down from the 16,020 barrels collected in the previous uninterrupted 24-hour period, BP said.
The company said the second system, where oil is siphoned through a hose connected to the blowout preventer to the service rig at the surface, burned off 10,100 barrels of oil.
That is the rig’s daily oil-handling capacity, according to BP.
The rig must burn off oil because it has no storage or processing capacity, unlike the drillship, BP said.
The total amount of oil collected by the containment cap system since it was installed on June 3 reached 205,570 on Friday. The total burned off by the service rig since it began siphoning oil early Wednesday reached 23,220 barrels on Friday, according to BP figures.