DOI News

Update: The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill


Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED July 12, 2010, 7:00 PM

* For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog.


BP Makes Progress on “Capping Stack” Procedure; ‘Well Integrity Test’ to Begin

After approval by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, BP made significant progress on its “capping stack” procedure—designed to capture even greater quantities of oil than the current “top hat” system. As a result of that progress, BP will perform a ‘Well Integrity Test’ tomorrow morning. This test involves closing one or more of the valves on the new cap for a period of time to allow BP to measure pressures in the well.

It also requires that the Helix Producer—which has been connected—and Q4000 collection systems be ramped down and placed in standby mode during the test. The measurements that will be taken during this test will provide valuable information about the condition of the well below the sea level and help determine whether or not it is possible to shut the well for a period of time, such as during a hurricane or bad weather, between now and when the relief wells are complete.

Admiral Allen has reviewed the protocols for this test, in consultation with the government science team. It will likely last anywhere from six to 48 hours or more depending on the measurements that are observed. BP will be in regular contact with the government during the test, and the government will halt the test if the risks of doing further damage to the surrounding formation are significant. Once the test has concluded, collection of the oil will resume.

Skimming Surge Continues Around the Wellsite to Combat Expected Flow Increase

In anticipation of increased oil flow during the capping stack procedure, skimmers were surged to the well site. Currently, 46 skimmers are operating in the vicinity of the well, in addition to more than 570 skimmers deployed to protect coastlines as part of the largest oil spill response in U.S. history. Throughout this response, the federal government has directed BP to develop more detailed plans, create redundancy measures in case those plans fail, and apply additional resources to the largest response to an oil spill in our nation’s history.

The graph below, produced by the Department of Energy, demonstrates the cumulative amount of oil recovered to date, combining the Discoverer Enterprise and the Q4000.

Total Oil Recovered
Secretary Salazar Issues New Suspensions to Guide Safe Pause on Deepwater Drilling

In order to protect communities, coasts, and wildlife from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today issued new suspensions of deepwater drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, saying a pause is needed to ensure that oil and gas companies first implement adequate safety measures to reduce the risks associated with deepwater drilling operations and are prepared for blowouts and oil spills.

Shallow water drilling activities, which do not present the same type or level of risks as deepwater drilling operations, can continue to move forward if operators are in compliance with all safety and environmental requirements, including new safety and environmental requirements implemented through recent Notices to Lessees. Production activities in federal waters of the Gulf are not affected by the deepwater drilling suspensions. For more information, click here.

FWS Releases 33 Birds and 22 Turtle Hatchlings Back to the Wild

As part of continued efforts to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats in the Gulf of Mexico from the impacts of the BP oil spill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released 22 brown pelicans and 11 Northern Gannets back to the wild at a city park adjacent to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel Island, Fla. The birds were transferred from the Bird Rehabilitation Centers in Fort Jackson, La., and Theodore, Ala.

At midnight last night, 22 hatchlings from the first Ridley sea turtle nest translocation project were released into the Atlantic Ocean at the Kennedy Space Center/Canaveral National Seashore in Florida. Dozens of nest relocations are expected to take place over the next several weeks.

Progress Continues in Drilling Relief Wells

The drilling of relief wells continues. The Development Driller III has drilled the first relief well to a depth of 17,840 feet below the Gulf surface. The Development Driller II has drilled the second relief well—a redundancy measure taken at the direction of the administration—to a depth of approximately 15,960 feet below the surface. BP continues the “ranging” process—which involves periodically withdrawing the drill pipe and sending an electrical signal down to determine how close they are getting to the wellbore.

Successful Controlled Burn

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the fourth consecutive day. As part of a coordinated response that combines tactics deployed above water, below water, offshore, and close to coastal areas, controlled burns efficiently remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. To date, more than 330 controlled burns have removed more than 10.3 million gallons of oil from the water.

Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $12 Million

SBA has approved 158 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $12.3 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 616 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $3.5 million per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email

Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process

The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 106,294 claims have been opened, from which more than $164.9 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 1,050 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at

By the Numbers to Date: