Hurricane Alex was expected to reach the Gulf of Mexico on July 1, 2010, but it is now being said that the tropical storm will just miss the BP oil well leak. However, the wind and waves that will come in from the Hurricane Alex are still likely to disrupt the clean up efforts by BP and push oil inland.
BP has been working since April to clean up and contain an oil leak that occured from an oil rig explosion on April 20 (Click here to read about the BP Oil Rig Explosion).
Kent Wells, senior vice president of exploration and production, told reporters that Hurricane Alex was not expected to interrupt current oil-capture systems or the drilling of a pair of relief wells intended to plug the leak by August. Although he did add that the wind and waves from the hurricane may cause a delay of up to a week.
The prospect of Hurricane Alex hitting the oil spill exposed how fragile the oil spill efforts are. Any weather system that generates winds in excess of 46 miles per hour could force all oil spill operations to stop. BP would need five days before the storm would hit to pack up all equipment and remove the personnel from the area. BP is now working to find solutions that would require less time down time if a storm or hurricane were to pass through. The company said it hopes to install a new oil-capturing system by next week that would allow them to disconnect the equipment faster and hook it back up quickly. The new system being developed, which uses a flexible hose, would cut the current 5 day process to two days.
Hurricane Alex is the first to be named in the 2010 hurricane season. It is expected to hit near the Mexico-Texas border, possibly Thursday.