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The conversion is expected to create a machine capable of skimming up to 500,000 barrels (at 42 gallons per barrel that is 21 million gallons) of oil from the surface of the ocean waters.
The tests will last 48 hours the Coastguard will oversee the activity. The company hopes the test will result in a contract with BP to increase their capacity to recover oil escaping into the Gulf of Mexico. Sanio Radhakrishnan, the ship's captain, told reporters that the ship was previously tested in waters off the coast of Portugal. However, the tests now have to prove to the Coastguard and BP that it will work in these waters with this waste stream.
BP currently has about 500 to 650 boats taking part in skimming operations. A total of 595,000 barrels of oil and water have been collected from the sea in the first 68 days of the spill event. A Whale could gather up to 300,000 barrels in eight to 10 hours. There is not a good estimate of just how much oil is currently floating on the water.