Planet Earth

One Cap Off, One Cap On: BP Tries Another Plan to Catch Leaking Oil

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanJul 12, 2010 1:26 PM


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Will this solution finally be the solution? Today in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is attempting to secure another containment cap onto its oil leak, which the company says could trap and collect all the oil gushing from the leak—if it works. On Saturday BP removed the leaky cap that had been catching a little bit of the oil, meaning that the oil is now flowing unchecked into the Gulf as engineers race to install the new one. This is the latest try in a string of attempts to cap the leak, and BP's Kent Wells says that engineers are lowering the new, tighter-fitting cap into place this morning.

The new cap, which should eventually not allow any gas or oil to escape, will be used to divert more oil to collection ships that will be brought in over the next two to three weeks, Mr. Wells said. “We’ll continue to ramp up the capacity so that sometime along the line, whatever the flow is, we’ll capture it all,” he said [The New York Times].

BP says it hopes to have the new cap installed by the end of the day. Still, it could be mid-week by the time they know how successful they were.

Once the cap is firmly in place, the company will begin "shutting in" the well by closing perforated pipe at the top. The company will be looking to see if the pressure rises under the cap. If it does, that means there are no other leaks, and the cap is stopping oil from leaking into the Gulf. But lower pressure readings may indicate leaking elsewhere in the well. In that case, Suttles said, the company will work to collect the leak with surface vessels and by dropping yet another cap on top of the stack [AP].

While BP continues to play musical containment caps, its backup project—drilling relief wells to ultimately stem the flow—continues. Company spokespeople say the new wells could intercept the old well by the end of July, though even after that it would take a few weeks into August to pump in enough mud and cement to stop the leak—if it works.

"At this point, there have been so many ups and downs, disappointments, that everybody down here is like, 'We'll believe it when we see it,'" said Keith Kennedy, a charter boat captain in Venice, La [MSNBC].

Recent posts on the BP oil spill: 80beats: BP Oil Update: Tar Balls in Texas & Lake Pontchartrain

80beats: Gulf Coast Turtle News: No More Fiery Death; Relocating 70,000 Eggs

80beats: Next from X Prize: An Award for Cleaning up BP’s Oil Spill?

80beats: BP to Kevin Costner: We’ll Take 32 of Your Oil Clean-up Machines

Image: BP

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