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

By Andrew Moseman | July 12, 2010 9:26 am

Gulf Oil SpillWill 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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology
  • Eric H

    This had better be the solution, but we all know for past experiences its probably not. Bp might have to up that 20billion escrow to 20 trillion the way this is going, 20 billion is a rather small number to them andthe way things are going its going to cost WAY more than that. This is devestating the southern life style for fishermen and other companies who rely on tourism for a living. I hope at least, we are learning from this mistake, that is, never leave the worlds safety in a lazy, cutting corners company’s hands again.

  • rabidmob

    20 Billion is not rather small to any corporation.

    I think after they cap it, they should do their, “junk shot,” again plug that hole up, don’t want it to spring another leak in 5-10 years or whatever.

    It’s simply amazing how much oil has been shot out of that well, I mean you would think as some poin the pressure would equalize, apparently we have not yet reached that point.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar