Reporting from Los Angeles and Biloxi
Crews were expected to spend much of the weekend assembling a mile-long pipe system leading to an underwater containment dome that by Monday could start catching the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico in a swirl of contamination.
The metal containment device, which resembles a 4-story, boxy version of the “Wizard of Oz” Tin Man, was being lowered gently Friday into position over the main leak feeding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Placing the dome is the first step in a laborious process that could easily go awry. “This is going to take a few days … and it may or may not work,” said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry.
If it does work, the dome won’t shut down the fountain of crude spurting from a broken pipe on the muddy gulf floor. “This is not the final solution,” Landry said. But it could capture most of the oil and funnel it 5,000 feet upward to a waiting ship.
While BP moves ahead with the containment strategy, the company is also plotting how to plug the blown-out wellhead that has spewed an estimated 3 million gallons of oil since a deadly April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig.
“We’re going to continue to look for every option we can find,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said.
The company has flown in 20 experts from around the world and is even reviewing suggestions from a public call-in line.
Suttles said BP has discarded some ideas for stopping the oil gusher and is now evaluating two other options. One would involve installing a new blowout preventer device over the one that failed.
The other strategy would be as simple as stuffing the broken preventer with rubber cuttings, rather like stopping up a toilet.
A company spokesman declined to comment Friday night on an Associated Press report that said rig workers have told BP investigators that the blowout was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column….
WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) — The deadly oil rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a methane gas bubble that escaped and shot toward the surface, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
The bubble of methane gas expanded quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers and then exploded, the report said, citing BP’s internal investigation by interviewing rig workers.
The explosion on April 20 at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about 42 km southeast of Venice, Louisiana, killed 11 workers and touched off a massive underwater gusher.
The documents obtained by the AP provide “the most detailed account of what may have caused the April 20 blast,” said the report.
Seven BP executives were on board the rig celebrating the project’s safety record, while the workers were operating on the rig to convert it from an exploration well to a production one.
“As the workers removed pressure from the drilling column and introduced heat to set the cement seal around the wellhead, the chemical reaction created a gas bubble and the cement around the pipe destabilized,” according to the interviews…
VENICE, United States, May 5 (Xinhua) — Energy giant British Petroleum (BP) on Wednesday dispatched a steel “dome” in an unprecedented attempt to bring the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico under control.
The dome, a giant steel containment device, left Port Fourchon, Louisiana, Wednesday on a barge for the ruptured undersea oil well some 52 km off Venice, Louisiana, where the container will be placed over the leaking well.
“If all goes according to plan, we should begin the process of processing the fluid and stop the spilling to the sea on Monday,” Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, said Wednesday.
BP said it already stopped one of the three leaks in the wrecked wellhead.
The newly built 100-ton container will collect the leaking oil, which would be sucked up to a drill ship on the surface, according to BP….
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How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?
Thousands of tonnes of oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico after the disaster at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig over two weeks ago. But how does this leak compare with the largest offshore spills on record?
The current size of the Deepwater Horizon spill is hard to measure exactly, but attempts can be made to estimate it.
Based on oil flow calculations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr Simon Boxall, a marine pollution expert, says a total current spill can be estimated at about 7,000 to 10,000 tonnes of oil. (See factbox below for how this was worked out.)
But such estimates should always carry a caveat, he says, as these can be affected by factors such as the condition of the rig, the well and the quality of information available….