Effort to stop Deepwater oil leak unlucky
An attempt to cap the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has hit yet another obstacle, reported officials from British Petroleum (BP).
Friday night’s attempt to install a 6-inch (15.2cm) tube into the leaking drill pipe was only the latest in a series of efforts by BP to stop or slow down the spill. Previously, the oil company had tried to enclose the pipe with a large container dome, and then lowered a smaller “top hat” container dome.
The siphon tube method is designed to reduce the amount of oil flowing into the ocean, but is not a permanent solution to stopping the leak altogether. It will draw the oil from the broken pipe to a tanker at the surface, said BP.
The tube was to be inserted into the broken pipe by robotic submarines, but the attempt on Friday to do so was unsuccessful, causing it to be taken back up for changes. The problem was a metal frame on the tube, which had changed position and this prevented the tube sent down from the drill ship Discover Enterprise from connecting. The tube had not been inserted into the leaking drill pipe before it was brought back up.
BP said that it would try again Saturday night (local time) to slow the leak using a reconfigured tube. If this attempt is unsuccessful, they will use the smaller dome to cap the leak, and may also try to plug the leak by covering it with trash, mud, or concrete.
The company is already in the process of drilling relief wells to completely stop the leak, but this is expected to take several more months. The amount of oil currently leaking from the pipe is disputed, and BP said it has spent several hundred million US dollars in response to the oil spill.
BP was also given permission yesterday by the US Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency to use chemical oil dispersants to combat the spill.