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BP delays crucial test on new containment cap

07-14-2010 19:11 BJT

Turning to the Gulf of Mexico, where BP's massive oil leak has entered its 85th day. Almost four and a half million barrels of oil have gushed into the sea, but BP has delayed a crucial test on a new containment cap.

BP is preparing to begin to close valves on its new containment cap over its ruptured oil well head. The slow and methodical process could finally choke off the leak after three gloomy months.

Work continues on equipment at the site of the BP oil well spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in this image captured from a BP live video feed July 13, 2010. BP Plc on Tuesday delayed a critical test to determine if a new cap on its blown-out Macondo well can arrest the flow of oil that has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 12 weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) 
Work continues on equipment at the site of the BP oil well spill in the 
Gulf of Mexico, in this image captured from a BP live video feed July 13,
2010. BP Plc on Tuesday delayed a critical test to determine if a new 
cap on its blown-out Macondo well can arrest the flow of oil that has 
gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 12 weeks, the U.S. Coast 
Guard said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

A tighter-fitting cap was lowered on Monday night. If it works, the next step is to gradually shut the openings in the metal pipes and valves.

Pressure readings will be monitored in the meantime to see if the cap will hold or if any new leaks emerge.

If the cap fails, BP will reopen the valves and let some of the oil out. Experts say stopping the oil too quickly could blow the cap off or cause further damage the well.

US Coast Guards stressed there were no guarantees BP's latest move would end the environmental disaster.

Admiral Thad Allen, Top official Overseeing the Spill, said, "Even if we contain the well and even if the well is capped in mid August, there is still a significant amount of oil out there and the oil recovery and the impacts of this oil will probably extend well into the fall, in terms of oil coming ashore, tar balls, beach cleanup."

Meanwhile, engineers also spent hours on Tuesday on a seismic survey. They made a map of the rock under the sea floor to spot potential dangers, such as gas pockets.

It also provides a baseline to compare with later surveys during and after the test to see if the pressure on the well is causing underground problems.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source:

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