02
Jun
10

More trouble on the horizon for BP as oil moves towards Florida

NEWS
More trouble on the horizon for BP as oil moves towards Florida

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Earth

••• BP’s latest effort to stem the oil spewing from a ruptured well 1 mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico hit a setback when a saw snagged while cutting a riser pipe, officials said Wednesday.

The diamond wire saw being used to cleanly cut off a ruptured riser pipe at the top of a failed blow-out preventer ‘has become stuck’, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters.

‘Anybody that’s ever used a saw knows every once in a while it will bind up. That’s kind of what’s happening here,’ Allen said.

The operation to cut off the leaking riser pipe and then cap it with a replacement unit for the top half of a large valve, known as the blow-out preventer (BOP) stack, is being carried out remotely using underwater robots.
A first cut was successfully made in the leaking pipe overnight, and Allen said he expected the saw would be extracted, or that a new saw would be sent down to the wrecked well head later on Wednesday.

Once the riser pipe has been cut off, a ‘cap’ will be lowered over the top of the well head to contain the oil, which will be siphoned up to a drill ship on the surface through a riser extending from the top of the containment unit.

Every attempt so far to plug the leak has failed, and BP has stressed this latest attempt will not stop the flow of oil but only stem it until two relief wells have been drilled. The drill wells are expected to be finished in August.

At least 40 million gallons of oil are estimated to have gushed into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion that sent the Deepwater Horizon rig sinking to the seabed 56 miles off the Louisiana coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard revealed yesterday that oil from the BP spill had touched barrier islands in both Mississippi and Alabama for the first time.

“Now the threat is shifting to Mississippi and Alabama,” Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed. Meanwhile, officials said a thin sheen of oil had been spotted just nine miles off the beaches of Pensacola, one of the most popular resort towns in the Florida Panhandle.

The movement of the slick towards tourist areas will further fuel anger in the region at BP. It has now embarked on the placement of a “top-hat” dome over the broken well opening. Engineers hope that if it can be placed neatly, about 80 percent of the leaking oil can be funnelled to tankers above.
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