03
Jun
10

BP maneuvers cap toward pipe’s jagged top

NEWS
BP maneuvers cap toward pipe’s jagged top

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Earth

••• BP has successfully cut an underwater well pipe using hydraulic shears and will now work to place a containment cap over the leak, the senior U.S. official overseeing the response says.

‘For the first time in a couple of days I have some good news for you – we just cut the riser pipe off the lower marine package,’ Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters on Thursday, calling the operation ‘a significant step forward’.

So far, BP has met failure at every turn in its attempts to stem the flow of oil from the spewing well 1600 metres down in the Gulf.

About 20 million gallons of crude have gushed into the sea since April, after an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers and sending the platform sinking to the sea floor.

Shears were used to cut off the pipe at the top of the blow-out preventer stack after an attempt to saw off the riser with a precision diamond saw failed on Wednesday when the saw got stuck in the pipe.

‘We don’t have as clean a cut but we do have a cut now… The challenge now is to seat that containment cap over it,’ Allen said.
Once the containment cap is set and sealed, oil will be sucked up a riser pipe from the unit to a drillship on the surface.

Because the cut is irregular, a ‘very, very solid seal’ will be placed around the containment cap to reduce the amount of oil that could leak out of the device once it is set up, Allen said.

‘This is an irregular cut, so it will be a little more challenging to get the seal all around,’ said Allen.

The flow of oil from the pipe was expected to increase between the time the pipe was cut and the cap is placed over the leaking well head, but Allen had no immediate information on whether the flow had increased.

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