Monday, July 19, 2010

Oil cap kept shut despite seepage near broken well


  • read more on news.yahoo.com
    NEW ORLEANS – The federal government Monday allowed BP to keep the cap shut tight on its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite something seeping near the sea floor.
    The Obama administration's point man for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said early Monday that the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil into the water since the experimental cap was closed Thursday.
    Late Sunday, Allen said something was detected seeping near the broken oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor. Allen didn't say what was seeping. White House energy adviser Carol Browner told the CBS "Early Show" seepage was found less than two miles from the well site.
    The concern all along — since pressure readings on the cap weren't as high as expected — was a leak elsewhere in the well bore, meaning the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix. An underground leak could let oil and gas escape uncontrolled through bedrock and mud.

  • read more on news.yahoo.com

  • read more on news.yahoo.com
    If the valves are kept closed, as BP wants, it's possible that no more oil will leak into the Gulf of Mexico. Work on a permanent plug is moving steadily, with crews drilling into the side of the ruptured well from deep underground. By next week, they could start blasting in mud and cement to block off the well for good.
    But the government is worried that the cap on the well is causing oil and gas to leak out elsewhere, which could make the sea floor unstable and cause the well to collapse. That's why federal officials want to pump the crude to ships on the surface. That would require opening the well for a few days to relieve pressure before the pipes could be hooked up, letting millions more gallons of oil spill out in the interim.
    It will take months, or possibly years for the Gulf to recover, though cleanup efforts continued and improvements in the water could be seen in the days since the oil stopped flowing. Somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons have spilled into the Gulf since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and touching off one of America's worst environment crises.

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