Oil leak at least temporarily stopped

by Ben Hoffman

This is great news:

BP says it has finally halted the geyser of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

After two days of delay, BP on Thursday started a critical test of a new fitting that at least temporarily has stopped the leak. The company announced that the well had been fully “shut in” at 3:25 p.m. — meaning no oil was leaking from a blown-out well that has spewed nearly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf over three months.

BP Vice President Kent Wells cautioned that this was only the begining of a test intended to assess whether its damaged well was strong enough to withstand the increased pressures created by 75-ton piece of plumbing designed to either siphon most of the crude to ships or even — potentially — shut off the flow altogether.

The tests, which were expected to last six to 48 hours, began after the company was forced to halt an earlier effort late Wednesday night to fix a leaky valve. A seeping seal on the “choke line” was discovered as BP was closing the last of three valves on a massive new “stacking cap” the company has placed on the raging well.

“We had just started to crank it down when we saw the leak,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, commander of the federal response, said during a Thursday news conference.

The company, federal officials and drilling experts believe the new fitting offers the first realistic shot at dramatically reducing or even ending the flow of oil into the Gulf.

On Wednesday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a team of federal and industry experts — in what Allen termed an “overabundance of caution” — ordered a halt to the testing until BP provided more analysis and safeguards to address concerns that raising pressure in the well also raised the nightmare risk of an underground rupture.

Read more…

Finally, something worked.

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3 Comments to “Oil leak at least temporarily stopped”

  1. I give it a week at most. There’s plenty of evidence – disregarded by BP and the Feds – that the original blow-out cracked the sea bed and that there are many other, smaller leaks in surrounding couple of square miles of sea floor.

    With the cap working the pressure on those cracks will greatly increase and more oil will be spewing out all over the region.

    • [There’s plenty of evidence – disregarded by BP and the Feds – that the original blow-out cracked the sea bed]

      I think you meant it could have cracked the pipe below the sea bed, but you’re right… if it causes the pipe to explode, we’ll have an even bigger leak.

      • Not exactly – some of both Russian and American scientists think that the original blow-out had a wider sphere of damage than is being openly reported. They have evidence to support that oil is welling up from the sea floor around the area, not just from the pipe end.

        If they’re right, then the cap will just add more pressure and cause more oil to leak from those other points.

        Their position is supported, but not proven, by BP’s and the feds’ repeated statements that only the let-off wells will permanently fix this.

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