BP Takes a First Step Toward Capping the Leak



To say that BP has been unlucky in its attempts to stem the oil leak in the Gulf would be charitable. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, about the only positive outcome of BP’s several failed attempts to close the partially blown well gushing 5,000 feet below the surface has been a rich addition to the American vocabulary: blowout preventer, top hat, top kill, junk shot, tar mat, boom. And while BP has struggled to end the mess it helped create, at least 20 million gallons of oil, and perhaps far more, have flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP robot sawBut on Thursday morning, the besieged energy giant finally had something to cheer about — at least for now. Technicians operating remote-controlled undersea robots managed to cut a riser pipe over the bleeding wellhead, a successful first step in BP’s latest effort to contain the oil leak. That should allow the company to attempt to place a containment cap over the cut pipe, which would then enable it to siphon off much of the oil directly to tanker ships on the surface. The cut is a “significant step forward,” said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the head of the federal spill response, at a press conference Thursday. “I’m pleased to report that.” Read more

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