The development was a stunning setback after the oil giant finally seemed to be on track following nearly three months of failed attempts to stop the spill, which has sullied beaches from Florida to Texas and decimated the multibillion dollar fishing industry.
The oil giant and the government said more analysis was needed before testing could proceed on a new temporary well cap — the best hope since April of stopping the geyser. Work on a permanent fix, relief wells that will plug the spill from below with mud and cement, also was halted.
Oil continued to spew nearly unimpeded into the water, with no clear timeline on when it would stop.
“We want to move forward with this as soon as we are ready to do it,” said Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president.
BP had zipped through weekend preparations for getting the 75-ton cap in place and undersea robots locked it smoothly into place Monday atop the well, raising hopes the gusher could be checked for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.