Planet Gore

Update from the Gulf

This is actually progress as earlier in the day the saw cutting the pipe had gotten stuck. Now, let’s pray the dome idea works:

A new flow of oil emerged from BP’s damaged undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening after a remote-controlled submarine successfully cut into the well’s riser pipe.

BP used robots in its latest attempt to curtail the flow of crude from the largest spill in U.S. history, which spread to barrier islands off Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday.

When the robot submarines cut into the undersea well’s riser pipe, a fresh spew of oil temporarily obscured the view of the mechanical arm. The cut was a first step toward placing a cap over the well that has spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day since late April.

BP expects to make more cuts to the riser before bringing in a diamond saw to make a clean cut where the cap will be fitted. Doug Suttles, the company’s chief operating officer, told CNN’s “John King USA” that the procedure should collect the “vast majority” of the oil if it succeeds.

“We’ll be putting the cap assembly, loading that out and sending it to the sea bed later tonight,” Suttles said. “We should be able to install this tomorrow. And hopefully by late tomorrow or Thursday, we should have this thing operating.”

But the operation carries the risk that the flow of crude from the ruptured well could increase by up to 20 percent once the damaged riser is cut away. The job already has been complicated by pipework around the well that has had to be removed before massive metal shears could be brought to bear Tuesday evening, Suttles said. The gusher may not be shut down until August, when BP expects to complete relief wells that will take the pressure off the one now spewing into the Gulf.

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