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BP replaces oil containment cap

Oil spewed uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for much of the day on Wednesday before engineers reattached a cap being used to contain the gusher and direct some of the crude to a surface ship.

The logistics co-ordinator onboard the Discoverer Enterpriser, the ship that has been siphoning the oil,said that after more than 10 hours, the system was again collecting the crude.

BP later confirmed the cap was back in place. The co-ordinator said it would take a little time for the system to "get ramped back up".

Most recently, the system, which has been in place since June 4, was sucking up about 29,000 gallons (110,000 litres) an hour, crude that spewed back into the Gulf on Wednesday unabated. At that rate, it could mean about 290,000 (1,100,000 litres) extra gallons escaped into the water before the system restarted. Another ship was still collecting a smaller amount of oil and burning it on the surface.

BP engineers removed the cap after the mishap because fluid seemed to be leaking, creating a possible safety hazard because of the flames above, and they were concerned ice-like crystals might clog it.

The latest problem with the nine-week effort to stop the gusher came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration sought to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deep water drilling.

In court papers, the Justice Department said it has asked a judge to delay a court ruling by US District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans that overturned the moratorium. The Interior Department imposed it last month after the disaster, halting approval of any new permits for deep water projects and suspending drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

Bob Dudley, the BP managing director who took over the spill response from his company's embattled CEO on Wednesday, had said earlier that engineers expected to replace the cap in less than a day.

"It's a disruption, and the crew again did exactly the right thing because they were concerned about safety," he said.

"It's a setback, and now we will go back into operation and show how this technology can work."


From Belfast Telegraph