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Containment Cap  (Source: CNN)
Two-day testing will reveal if it is effective or not

After nearly three months of trying to contain the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico with containment caps/domesrobotic submarines, the "top kill" effort, and tools to transport oil up to ships like the riser insertion tube tool (RITT), which have all failed to completely stop the leak, BP is now placing a new cap over the well in hopes of finally containing the oil for good.

The new 18-foot, 150,000-pound cap was placed over the well with robotic arms on Monday and tests are being run to determine if this is the right procedure for the job. So far, oil is still flowing from the upper section of the new cap, but BP said they expected this to happen until the company begins "well integrity tests" today. BP noted that they don't expect any oil to be released during the test, but that this doesn't indicate that the flow of oil has been stopped permanently. 

The test is expected to take anywhere from six hours to two days, but it's possible for the tests to be extended even further. The data gathered during the tests will be shared and reviewed with "relevant government agencies." According to retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, scientists will be checking the pressure inside the well and will then determine if the cap is containing the oil or if they will need to continue siphoning oil to ships at the surface. 

Allen hopes that the new containment cap can close down the valves and hold all of the oil, but BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles mentioned that it's important to first make sure there is no hydrate buildup. A huge problem in the process of placing the new cap is the possibility of new damage to the blowout preventer. 

The new containment cap has brought some new features to the table, such as allowing four collection ships instead of three (which is what the old cap allowed) to siphon oil, if oil collection is still needed after today's tests. According to BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells, 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil could be collected a day over the next two to three weeks if oil collection is still part of the containment process, thanks to the addition of an extra collection ship. Recently, Helix Producer ship was placed with the Q4000 collection ship and together, they are expected to gather up to 33,000 barrels of oil per day. 

In addition to new containment caps and more collection ships, a new moratorium order issued by the U.S. Interior Department is doing its part in preventing any more disasters like this from happening. 

The new moratorium is to "protect communities, coasts and wildlife" by making oil companies establish safety measures in order to reduce the risks of oil spills and blowouts in the future while deepwater drilling. This is the U.S. Interior Department's second effort to diminish deepwater oil and natural gas projects.

A previous ban after the Gulf oil spill was thrown out by a federal judge, but after a federal appeals panel "rejected the government's request to overturn the lower court judge's decision," the U.S. Interior Department issued a new order that supersedes the previous one. 

This new ban would be in effect until November 30, 2010 or until deepwater drilling operations are deemed safe by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Such a ban would insure that deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would be suspended until the oil leak is resolved and officials can figure out what went wrong April 20 and what to do to prevent it in the future.

"More than eighty days into the BP oil spill, a pause on deepwater drilling is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts and wildlife from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose," said Salazar. "I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill and to operate safely.

"I remain open to modifying the new deepwater drilling suspensions based on new information."



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RE: All that oil...
By clovell on 7/14/2010 2:00:19 PM , Rating: 3
...and somewhere in-between lies the truth. Too bad America hates a moderate...


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