BREAKING: Gulf Oil Spill May Have Stopped (UPDATED: It Still Flows)
UPDATE: It still flows. See below.
This news still needs to be confirmed, but it is being reported by PBS' News Hour that the new containment cap may have worked and the flow of oil info the Gulf of Mexico has been successfully stopped.The following message was posted to the PBS News Hour Twitter feed (@NewsHour):
A follow-up tweet by @NewsHour stated this would be unconfirmed until Tuesday morning.
Details of the new containment cap will be confirmed in the morning. The new containment cap has been placed & will be pressure tested.
Below is live video of the source of the oil flow.
We will update this post as this story develops.
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Update: 8:39pm EST: It Still Flows
Looking at the video stream now (upper right in the NewsHour grid above), it appears to still show some oil flowing into the gulf. While we would like to believe that this flow has been completely stopped, it appears as if that is not the case. Hopefully we're getting closer.
UPDATE 9:05pm EST: What We Know
While the reports of an end to the oil flow were an exaggeration, we can report that the new containment cap, also known as the Top Hat 10, has been successfully placed on the well.
CNN reports that the new cap has been lowered onto the well and tests will be performed to check the pressure inside the well and if oil is continuing to leak. Reports CNN,
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the man in charge of the federal response, said Monday scientists will be checking the pressure inside the well, and then determining whether the cap is holding the oil in or if crews will need to continue siphoning oil.
A critical step is making sure there's no hydrate buildup, according to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.
In the best-case scenario, the containment cap would have the ability to close down the valves and slowly contain all the oil, Allen said.
But if oil collection were still necessary, over the next two to three weeks, 60,000 to 80,000 barrels (2.52 million to 3.36 million gallons) a day could be collected as part of the containment process, according to BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells. That's because the new containment cap would eventually allow four collection ships to access the well, rather than the maximum of three allowed by the old cap, Allen said earlier.
While robots worked to replace the old cap, crude oil continued to leak out. Scientists estimate that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil have spewed daily from BP's breached well.
UPDATE: 9:31pm - BP release on containment cap and ongoing tests
This release from BP explains the tests that will be performed on the well now that the new containment cap has been attached.
For the duration of the test, which will be a minimum of 6 hours and could extend up to 48 hours, the three ram capping stack will be closed and all sub-sea containment systems (namely, the Q4000 and Helix Producer) will be temporarily suspended, effectively shutting in the well. It is expected, although cannot be assured, that no oil will be released to the ocean for the duration of the test. This will not however be an indication that flow from the wellbore has been permanently stopped.
Information gathered during the test will be reviewed with the relevant government agencies including the federal science team to determine the way forward. Options include reinstatement of containment as well as extending the test duration beyond 48 hours.
The sealing cap system never before has been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured.
The Helix Producer containment system started operations on July 12. The Q4000 containment system continues to capture oil and gas from the MC252 well and flare the hydrocarbons safely at the surface
The Deepwater Horizon Response site also has an update:
BP Makes Progress on "Capping Stack" Procedure; 'Well Integrity Test' to Begin
After approval by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, BP made significant progress on its "capping stack" procedure--designed to capture even greater quantities of oil than the current "top hat" system. As a result of that progress, BP will perform a 'Well Integrity Test' tomorrow morning. This test involves closing one or more of the valves on the new cap for a period of time to allow BP to measure pressures in the well.
It also requires that the Helix Producer--which has been connected--and Q4000 collection systems be ramped down and placed in standby mode during the test. The measurements that will be taken during this test will provide valuable information about the condition of the well below the sea level and help determine whether or not it is possible to shut the well for a period of time, such as during a hurricane or bad weather, between now and when the relief wells are complete.
Admiral Allen has reviewed the protocols for this test, in consultation with the government science team. It will likely last anywhere from six to 48 hours or more depending on the measurements that are observed. BP will be in regular contact with the government during the test, and the government will halt the test if the risks of doing further damage to the surrounding formation are significant. Once the test has concluded, collection of the oil will resume.
We still have a day or two before we'll know if this latest effort will finally be enough to put an end to the oil flow. We hope it will be.