BP to use domes to contain oil spill

May 5, 2010 7:22:11 PM PDT
Images taken in space show the massive gulf oil spill has made it to the Mississippi delta and islands off the Louisiana coast. Now, there are images recorded a mile below the surface of the sea, right where the spill leaks from the sea floor.

BP on Wednesday admitted there may be as much as 60,000 barrels a day pouring out of the well. That's 10 times what was estimated.

The company also is shipping the first of two massive containment domes designed to cover the leak and pump out the oil. BP says a combination of the domes, underwater robots and a relief well is the best shot at fixing the massive leak.

For the first time, we got to see one of the three oil leaks a mile under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

"We put a valve on one of the leaks," BP CEO Tony Hayward said. "It's closed."

BP today used remote controlled robots to cap this leak. The robot sawed through a pipe before attaching a valve to cut off the flow of oil. About 200,000 gallons of raw crude a day spilled out of this leak and two others before BP capped this single leak.

The head of BP said this capping will not have any major effect on stopping the spill.

"It's unlikely to significantly reduce the flow, but it's progress in reducing the complexity on the sea bed, and we continue to make progress on other interventions," Hayward said.

BP oversaw the capping at its crisis center in west Houston. The company gave ABC News a tour and showed off its mission control-type set up.

BP has a thousand people working on the oil spill, and 400 of them in Houston alone. They come from the departments of defense and energy and about 200 other organizations around the world.

"We've got some of the best brains on the planet actually trying to deal with the issue of containing the leak," Hayward said.

While the capping of one leak did not stop the spill it means BP will only need to use one underwater dome to cover the other two leaks instead of two.

In a couple of weeks, BP plans to try to stop the spill using a method called "top killing," which involves pumping heavy fluids into the well. This method has never been used so deep underwater.

Also, we now know that BP has stopped using underwater chemical dispersants to help break up oil escaping from the drill site-while the company confirms there are no negative environmental impacts.

The use of dispersants from aircraft will continue.

And on Wednesday afternoon, calm winds in the Gulf have allowed crews to burn off some of the oil that is in the water.

The leading edge of the oil spill, a rainbow sheen, is close to the coastline. Heavier, even more troublesome concentrations are father offshore.


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