After 87 days of unsuccessful attempts to plug the Gulf oil gusher, BP may have finally found a solution. A cap mounted on the Deepwater Horizon site's leaky well earlier this week has stopped all oil from spewing out--for now.
The trickiest part is yet to come, however. BP still has to perform a number of integrity tests to make sure the cap works. From BP's website:
The well integrity test will last at least 6 hours and could last up to 48 hours. During the test, the three ram capping stack is closed, effectively shutting in the well and all sub-sea containment systems (namely, the Q4000 and Helix Producer systems) have been temporarily stopped. Although it cannot be assured, it is expected that no oil will be released to the ocean during the test. Even if no oil is released during the test, this will not be an indication that oil and gas flow from the wellbore has been permanently stopped.
If the test fails, pressure from the cap could spring a new leak in the well. Even if it succeeds, the cap is only a temporary fix until BP finishes drilling a relief well to permanently halt the oil flow. But it's a welcome start, as well as a much-needed reminder that we should still have faith in human ingenuity. And once the process of stopping the gusher is complete, we can focus on the even larger task of cleaning up BP's mess.
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