BP’s Latest Attempt to Slow Down the Oil Spill: A Containment Dome…Again

BP Top Kill

Another day, another piece of news about how BP plans to heroically stop the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This time around, the oil company is cutting and capping the leaking well head with an overhead containment dome. Underwater robots can be seen in the live spill cam (below) sawing off the well’s broken riser pipe.

For those who haven’t followed the increasingly harrowing drama of the spill, BP’s last attempt at using a containment dome failed when crystals formed inside, making it useless. But this time around is supposedly different. BP hopes to evade the crystal-forming problem by pumping warm sea water injected with methanol down the side of the pipe.

If all goes well–and for what it’s worth, BP does think this method is more promising than last week’s “top kill”–captured oil will be piped to ships on the ocean’s surface. But even if it works, the dome won’t contain all the oil (just the majority). And if it fails, the new cut on the riser pipe could lead to 20% more oil flowing out of the well head.

In any case, BP won’t be going anywhere for a while, as evidenced by the floating hotels the company set up for over 500 workers assigned to clean the spill. Stay tuned–we’ll have the latest from Obama’s meeting with the BP Oil Spill Commission Co-Chairs later this afternoon.



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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by e-mail.AS