Last night BP successfully installed its new cap design on the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. So far things look good. Later on today the engineers will begin slowly closing off valves and testing the cap’s pressure.
“It is expected, though cannot be assured, that no oil will be released to the ocean for the duration of the test”, said a BP spokesman. This will not however, be an indication that flow from the well has been stopped.
This is a containment cap and not a complete close of the leaking well, but it is a step in the right direction. Not until the relief wells are completed and the leaking well is packed closed with mud and cement will the leak be completely contained. The relief well is expected to reach the blown-out well in late August or early September.
The valve closure tests will begin today and are expected to take between 6-48 hours to test. Whereas the last cap managed to contain only one half of the gushing oil, if this second cap works, BP will be able to siphon the entire flow to the surface for collection.
Former US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the commander of the US Government’s response to the spill said the valve testing today will 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.
BP reported the current cost associated with clean up efforts to the damaged shoreline has now reached 2.33 billion pounds or 3.5 billion US dollars.