May 8th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

Effort to place dome over oil well dealt setback, BP says

[Update 3:58 p.m.] Read the full story

[Posted 3:33 p.m.] The effort to place a containment dome over a gushing wellhead was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates - crystals formed when gas combines with water - accumulated inside of the vessel, BP's chief operating officer said Saturday.

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, Doug Settles said.

Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water, and as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled to a drill ship.

"What we had to do was pick the dome back up, set it over to the side while we evaluate what options we have to actually try to prevent the hydrate formation or find some other method to try to capture the flow," Suttles said.

He said two options officials are looking at are heating the dome or adding ethanol to dissolve the hydrates.

soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Jon Evans

    I love also how someone pointed out " oh i love these great ideas to fixing the problem!":

    No one here has any logical idea of how to "fix" the problem. if you actually did you would be sending the gov't emails and actually devloping these safe guards.

    Spare us with your nonsense, you know nothing. You just want to be heard on the internet and only make yourself look dumber.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. socalusa

    Problem is "BUOYANCY". The 100 ton structure floats like a life jacket, if buoyant. It won't stay on the sea floor.

    "Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water, and as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled to a drill ship."

    a little clip of the article.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Billy Nguyen

    I cannot understand after so many years of oil drillings and so many disasters that we have had historically and sadly, to find out company as big as BP does not have a rudimentary safety feature of shutting off the oil when needed, automatically. Should this be the first thing on their list before they start drilling? Technically, automatic shut off valve is an easy thing to do, i.e. your gas pump, therefore the blame is obvious, it is not an engineering problem, it is a strategically and tactically shortsighted and plain out stupidity of BP management. The penalty must be an extremely deep pocket stiff fine so they learn their mistake and make sure it will not happen again ever.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. guuuue

    135 is an idiot.

    Stop drilling? How about having a disaster plan in place, so this could have been avoided. There is no reason why this shouldn't have been capped within 36 hours... IFFFF the Feds had a plan in place.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jon Evans

    @fred t here are some reasons why you have no idea what you are talking about and should think before you speak.

    "They are doing whatever they can NOT to fix the problem?"

    do you think before you speak or type? What would they gain by spending billions of dollars to NOT fix the problem? lol.. to spend more? hurt the environment? jesus, THINK before you SPEAK. They have nothing to gain.

    I am better than others commenting, I actually rpovide an open minded response to everything along with a factual basis for each claim. i don't spew out illogical information or attempt to know more than I do. Now if you want to talk about the human psyche since I do have a degree in biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience sure i can do that.. (that does include analysing peoples mindsets and reasons to post here if you want to go there) and im also an intel analyst. thanks

    Sure your official post is to stop offshore drilling RIGHT NOW. ok, we will do that the MOMENT you turn off your computer.. all powered appliances... and turn your car in.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Christina Latta

    I didn't think it was possible for our economy to get any worse but BP has literally destroyed us. These idiots will never be able to fix this and oil will continue to flood into our oceans and our seafood market will be non-existent, our beaches uninhabitable, our wildlife and humanity are in the red zone.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blake waiting for the conspiracy theorist to chime in

    I just asked my petroleum engineered magic 8 ball if this oil spill will be the result in a massive hurricane outbreak this season, and it says 'all signs point to yes' OHH NOOS, good thing i have a gas powered engine, so i can drive further inland RIP tree-huggers, I don't pick up hitchhikers, better grab a old school natural wooden surfboard

    May 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fred t

    Jon Evans. you sir are a knowitall, please tell me more!

    ..and yes, I am an idiot, thank you. 🙂 now back to guitar hero

    May 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chub

    @fred t you are curious as to what BP's motivation is for dome. Is it to cap the oil well, or is the dome intended to save the well?

    Ultimately they would want to cap this well, but that process will take a few months at least unless the BOP suddendly decide to activate and shuts off flow. The purpose of the dome appears to be to control the release of crude oil so that it doesn't continue to fill up the Gulf. So far it appears the region has been pretty lucky that only a small amount of crude oil have reached the shoreline.

    Not saying, just saying.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. riley

    In response to Billy Nguyen question about the lack of rudimentary safety features for shutting off the oil, in the case of casing failure, etc.

    Acoustic shutoff valves have been mandatory in Norway since 1993 and in Brazil since 2007 (following a similar problem off-shore there). Interior Department regulators asked in 2000 that similar steps be considered in the US. In 2003 the Bush administration decided not to pursue studies of this option, on the grounds that device reliability had not been demonstrated and that the devices could trigger inadvertently, interrupting the oil flow.

    Norway has had nearly two decades of satisfactory performance as the major producer of North Sea crude.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. carl

    To all the "arm charir phd's

    5,000 bbls a day is nothing it would take 2 months for this well to produce that much oil. Most of this oil will never even make it to shore. And Have any of you been to louisiana? The "shore" is pretty much the arm pit of america its full of oil rigs and oil tankers this is not prince william sound people...this is no prisene coasline...

    The rig waas in US waters and it was inspected by several international and US regulatory bodies

    The rig had 2 safety devices to REDUCE the risk of a spill. However when an oil rig lands on top of the piping and valves all bets are off, no matter how safe you are there will always we the possibility of an accident (ex. Challenger, apollo 13, obama)

    Obama is not the answer

    how do you intend on getting hot air down a pipe which is a mile long surrounded by COLD water? Not to mention the fact that you would need to pump it at 2300 PSI. You cant just go to home depot and buy a mile worth of insulated pipe. (of course the insulation would also need to withstand the 2300 psi of water pressure)

    Oh lets nuke it what a great idea!!! instead of a small leak we will have a huge leak, oh I forgot the heat of the blast will melt the broken pipes and fuse them together! Genious! Ok so I ask how do u plan on even getting a nuke down to 5.000 feet? Maybe a giant pelican case!!

    It took the navy years to devolop the technolgy to tap phone wires at debths of less then 1000 feet, developing the technology to do something way more complicated at 5 times the depth is not going to happen overnight.

    The cost of a barrel of oil is about 100$ the cost to recover a barrel of oil from the gulf of mexico costs alot more then 100$ so all the BP conspiracy theories are just rediculous.

    Oh I've got it lets stop drilling for oil!!!! Great idea.....This whole blog is very entertaining people wake up, think before you blurt out rediculous statements, you have no idea what your talking about. They are trying to fix it, thats the best anyone can do

    May 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jon Evans

    i am a know it all, i defined my life on learning. hrm Anyway, i do know how to have an open mind and not make insane direct statements that don't make sense.

    @142 Blake. hahaha ONE just showed up! look at post #126 it's hilarious if you actually think rationally about it.

    People don't understand they lose all credibility and respect when they say something along the lines of "bp is doing nothing!" or " BP IS PURPOSLY NOT DOING ANYTHING TO MAKE MONEY! THATS ALL THEY WANT MONEY!" Did any of you ever watch that southpark episode named "Die, Hippie, Die" Where all these arm chair know it alls go around saying corp this! big moeny that! yada... but actually have no idea what they are talking about... good watch,

    May 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. guuuue

    All new rigs like the BP rig that went down do have shutoff valves. Unfortunately, the valves for the BP did not work for whatever reason. Perhaps they were damaged when the rig went down or they were faulty... not sure. We'll need to wait until the investigation is completed.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon Evans

    Carl . thankyou. =)

    May 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maze1gerald

    I suggested that idea to bp about that dome i knew that it would be a freezing problem,I already worked out a simple low cost solution , I wouldn't be too harsh on ideas, we learn by trial and error.that's how we advance.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
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