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. carl

    oh I got it lets put obama in the dome he can put the nuke in his A** and then when it goes off the nuclear fusion will combine will all the s*** he is full of and it will fuze to the pipes and thus sealing off the leak

    May 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fred t

    @chub I appreciate your civility, thanks.
    we have been facing an energy crisis my whole life. We were warned in the 70s to conserve and find alternate energy resources, and WE chose to ignore those warnings and continue to produce energy consuming products that depend on nat gas/oil. These resources are going to run out,.. period. what then? do we wait until we are caught with our pants down?
    Domestic oil production hasn't met our nation's demand for 30+ years. We are dependent not only on the fuel source, but foreign supply to meet our demands. This is our own fault, everyone of us.
    If you think I am an idiot for wanting an end to NEW offshore drilling, well, maybe I am.
    There is no doubt in my mind that I am an idiot, but I am guilty of being unrealistic by wanting the US to conserve more.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. carl

    Maze1gerald so what is your low cost solution???

    May 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. guuuue

    Comment 151 wouldn't work.

    Obama is against nukes. He'd probably send Biden or Pelosi down instead.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. riley

    Guuuue, The BP rig did not have a sub-sea-floor acoustic cutoff. These devices are relatively expensive to install, on the order of $1M. Ordinary switches on the drill pipe, which allow the rig to disconnect from the pipe without spilling crude, clearly do not help in situations where a rupture originates near the drill pipe base.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Art

    One more thought about Prince William Sound vs. DeepWater/Gulf of Mexico.

    The E/V spill affected 11,000 square miles of ocean. Folks thats about 100×110 miles. They mention 1100 miles of coastline

    Prince William Sound is a postage stamp compared to the Gulf which is approximately 600,000 square miles (yes 1000×600). 50 times larger. And the spill was 50 miles offshore, not a reef within a mile of shore...

    So, so far, a smaller leak, far from shore (that's why, two weeks later only tiny amounts of oil have reached shore).

    Also, if the online articles and numbers are correct, the last two days, They have siphoned off more oil than has leaked in the same time frame. do the math. Skimming normally has 30 to 50% seawater, the rest oil. If the skimming numbers are correct, even if the skimming proved to be 80% water, they would have removed more oil on Thursday and Friday, than the wells leaked over the same period of time.

    The math is there for all to do their own calculations, but the liberal media have to milk this for all it's worth.

    Someone pointed out that BP is being thorough, that the crystalization problem was anticipated, and will be dealt with as best possible. I concur. They don't seem to be dropping missiles (as someone suggested), or some other ideas which might work, but could easily make things far worse.

    It took the US almost a decade after challenger to launch another shuttle. So, how about we cut BP some slack and congratulate them if they have this problem solved in a month or two, before the spill becomes a large disaster.

    When measuring disasters, I suggest you benchmark this spill against Katrina – still 50 times more expensive at least. When next year begins, find out how many people lost their income/jobs (and not gotten them back) how many homes and businesses were destroyed, etc.

    It's certainly possible that this will become a major disaster by world standards, but other than the US hype, it's still a moderate sized leak.

    Remember, the only other US offshore well head leak was the 1969 Santa Barbara spill – that was only 6 miles offshore and was 100,000 barrels – 4+ gallons. That's a total leak that the Deepwater spill won't even reach if they can get the dome to work in the next 3-4 days. But again 6 miles vs. 50. Oh yeah, cleanup technology has advanced a bit since 1969. Remember in 1969 we put a man on the moon, and at the time NASA had less total computing power than your average iPhone has.


    May 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. carl

    hahahahahaha look at this

    do you see how big the blow out preventers are, if a rig fell on it and damaged it I think its safe to say the accousitc cutoff valve would have faired just the same

    May 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mike

    Post 128 – I would say is a rather loose interpretation of the our undersecretaries credentials.

    None the less, glad to see an informed citizen is in the know on Washington politics. And here I feel silly not even knowing we had an undersecretary of science at the department of energy, let alone that he personally is on the job solving the Gulf oil spill situation.

    I guess I should read these blogs chocked full of facts and subscribed by such an array of omnipotents ,more often.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. guuuue

    @ 152

    There is nothing wrong with dreaming about being oil free. But reality says that until we find the magic replacement to oil... then we will continue to be dependent on oil. But that's not going to happen within the 20 years or more. Domestic oil production has not increased because the Dems refuse to open up oil fields. Thats why we continue to give our hard earned money to terrorist who want to blow us up. There is no reason why we can't have the following:

    Provide Safe oil drilling
    Develop a plan for disasters like BP Valdez, etc.
    Expand domestic oil production.
    Invest in clean energy technologies for the future.

    This should make everyone happy. Including the people who need to heat their homes in the winter and feed their families.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Maze1gerald

    It's not all bps fault ,think about that every time you guys go to gas pump.the pot can't call the kettle black.A lot of problems come from wanting to be comfotable while being enteratained.people must get out of this entertainment mindset.we are at a serious crossroad I don.t like what I see if we go the wrong path.that path i don't think anyone would like an ugly can be avoided,also this planet is not a garbage dump.while you are being comfortable and entertained the garbage piles up.think about that.lets see fresh new ideas.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. guuuue

    @ 155.

    I did not say they had "acoustic cutoff". I said they had shutoff valves – not sure what type, but the valves were at the bottom of the ocean. This is a requirement the last I checked. AND BP did try to use the shutoff valves but they were "unsuccessful" and did not work. perhaps because of the damage caused by the rig sinking.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Miravisa

    I guess, finally, it is time to stop using oil....... some how we all have something to do.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steven

    We have been taking oil from the earth for centuries. There isn't just one person to blame for this. It's caused by GREED. The love of money is the root of all evil. Can people really expect to suck things from the center of the earth and totally avoid any type of catastrophe because of it? NO! We have been taking oil, coal, and anything else that we can think of from the center of the earth. We are now reaping the consequences for human greed. Earthquakes have gotten worse, volcanoes will eventually get worse, the effects of global warming will get worse. HUMANS ARE RESPONSIBLE, NOT JUST ONE COMPANY OR PERSON!!!

    May 8, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Manny

    If crystals are getting in the way, call in Lindsay Lohan to snort them up.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. D Broussard

    All you poeple complaining about drilling off shore.... how did you get to work today? You probably drove and burned gas that came from drilling. You are typing on plastic keys that came from drilling. Oh maybe you're one of those tree lovers who walk or only ride bikes. Chances are you don't own a car cause you're too liberal and lazy and can't find work and use the "green" life as your excuse. Come on it was an accident they are doing everything they can imagine at this point. It's not easy!

    May 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
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