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. Lorelei Shark

    Deep beneath the seafloor, methane is in a slushy, crystalline form. Deep sea oil drillers often encounter pockets of methane crystals as they dig into the earth. This is the same phenomenon that they're saying caused the explosion – why would they not realize this chemical reaction would happen again? Halliburton needs to claim major responsibility and get involved in the solution.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. clr

    Perhaps they think it will work – because it has worked before? The problem was not as complex as it was not as deep where this method was performed before – but it did work. I do not understand why people keep routing for the repairs to fail, or cheer when they do? They have scientists from around the world trying to determine the solution for this fix – I would think all would want it to succeed.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bbill

    yes very sad think of all the damage to beaches animals the enviorment etc and also if it gets caught in the loop current this oil could travel thru key west and up the east coast. this could be both an enviormental and economic disaster unfolding before our eyes.
    hazmat suit sales booths at the beaches anyone ?

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. M. Kelsey

    The answer, unfortunately, doesn't lie at the feet of those with PhDs. This is the kind of problem that requires creativity, imagination, and patience. Those qualities aren't automatically gained alongside the specialized skill sets that such a degree offers. I don't think humans are, by nature, meant to battle barrels and barrels of oil in water. It definitely makes you wonder whether we should be drilling offshore, but for now, let's all have some patience and keep a caring eye on the situation. I am not at all happy with BP, and I don't, for one, support offshore drilling. But frustration and negativity on our parts certainly won't help anyone.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jstmyview

    I'm surprised Corporate American didn't try to put advertising on it before the dropped it!

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nancy

    Congrats on getting this news out so soon. BP originally said their biggest fear was ice formation, no one mentioned these hydrate crystals. Makes you wonder if anyone knows what they're doing. This is the deepest drill ever and you wonder if they are just out of their depth (pun intended). It also looks like the wellhead blew in the first place perhaps because of bad cementing by Halliburton. Halliburton is accused of mishandling the Montara leak off the west coast of Australia, but that was only 250 feet deep, not a mile.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jim wiks

    Americans are too fat. Supersize that Gulf.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RD Harr

    All the arm chair consultants would rather complain then contribute...... But don't seem to mind when they fill the tank.

    TechMan 09 is the only contributor.

    What a bunch of winers.

    Winners train, losers complain!!!

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    Is it any surprise problems were encountered? How many times has this been done before? Learn from the mistakes. Make corrections. Try again. Repeat if necessary.

    I strongly suspect that BP has a lot better idea what to do than poster #2, and that success won't come as a result of posting snarky comments..

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jefro is an ignoramus

    Jefro, that was quite possibly the dumbest thing I ever read...

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JAD

    Has Exxon been asked for their ideas?

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. greg

    If you pay any attention to what they said all along about the probable challenges to deploying this system at 5000 feet given the makeup of the fluids, you would know they did not pretend it would work. You do not think they knew the potential issues? I laugh that people actually think the government is more qualified to deal with an issue like this than the industry experts. I assume you all grab an electrician to fix a plumbing problem at your home?

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. old smart person

    Perhaps it would have been benificial to place the "suction pipe" onto the device prior to lowering it to the well-head; lower the device at the same time while pumping the seawater out until the device seats itself over the "BOP". now its "clogged up"–pull the housing back up; attach the suction pipe and keep the liquid moving while the housing is lowered –it will work!!

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. redlocks

    Can't inject hot air because it would create a bubble chamber in the containment vessel. Although it would be a good way to check for leaks in the structure which I am highly anticipating as this structure was hastily built.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GabbyFox

    Wally P. I'm not Muslim and you sound stuipid. You should remove that post for your own good.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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