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 CNN.com 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. gl

    Matt Simmons is the retired chairman of the energy investment banking firm Simmons & Co. International, and a veteran of 41 years in the industr. He sees a disaster on an epic scale as the pressurized subterranean reservoir known as the Macondo field, estimated to hold 50 million barrels of oil, continues to vent into the gulf.

    "It really is a catastrophe," Simmons said. "I don't think they're going to be able to put the leak out until the reservoir depletes. It's just too technically challenging."

    I think that privately, BP knows this. All 50 million barrels (1 barrel = 42 gallons) that's over 2 BILLION gallons is all going into the gulf.

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

    How about a much wider flexible plastic or heavy fabric tubing connected to the top of the containment that will take the oil up in a controlled fashio to about half mile depth, then connect to standard pipe for rest of "journey" up to the surface

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve from Maui

    I have to wonder where the media was all these years, when the oil company
    creeps where saying:We have a failsafe system, don't worry there won't be any oil disasters. It seems that a lot of people knew that the blow out values weren't reliable. So, how does this all go unreported?? How corrupt is our government?
    They don't check on any of this? I guess the people over at mineral/masterbaters department, don't know how to pick up the phone and make an anoymous call to one of the networks?

    And of course,only BP will take all the blame. Not to mention that Obama wanted to drill more wells. Like hundreds of them. But now, he changed his mind? He's such a enviromental kind of president. Who thought the sob would push for more off-shore oil drilling, not to mention Nuclear plants. May the right kick his ass, and the left walk away.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paul S.

    Question do they run back ground checks on the oil platform workers. Also how many shut off valves were there, and were there redundant systems for these valves.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mac

    Why have we not stepped in with our Navy and used some sort of shaped charge to collapse a few tons of rock upon itself to seal this thing? Bc BP wants every opportunity to continue getting the oil out of this well no matter what the cost to the environment or our coastal communities!!

    May 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. overtaxed citizen

    It is reassuring to me they are trying all they can. The built the containment vessel quickly. The leak is very deep and they will get it under control. Nature has a way of cleaning itself. One accident and windmills are the answer. Take a breath, this to will pass.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matthew

    Hydrocarbon crystals are most likely methane... the same gas that caused the explosion in the first place. This is a pretty bad problem, we wouldn't want the 40 foot dome to explode... So, people, they said there would be setbacks. There will be, and this is one of them. I'm sure this was completely unexpected but will be dealt with in an efficient manner. Let's give the PHDs a chance to solve this small problem...

    May 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Manny

    Rush Limbaugh says that this is natural and that the ocean will self cleanse. Rush Limbaugh used Prince William Sound (Exxon Valdez) as an example, calling it "pristine".

    May 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BLT

    No matter what the outcome most of the comments seem to be negitive. People sit home in the cheap seats and think they can do better. It is all too common with nearly every news story to be met with negativity by the majority of following comments. Myself, I appreciate the effort being made and wish them well!

    May 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Funtus

    This summers looking great. The Great Flood of 2010 takes out my city and the largest oil spill ever may take out my favorite beach. Whats Next?

    May 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Benjamin

    I sure hope that they work on a full time solution while they struggle with this "there, i fixed it" temporary reduction in resource loss and environment desctruction.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    I wonder how many of the people complaining on here drive cars, or even worse, SUVs? How many have 5-10 lights on in their house right now for only one person? How many leave their air conditioning on when they're not at home? How many of them will pay extra for locally-grown fruits? Folks, this isn't BP's fault, it's YOUR fault, because you keep using the oil they produce. Get your heads out of your butts!

    May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Martin

    This seems to be a real complex problem. I wonder why it wasn't anticipated. Do these engineers not know enough about the environment they are faceing? And if so, how could they ever write up a safety evalutation (for the government) to get the lease and be allowed to drill so deep? However, if they wrote total garbage with a few nice buzzwords, would the regulators have been able to spot it? Are _they_ engineers and scientists? Or are they people like Michael "Heck-of-a-job-Brownie" Brown who have gotten there using connections? And to those who blame President Obama or Ken Salazar: do you really want EVERYBODY in government to be fired when a new adminstration moves in? Transition in the White House is bad enough i guess...

    May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OKIE

    What a bunch of loser sidewalk engineers are writing in. You turkeys have no idea what you are talking about bur cannot resist the opportunity to criticize those who are at least working to resolve the problem!! If you are so smart, prove it!!!

    May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. artwriter

    Why not detonate a bomb and close off the 3 pipes. My state senator served in
    Iraq and they stopped Saddam's oil flowing during his deliberate spill into the gulf by bombing the manifold valve.
    Good depth charge MIGHT implode the pipes and cover with TONS of rock and mud. Or SMALL tactical u242 weapon.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
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