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. Steve the Engineer

    One solution is to build a chalmber encompising the leaking area and pressurize the chalmber until it is higher than the wellhead pressure and the leak stops. At these depths, it is going to take considerable pressure – i.e. a very thick walled chalmber. Of course, without knowing the size and number of ruptured areas, it is easy to make this kind of recommendation. BP has some talented fellows; they will craft a solution.

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

    rush limbaugh
    says leave it alone the ocean will take care of it and that prince william sound in alaska is now pristeen condition what a lard cake he is

    May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. We all use oil Therefore we are all part of the problem

    I have to laugh at the people complaining and calling BP the evil oil company when we all use oil. I think the idea they have is pretty sound. A minor set back it will get fixed. If you plan to complain then stop using oil. We have a challenge and BP will set new technology for the rest of the industry.
    Keep at it BP. 🙂

    May 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dean

    1. The crystals are semi-solid. they have filled the box so no oil will go into it. They might have to re-hoist it back to the surface to clean it out, then re-lower it.

    2. Yes, pumping hot water into it while lowering is a valid idea.

    3. The oil company is doing the damage control because almost no one has the proper equipment. None has been developed for this. It has never happened to this extent before.

    4. All our government can do is to have "observers" at the site and talking heads at the meetings.

    5. Everyone had better brace yourselves. We are in for the worst Bio hazard of the last 1,000 years. In some ways it is going to be worse than Cherynoble.

    6. If you think the economic crisis is bad now, just wait. Get out your checkbooks. You know who is going to pay for it............

    May 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tom Bennett

    This company is over. Turn the company and all its holdings over to the government and see if the Obama Administration can take care of the problem . BP does not know what they are doing and are only wanting to make money for themselves. Their actions with their workers and gulf area speak louder than their words.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Glenn

    The crystals are explosive if heated to a gas. Worst they will become bouyant. From news reports today the origional cause of the explosion was a methane gas bubble that rose from the well and as it expanded blwe out seals and perhaps the riser itself. A small metahne crystal one down would expand to a huge volume by the time it reached the surface.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BR

    Such negative comments; I'd have thougth more folks would be rooting for success. I often wonder how many folks casting stones hold "bad corporate citizen" stock in their retirement portofolio mutual funds.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul W

    Well at least they are trying to fix the problem...maybe now they have learned that the shut off valve needs to be tested daily.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GR Bill

    It sickens me to to see this disaster worsen each day. The environment is so damaged that it won't recover for several decades.
    BP is a large corporation with many financial and intellectual resources. It's gross negligence that these resources were not used by BP to forecast this type of disaster and have ready an action plan to immediately respond to this deep water oil leak. With all the brains, technology and money available, the only solution BP could muster is to place something heavy over the leaking well? Why?
    Are the other owners/corporations of off shore drilling prepared ?

    May 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    This whole project is just a political exercise by BP to show people they are doing something. I don't think any scientist on their staff expects this thing to work.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bbill

    lard cakes and caribou barbie says drill baby drill

    May 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Please refer to this Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_clathrate

    May 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    I say lets ruin our environment now, once te humans are extinct the earth will be a great place in 10,000 years. Earth restored and in balance again. NICEEEEE

    May 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon Evans

    I'm surprised half these goofballs on this forum haven't said "THIS WAS A GO'T COVERUP AND ITS SO WE RUN OUT OF OIL AND HAVE TO ATTACK __insert middleeastern coutnry here___ "

    Do you people really ever think before you type? haha

    May 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Colin Brown

    Speaking as a former energy guy who addressed risk:

    . Being outside the US limits meant that risk plans weren't filed with DHS as on-country companies do.

    . Being outside US limits meant that no US inspectors were allowed on-site.

    . A failure to have a risk plan for this means that they will experiment for many months

    . If they don't fix it there is a danger to photosynthetic life in the world's connected oceans – everywhere.

    . Killing the photosynthetic life in the oceans means shutting off the oxygen for the planet. This is bad.

    . The lifting pressure of the pipe's escape materials is 56,000 tons I hear. This means there are no known solutions.

    . We need to act quickly and dynamically. FAE explosives won't work without air, only a small battlefield scale nuclear weapon will be able to stop this and seal the pipe by melting the deep rock. We need to do this very quickly.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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