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. Nancy

    Re Crystals

    Are these crystals forming because of the extreme depth (pressure) or the cold? I am trying to figure out why they couldn't foresee this problem and if so why they didn't 1) find a work around or 2) just abandon the project. Did they construct this cap just to show they are "doing something?"

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

    We're screwed.

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

    Why am I not surprised that the all knowing group, in this case BP, that was not smart enough to have a pressure release cutoff valve properly functioning has managed to have a problem fixing the problem that they cased in the first place. Sounds like the blind leading the blind to me...perhaps I am wrong but with the resources that BP has I am somewhat skeptical of yet another setback. My question is how does this give BP interesting information about the long term function of their robotics at say 4,000 feet of water? Buildup of hydrates like methane hydrates that are seen all over the world at this depth of water can be expected and I doubt that BP over looked this fact. All I want to know is what information does this delay furnish to the engineers at BP because you know that it must be worth more than the cost of the damage control that will need to be undertaken in the wake of this "incident".

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

    Hmmm... with Obama pointing the fingers at the Oil companies... where is Obamas plan for addressing this disaster? It appears to me that Obama has no plan, and is content on pointing fingers at everyone else but himself... like he always does. Takes the credit for good news and never takes responsibility for bad news. I was expecting that the Feds would have a fully tested plan in the event of such a disaster. And we want the Feds to take on Health Care, social security, medicare, medicaid etc? I'm wondering if there is anything that the Feds can do correctly?

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

    i agree 100% with jim wiks! i was looking for the answer to that question. thank you! and yes my friend, they are all i think about.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 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 u232 weapon.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sean dizzle

    jim wiks is comment 41 for those interested

    May 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. overtaxed citizen

    May 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe the Plumber


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

    What will happen when this gusher of oil spilling into the sea gets picked up by the Gulf Stream? The Gulf Stream is an integral part of the "Atlantic Conveyor" current system which eventually reaches the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

    If one quart of oil can make 250,000 gallons of sea water toxic to marine life, what effect will all of this oil have? Are we looking at killing the oceans of the world? How long can humans survive after the oceans become toxic?

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

    I agree with the few voices I see here that are saying "let the engineers do what they can" There will be plenty of time to try more assine and ill conceived ideas using explosives in the presence of volitle frozen hydrates and plenty of oil under pressure.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. guuuue

    >>> Being outside the US limits ...

    Where have you been, this rig went down 50 miles off the US coast.. So your argument is base less.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David in Chicago

    Are you telling me this came as a surprise? How on this not-as-green-as-it-used-to-be Earth was this not anticipated, known or already evaluated. They really did bet the whole farm on pretending it wouldn't happen, didn't they?

    Too bad its our farm they were were pretending with, eh?

    With all the scientists, geologists and maritime experts that BP and the other oil companies have floating around, they're trying to get us to believe they had no clue these hydrate crystals would be a factor.

    Its time for an industry SWAT team...Navy SEALS...the whole kitchen sink to get on this and yesterday. Who cares who they work for. The siren is blaring. Joe Patroni where are you when we need you?

    May 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon W

    Yeah... the bottom line is, oil as an energy source is dirty, costly, dangerous, causes wars, and probably on it's way out in the next century. But this spill may be a blessing in disguise. This accident is so big that it 'might' be a wake up call. The wars are too far away and have dragged on so much that people have become numb to them. The oil spill is right here at home. It will be decades before the gulf can recover. This spill will hit the SW economy HARD. We need a different energy source. A clean energy source. Now is the time. This may be the big turning point. I hope. But first let's hope this silo they're working on can do the job.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bbill

    neutron bomb boom its all done

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