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. sendi

    do you guys drive using gas ? than you NEED to pull out oil from somewhere , no ?
    this is very unfortunate that pipe broke, I don't think it was intentional. I could have happened to any company (may be your favorite ), this is kind of a natural disaster and human can't control it that easy.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guuuue

    They can't use flexible hose or faberic... the pressure at 5000 feet is too great and the oil would never flow.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Louis

    JORMA - finally, someone makes sense!

    I agree that the paradigm needs to shift from using a super-strong containment vessel to trap and hold under high pressure, to flexible material to "steer" it in a funnelled manner

    May 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kevin K

    We need to remember What happened during the Exxon Valdez spill. Here are just a few.
    Exxon was criticized for refusing to acknowledge the extent of the problem, which was due, in part, to the advice of the company's legal counsel. The clean up efforts were handicapped due to a lack in readiness for a disaster of this type. Oil, worth millions of dollars, flowing out of the Exxon Valdez would ironically cost Exxon about $1.28 billion dollars to clean up. Each Sea Otter saved would cost Exxon forty thousand dollars after feeding them lobster and crayfish that was flown in every day. The boats used in the cleanup were chartered for as much as eight thousand dollars a day. Fishermen were given seventy-five million dollars to make up for lost fishing revenues. Exxon provided villages along shorelines with food because hunting and fishing had been interrupted. The cost of this cleanup was equivalent to one fifth of Exxon's revenue for the year. And that was at prices from 20 years ago. Is it any wonder that the original leak estimates were inacurate? I only hope they can work the bugs out of the containment vessel.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. guuuue

    The Feds should have had a plan already in place and fully tested..

    May 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul Bernucci

    Can't all you people see what BP is really trying to do!! Instead of fixing the problem by covering all three leaks with domes of concrete . They continue to seek profit from this nasty situation by insisting to send oil back to the surface so that they can continue receiving profit from the oil coming from that line. Do you know how much money they could potential make form a gas line like that. Don't you all realize how much money they are already loosing from this crisis and how expensive it is to install new oil rigs these days. If they were really worried about this life threatening ecological situation that we all are in, they would have pumped concrete down there long ago to stop this once and for all. GAS IS NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR PLANET!!!!!!!!! Please people, I am asking those who can to speak out and get others involved in stopping this serious disaster before oil destroys the entire Gulf. My question is why isn't the government more involved with the effort? Are we all going to seriously just sit here and watch our beautiful Gulf of Mexico goes to &^%*.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JORMA

    trapping the material in cold high pressure enviroment causes these crystals to form

    let it flow freely (upwards) but use flexible material to steer the flow (funnel it) and then cinch the top attached to pipe

    May 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. riley

    Jon wrote: "It will be solved, it will be solved by BP, not by Obamabots and the level of panic displayed by some of you is amazing."
    I'd like to echo Siara's critique of this truly stupid comment.

    One admirable aspect of the current administration, in sharp distinction to the previous one, is that it has attracted the best possible possible technical advisors to Washington, regardless of their political affiliations. We no longer have political hacks running FEMA, for example, nor energy advisory committees being selected based on their views on abortion.

    The current Undersecretary for Science in the Department Energy was previously the Chief Scientist for BP (and before that Provost of Caltech). His boss is a Nobel Laureate who formerly ran one of the largest multipurpose DOE laboratories in the US, Lawrence Berkeley. I do not know the political affiliations of ether of these men, but their technical qualifications are extraordinary. BP clearly would agree. Obama is getting the best possible advice, and in contrast to Jon, his people are working with BP to find solutions, not to allocate blame.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon W

    I agree that we all use oil for a LOT of products we use daily, but the point is, we don't HAVE to. We need to learn to make things without oil. We have cars that are being built that don't use 1/10th of the oil. It's not going to happen overnight, but it has to happen. And we can make it happen. We can't just accept this type of damage. Do you really think we won't look back 100 years from now (if we're still here) and say, "can you believe those idiots?" "can you IMAGINE" that they KNEW they were destroying the planet and just kept on doing it?" They must have been 10 kinds of stupid!

    May 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. guuuue

    I agree with post 118

    May 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jon Evans

    I enjoy reading comments on these boards to point out the thousands of uneducated severly unintelligent arm-chair phd's that speak as if they actually, have any clkue of what they are talking about. haha

    i actually feel dumber every time I read some of these things.

    Lets set off a small nuke at the base cause I'm a former pet engineer, what? lol no you arent and ahaha... I bet you are a nuclear expert too huh? wikipedia helping you out?

    Also plenty of people go ... oh its the worst in history! worst than valdez!... yeah that wasn't even in the top 20 or so of largest spills in the world.

    It's going to destroy everythinf down the food chain and us! well, if you are going to run to one spectrum, lets go to the other. We wouldnt be pumping oil if YOU who make the comments werent using it to power your car, home, life... to type on this messageboard 🙂 so, I can blame you.

    Grow up people and learn some common sense. You ignorant worthless inviduals want to say its greedy bp! greedy oil business! what? how does that have any logical basis in what happened? are you hippies?

    May 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rich

    It's funny how people with no knowledge of a subject come out of the weeds to throw daggers at those actually working on the problem. If you have better ideas for how to deal with the problem, why not send them to our beloved government and/or directly to BP? I'm sure they'd love to hear from you since you clearly have it all figured out.

    As for the situation, while certainly serious, it is far from being the epic disaster that the media is making it out to be. As indicated by several comparisons to other oil spills around the US shores, this is far from surpassing the worst of them. Regardless, capping a leak 5,000 ft down in the water is not easy because they have to work remotely using unmanned submarine equipmment. Not to mention, these fixes they are attempting have never been attempted in such a depth - so there are a lot of unknowns.

    You can't blame them for being CAUTIOUS and not running out there and throwing this device carelessly on the leak and hoping for the best. There is a risk of a much greater problem if they do more damage to that well. I'd MUCH rather them do it right than cause a bigger problem, wouldn't you?

    May 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chub

    thecatsbestfriend I can't imagine what type of diasters that a museum would have that would require a contingency plan other than get the artifacts to a safe location. Let's put that museum of yours at 5000 feet below sea level and then see how you operate. Or we can look at what happens when a city floods do to heavy rains and see how you would re-act like the good folks in Nashville trying to protect the Opryland and their homes.

    Its obvious you don't have a clue, but you have all the answers.

    And to all you HATRIOTS, BP knows what it is doing and have used this technique before. Just not at this depth. They anticipated the hydrates to form inside the pipe and they have an anwser for that. They did expect hydrates to form insdie the dome, but they are looking at ways to solve this alos. Hence the term setback.

    CHILL!!!!!!

    May 8, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Art

    Worst bio hazard in 1000 years, worse than Cherynobl?

    well someone has a sense of humor. The famous Kuwaiti spill by the Iraqi's dumped almost 10,000 times the oil that has leaked so far.

    The biggest tanker spiils several hundred times the size of this leak – so far.

    Yes, folks if you really believe that we won't be able to "fix" this, you probably also believe we didn't put a man on the moon, that the attack on the WTC was done by the Israeliis in partnership with W Bush, etc. Get a life time....

    As to someone mentioning Prince William Sound: Following the Exxon Valdez spill, congress (democrat controlled) passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requiring that there be a cleanup plan for spills before new drilling.

    So, who in the US government do we FIRE, for dropping the ball on that one.

    And children, stop whining about our laws being too weak, because of lobbying and influence. Guess what that means our congresspeople are all a bunch of incompetents as well as crooks... Want an relaxing of the laws – send me a political contribution. Our govenment these days runs on bribery, blackmail and coercion of business, and they still can't do any useful oversight. Don't blame the Fox if the farmer leaves the hen house door wide open. It's not the foxes responsibility for oversight.

    Why does our govenment have nothing better to offer than speeches and old "boom" technology. -a

    May 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fred t

    @steve – I did not state anything. I could care less what you or Jon (don't judge mel) thinks. I am curious. Curious as to what BP's motivation is for dome. Is it to cap the oil well, or is the dome intended to save the well? It SEEMS to me that BP is doing whatever they can to NOT plug the hole permanently. I could be wrong. It also seems painfully obvious that these oil fellers fought regulations that MAY have prevented the last two weeks worth of crude filling the gulf.

    Armchair critics are the lot of you (including me) if you are commenting here on this story, you are no better than anyone else commenting.

    How about this, Jon,.. head on down to the gulf and lend your expertise there?

    My official final thought; STOP OFFSHORE DRILLING PERMANENTLY!

    May 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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