May 5th, 2010
06:01 PM ET

Latest Updates: Gulf oil spill

[Updated at 5:53 p.m.]  Authorities battled the Gulf of Mexico's massive oil spill with sweat, steel and fire Wednesday as patches of oil crept to within two miles of the Louisiana bayous.

Two specially equipped "burn rigs" set fire to patches of crude oil near the ruptured undersea well at the heart of the spill, a BP executive said Wednesday afternoon.

At the same time, a four-story containment vessel was loaded aboard a barge in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, en route to the well, the first step in an attempt to capture the leaking oil at an unprecedented depth.

And thousands of volunteers, wildlife officials, idled fishermen and National Guard troops mobilized to string floating booms along the beaches and across the mouths of estuaries leading toward the Gulf.

The outer sheen of oil was reported to be "very close" to the Chandeleur Islands and the Mississippi River delta in southeastern Louisiana, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters. And an oyster fisherman spotted a large patch of oil sheen near the border between St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, about 40 miles southeast of New Orleans, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.

Landry said the heavier concentrations of crude remained further offshore, and the latest predictions from the federal government said the weather would keep it largely stationary for the next three days.

The 72-hour forecast shows winds shifting to the south and blowing about  10 to 15 knots (12-17 mph), which is likely to produce only "a little bit of  movement on the fringes," said Charlie Henry of the National Oceanographic and  Atmospheric Administration.

"Nothing's changing real fast this week," Henry said.

[Updated at 1:06 p.m.] Authorities battling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico plan to try to burn off another patch of the growing slick Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

The move comes a week after the last attempt to use a controlled fire to destroy some of the oil pouring from a damaged underwater well. That attempt destroyed about 100 barrels of oil, but well owner BP said at the time that it planned larger burns when weather permitted.

The well is gushing an estimated 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day. Efforts to cut off the well have failed, and BP planned to ship a massive steel box out to the site on Wednesday that it hoped could be used to contain most of the leak.

[Updated at 10:00 a.m.] Federal and state officials in Florida said Wednesday they are stepping up preparations for fallout from the massive oil spill now threatening to spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of setting up an incident command post in St. Petersburg, Coast Guard Captain Tim Close told reporters. Coast Guard officials are being joined in their preparations by, among others, representatives of BP - the company responsible for the spill - and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

They are following a regional contingency plan that has "been in place for years," Close said. The strategy identifies the most environmentally sensitive areas of Florida's Gulf coast and the most effective oil spill cleanup strategies.

"As of right now, there is no prediction of any landfall impact (of) oil on the west coast of Florida within the next 72 hours, and that's as far out as the projections actually go," Close said.Close noted that the "best scientific information right now is that, if there is impact, it is not going to be in the form of one giant oil slick. It's going to be in the form of residual from the spill - tar balls (and) what's referred to as 'patties,' kind of a darker, thicker ... stickier mess. But not one great sheen."

The spill could ultimately land "anywhere on the west coast of Florida or it could be nowhere on the west coast of Florida," he said.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m.] Workers with BP plan to start moving a four-story metal container Wednesday toward a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that could get even worse.

The company has a risky plan to lower the container 5,000 feet into the water off the coast of Louisiana and position it above a ruptured oil pipe. If successful, the container would sit there like an upside-down funnel, sucking up oil that would otherwise add to the growing slick in the Gulf.

BP plans to start moving the container toward the coast around noon Wednesday, said Doug Suttles, the company's chief operating officer. It will
take a couple of hours to get to the coast and then a few more days to actually get the container in place, he said.

[Posted at 8:39 a.m.] Crews working to stem the tide of oil in the Gulf of Mexico capped one of the three leaking points Wednesday, a BP executive said.

John Curry, the director of external affairs for BP, said the leak that was capped was the smallest of the three leaks. Curry says the pipe was cut off and sealed with a slip valve.

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Richard,

    Those people in the Gulf Coast states...the ones whose livelihoods depend on a clean and safe Gulf that would be outraged by my comments...their livelihood depends more on the oil that is being drilled. You want to do something to help their livelihoods? Lower taxes, drill our own oil, and watch their businesses skyrocket. And like I stated, the disruption from an ACCIDENT such as this is temporary. It will all go back to normal, just like it never happened, unlike the 1.2 million fatal auto accidents over the last 30 years that would have been prevented by lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, but no one wants to do that because it would be too inconvenient. Is the untimely death or maiming of the average American more threatened by a temporary oil spill, or a car accident? Where's the outrage? Where's the demand for a simple law that would stop all the highway deaths? The outrage we see concerning this non-event is simply feigned for political purposes. Only the blind or stupid are falling for it. Unfortunately, this represents most of our once great country.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brent

    Blame it on the republicans right? Why not blame it on Bush, everything else is? We need the oil, period. Stuff happens, it's sad, but true. If you have a completely green solution for energy, please share, and make your millions. I feel bad for the wildlife, but not as bad as I do for the families of the 11 victims that died on the rig.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SlappyChuckles

    "...This country runs on energy – we need to exploit our natural resources or we will all be unemployed. Can't you see beyond politics and do what is right?..."

    This is a pretty foolish statement for the affect '...exploiting...' our natural resources has on our future generations and the Earth. Why make the Earth a desert? Why cut down every tree and suck up every barrel of oil?

    Sound pretty irresponsible to me. Sounds pretty crazy.

    Ask yourself the question: What do we when its all gone? Duh.... Live like cavemen again only this time its desert cavemen.

    You can't backpack the rockies any more and find clean water. The top tree line of the Rockies is dropping from 9,000 feet to 7,000 feet because of polution. How do you justify that to future generations?

    Man you're a greedy pig.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. phoenix72

    Why not try to blast the well shut, and then dig another one in it's place?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cubas

    Did you wan´t some oil?
    Take it....

    May 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phoenix72

    I meant to show how implode the well shut.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    I am curious as to why no submersible like the Alvin has been looked at as an option to be used in an effort to close the relief valve that has been mentioned so many times. After reviewing the capabilities of the submersible Alvin online it seems like it could reach and close the relief valve with little to no problem. I realize that they have used submersibles, but is anything quite the same as having live people right at the source of the problem trying to fix it? Please let me know why no one has thought of this or if it has been thought of and why it has not been attempted.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    May 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. brandie phillips

    ok this is getting way out of hand this has been going on for about three weeks now and that rig lets out about 21,000 gallons of oil every day and the oil is heading toward florida and the people that are in charge of it arent doing a dang thing about it! they just sit there and talk about what they are going to do and the most they have done really so far is put those ballons out by the island but what god is that going to do? not very much! well there had to be people down there when they where building it so why cant someone go down there and turn the darn thing off its killing all the animals and polluting the water and they dont even care! well how would they fell if they where those animals that had to live in that everyday and get that in there systems!!

    May 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Information_is_power

    A lot of emotiion around the issue and rightfully so however relying on the maintream electronic media to provide all of the information on the response isn't wise since they don't know the industry, the terminology or the technology conventionally used.

    I found a useful joint website from the operator (BP) and other stakeholders which may balance out the information being reported ... http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

    May 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe, Arizona

    Any theories that North Korea torpedoed this South Korean made rig to keep US occupied after they torpedoed the South Korean Warship?

    More likely engineering got a fail safe for this rig to stop the spill. If torpedoed, everything does not work.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Carlos

    The industry has just learned where the envelop is for ultra deep water drilling. Like an airliner crash, its a series of things that go wrong to bring the plane down. Its apparent the BOP was to small for the pressures downhole. The BOP failed, sonic switch lawsuit or not, the unit failed to contain the kick, period. It seems there may have been issues with the cement and the process used by HAL. There was excess gas in the annulus space between the plug and the cap. And there may have been some shortcuts along the way. This is not just one thing that went wrong, its been a deadly combination of events that lead to 11 deaths and an environmental disaster. BP, RIG, and HAL, and Camron are all at fault.

    At the end of the day, green energy or not, oil and Natural gas are the fabric of everyones lives here on the planet, its really in everything including our food. Its just as much a part of us as water is. The resources have to come from somewhere, its more than turbines and PV cells and green energy, Hydrocarbons are in everything we use everyday, clothes, rubber, plastics, dye, fertilizers, paint, the list goes on and on. We hate it, but really we need it and until someone comes up with a better way to power our lives Oil and Gas are here to stay.

    All you smaller government folks out there, this is another industry that needs regulation and oversight. Just like the financial industry, the healthcare industry, the insurance industry...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carlos

    phoenix72
    there is 15,000 lbs of pressure coming up from the earth. That what caused the explosion in the 1st place. Any explosion at the wellhead will just make things far worse and uncontainable. Then the number of barrels getting pumped up from the formation will never be contained.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve Nicols

    This is great; I'm lovin' it!
    There were so many warnings about this and now that its happened, the usual tirade of blame the Brits, the North koreans and the Chinese.

    How about we blame the Gulf Staes for ignoring warning after warning and allowing an oil field in their own back yard? What blame do the good folks of Louisianna have to bear?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Digger Inman

    The truth and facts never are revealed even before deep water drilling begins. The fundamental causes of the US's problems start with the excessive energy needs and manifest themselves in the corrupt political process. Great countries can fail; they are brought down by the corrupt interaction between powerful political leaders and special business interests. This is the big picture that citizens should be concerned with. The root cause of the spill is just an effect of this flawed process. Real solutions will take time and radical reform of US's political systems. I hope we are not too late.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. JMC

    Oil rules the world and drilling in the Gulf Mexico will continue for many years to come. Sorry its reality deal with it are park your cars and shut off the power to your house....

    May 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
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