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June 4, 2010

BP places cap on leaking riser

BP has succeeded in placing the Lower Marine Riser Package cap on the leaking riser of the Deepwater Horizon well. But, as might be expected with operations being carried out at twice the collapse depth of a nuclear sub, all did not go optimally.

Efforts to make a precision cut through the riser pipe with a damond wire saw were unsuccessful. Instead, shears had to be used producing a jagged cut and thus a less well fitting cap.

Initially, as much oil as ever appeared to be spewing past the cap, which was lifted into place about 8.35 p.m. Thursday. Much of this is coming from four vents at the top of the cap. Plans were or these to be progressively closed as the well is connected to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship on the surface. This is another tricky operation that involves taking steps to prevent formation of the methane hydrate crystals that frustrated earlier attempts to cap the well. And even if all goes successfully, some oil will still leak out the bottom of the cap.

"We do have the cap successfully in place. And the oil you see escaping right now is actually part of the design," BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles told CBS's The Early Show today. "What we have is four vent valves on the top of this cap. We'll be successfully closing those vent valves through the course of the day."'

Suttles said the goal is to capture more than 90 percent of the flow.

Meanwhile, subsea dispersants are being released at the spill site.


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