Bad weather stalls the plugging of the failed well in the Gulf of Mexico
By Nicholas Moroni
Poor weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico prevented an operation to plug the failed well that resulted in the months-long oil spill in the gulf region, The Associated Press reported today.
The AP article cited a phone conference delivered this morning by retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen (the federal go-to-man for the spill response effort) to a group of reporters, in which he said that waves "six to eight feet high" in waters off the coast of Louisiana pose too great a risk for BP engineers and rig workers that would attempt to remove the failed blowout preventer and replace it with a new one. The blowout preventer was supposed to seal the well, when a surge of natural gas mixed with oil in the well's pipeline causing the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon on April 20.
A temporary cap that was applied in July to collect oil through a pipeline that lead to several vessels - one that was loosely fitted and failed to permanently seal the leak at the time - will also be removed.
The response team will then apply a new cap, and connect it to a relief well that is still a work in progress. 50 feet of drilling still needs to take place to complete that well, but after that scientists will pump cement and mud into the well to permanently seal the well.
In July, BP successfully halted the flow of oil into the gulf after an 86 days of an out-of-control gusher. An estimated 4.9 billion barrels (around 206 gallons) of oil leaked into the gulf waters througout that time.
Allen said operations will resume in two to three days.