Friday, July 9, 2010

Report: Oil Gusher Could be 100% Capped by Monday

The federal official leading the Gulf oil spill cleanup says a new containment cap and an additional ship collecting oil could effectively contain the spill as early as Monday.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen said Friday that the work to replace a leaky containment cap on the well head with a tighter one will begin Saturday.

At the same time, a ship connecting to a different part of leak is expected to come online Sunday.

If all goes according to plan, the combination could collect all of the oil leaking from the seafloor.

Workers at the site of BP's massive spill are set to begin the complicated cap-switching operation this weekend. But oil may flow unimpeded for several days during the process.

Allen said Friday that undersea robots will begin removing a cap mounted over the jagged remnants of the well head Saturday.

They plan to put a new containment cap that will form a better seal. Then, up to four ships will begin collecting the oil and gas.

The time from beginning the removal of the old cap to attaching the new cap will take several days.

Work continues on what officials hope will be the ultimate solution: a pair of relief wells intercepting the leaking well far below the seafloor. BP said Thursday that the first of the relief wells could be done by the end of the month. And if that doesn't succeed, one backup being considered is transferring the crude to non-producing underwater wells that are miles away.

BP would run the flow through pipelines across the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, Allen said.