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Gulf efforts faced with more delays

BP’S RESPONSE team faced further delays yesterday as the latest attempt to plug a well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico were met with a snag.

An underwater saw used to sever a pipe from the damaged blow out preventer currently sitting on the seabed became lodged in the pipe, creating further disruption to BP’s latest moves to stop oil from further flowing into the Gulf.

It is understood that late last night, BP had been successful at freeing the saw using underwater robots.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the response efforts, said there was a possibility that the saw would have to be replaced.

The remotely controlled saw is being used to cut a pipe that is leading from the damaged blow out preventer so that BP can place a cap over it and redirect the oil to a ship sitting on the water’s surface.

A spokesperson from BP said yesterday that the group was still working to plan but that it expects hiccups as some methods have never been tried.

It hopes to have the cap on within the next four days.

Some analysts and investors have warned that the oil could continue to leak into the Gulf up until the Christmas period.

The latest move is to try and contain the spill currently leaking up to 19,000 barrels of oil into the sea a day by redirecting it while BP digs a number of relief wells.

On Tuesday BP said that work on the first relief well reached 12,090 feet, while the second one, which was suspended temporarily, has reached 8,576 feet.

“Systems such as the latest containment cap have never before been deployed at these depths and conditions and their efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured,” warned the UK based company.

BP launched this latest technique after the “top kill” approach, which saw engineers pump 30,000 barrels of mud into the well, broke down over the weekend.

The failure led BP’s shares to fall yesterday in the US and UK.

FAST FACTS | EFFORTS TO PLUG LEAK
BP underwater robots are using huge shears to slice through the main seabed pipe at the site of the Gulf of Mexico spill. The firm will then try to contain most of the leak by capping the opening after the pipe remnants are cut away.