Washington: BP Plc said on Wednesday a 24-hour delay in a key pressure test on a cap on its Gulf of Mexico wellhead was needed to reduce risks as it works to stop oil that has been spewing for months into the ocean.
While they waited for BP to start critical integrity tests originally scheduled for Tuesday, investors paused for breath as they watched to see how well the new cap worked to stop oil from leaking out of the burst Macondo well.
Kent Wells, senior vice president of exploration and production at BP, told reporters that scientists delayed the test to make sure it "was absolutely designed to maximize what we would learn from it and minimize any risk under all possible scenarios."
"This test is so important that the decision was taken to give them another 24 hours to make sure that this was the best possible test procedure we could execute," said Wells.
BP announced on Tuesday evening it had delayed the procedure after consultations with scientists and engineers from the industry, government and the oil company.
Wells said BP would look at the latest information around midday on Wednesday and decide if any changes are needed for the tests before moving forward.
The tests, which could mark a turning point in the massive environmental disaster, would last between six and 48 hours.
Officials said they were running more analysis on the cap before trying to close the wellhead after previous efforts to halt the worst offshore spill in U.S. history failed.
"BP don`t want to mess it up. It`s better to be safe than sorry, they`ve already learnt that," said analyst Peter Hitchens at Panmure Gordon in London.
"The last thing you want to do is try to start capping it and find out you`re causing damage to the well and the whole containment system gets broken down."
If tests progress as hoped, BP said no oil would flow from the well for the first time since a rig being drilled for BP by Transocean Ltd sank days after the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers.