New Orleans: The US government said engineers will start work Monday to remove the temporary cap that stopped oil from gushing out of BP`s blown-out Gulf well so that crews can raise a key piece of equipment from the seabed.
Retired Coast Guard Adm Thad Allen, the government`s point man for the spill response, told reporters today that engineers must remove the cap so they can raise the failed blowout preventer. The blowout preventer is considered a key piece of evidence in determining what caused the April rig explosion that unleashed the gushing oil.
The leak was first contained when engineers were able to place a cap atop BP`s well. Workers then pumped mud and cement in through the top in a so-called "static kill" operation that significantly reduced pressure inside the well. Officials don`t expect oil to leak into the sea again when the cap is removed, but Allen has ordered BP to be ready to collect any leaking crude just in case.
The Department of Justice and other federal investigators are overseeing the work to remove the blowout preventer, Allen said. The 15-meter, 272,000-kilogram device, which was designed to prevent such a catastrophe will be taken out of the water with the well pipe still inside to ensure the pipe doesn`t break apart any more than it already has.
Keeping the blowout preventer intact is important because it`s considered an essential piece of evidence in determining what caused the blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20.
After the explosion, 800 million litres of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico until the temporary cap stopped the flow. The explosion on the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd and being operated by BP PLC, killed 11 workers.