BP Manages to Cap the Oil Well for the First Time
BP has successfully installed a cap over the well in the Gulf, in the most significant development in the ongoing effort to stop the oil spill thusfar. According to BP Vice President Kent Wells, the oil was capped at 2:25 p.m. on July 15th, nearly 86 days after the well burst in the Gulf, igniting a fire that killed 11 workers and began what some are calling the worst environmental disaster in the United States’ history. Yay.
Congratulations, BP. This is an amazing development. The cap that should have been in place immediately after the accident happened, has now been installed. It’s only 2 and a half months late. Not bad, guys.
Everyone should be careful with their excitement levels regarding this recent news. BP is currently doing pressure testing on the cap, which means they are seeing if this thing has any chance at holding under the tremendous pressure of the spewing oil/methane combo. There is still a significant chance that the cap could still fail and the oil will inexorably continue flowing. In an even worse-case scenario, the well itself may not hold under the massive pressure and it might rupture, making the leak even worse than before and perhaps sending the cap exploding outward like a giant torpedo. There is simply no guarantee this thing will work at all. And, since they are doing pressure testing, they will probably need to open the cap up again a minute from now anyway.
This is not a permanent solution. Rather, it is designed to stop the oil while two relief wells are being drilled. The relief wells, in theory, will allow engineers to plug the well for good around mid-August. Of course, there is also the possibility that the relief wells won’t work, instead creating two more gashes in the line, adding to the already explosive oil-arrhea we have today.
The BP spill has caused massive damage in the Gulf, releasing up to 184 million gallons of oil and threatening the lives of those who depend on the resources of the coast for survival. It has also contributed to the creation of a massive dead zone in the ocean, resulting from the inability of sunlight to pass through the now turbid waters. There is a long road ahead in order to clean this mess up.
Work to cap the well has only just begun, and there are still many things that could go wrong, bringing us all back to square one again. So once again, hooray for BP. But forgive our cynicism here, as we opt not to hold our breath.
If all does go according to plan, and the relief well operations succeed in August, only then can the real work begin.