News / USA

BP to Deploy Latest Fix for Gulf Oil Leak

BP oil company is preparing to deploy its latest effort to cap an undersea well that is leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico. New underwater video of the leak is raising questions about the extent of the problem.

BP engineers say the current effort involves placing a tube inside a broken oil pipe that has been leaking oil for the past four weeks. Engineers hope the tube, which is fitted with a rubber cap, will enable them to pump most of the oil to a surface ship.

Coast Guard Commander Thad Allen said the tube is one of several techniques that BP is developing to stop the leak.

"I would caution everyone that this is a leak mitigation effort," said Admiral Allen. "It is not intended to completely capture all the oil that is leaking from there.  But it should substantially reduce it, if it is successful."

BP representatives say a permanent fix for the leak is to drill a new well, which could take three months.

Earlier this week, BP released video from a remote controlled submarine, which showed oil spewing from a gash in the undersea pipe.  Some scientists and oil experts say the video shows that far more oil is leaking than official estimates of 5,000 barrels a day.  BP representatives say that number is hard to determine, because the leak is 1.5 kilometers below the surface.

Commander Allen says the debate over leak estimates has not affected the response from the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Whether it was one, five, 10 or 15 [thousand barrels of oil], our mobilization of resources has been for something far beyond that, because we are always prepared for a catastrophic event," he said.

Since the leak began last month, researchers at the University of Miami have been using satellite images images to track the oil spill on the surface. Imaging expert Hans Graber says initial data suggested there was at least 5,000 barrels leaking a day, and probably more.

He says bad weather has made it hard to estimate the leak rate, but the latest imagery shows the slick now covers 9,000 square kilometers.

"There is clearly a lot coming out," he said. "What we don't know is how much is evaporating or even staying below the surface."

Scientists say it is important to understand the size of the leak to prepare measures to combat it.  BP oil company has been spraying chemicals to disperse the oil in the water, where they say microorganisms will break it down over time.

Researchers say the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico may speed that process.  But oceanographer Jennifer Cherrier of Florida A&M University says it may not be that simple. In her research, she has found that some parts of the Florida coastline have microorganisms that break down oil, while others do not.

Cherrier says it is unclear how the oil will affect the diverse regions of the gulf, and the growth of oil-eating microorganisms.

"Would they grow in, if they were continually exposed [to oil]?  Probably," said Jennifer Cherrier. "Would they eat the oil at the rate that we want to see it eaten?  Probably not."

So far, BP oil company says it has spent $450 million to fight the oil spill. The final cost of clean-up work and compensation payments is expected to be several billion dollars.

A map of some of the world's worst oil spills

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid