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Gulf oil spill: Oil containment work resumes after ship struck by lightning

June 15, 2010 |  1:45 pm

A drill ship resumed siphoning off oil gushing from a blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday after a bolt of lightning struck the vessel and ignited a fire that halted containment efforts, BP said.

Company spokesman Bill Salvin said that the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise resumed processing oil Tuesday afternoon, about five hours after the fire caused an emergency shutdown. Engineers on the ship have been siphoning about 630,000 gallons of oil a day through a cap on top of the well.

He said there was no damage reported to the containment cap, and the Coast Guard approved BP restarting the system.

“If we believed it was damaged, we would not have restarted the operation,” Salvin said.

Salvin was unsure how long the fire lasted but said it was apparently small and confined to the top of the ship's derrick.

A crew member aboard a nearby vessel that specializes in firefighting said that his ship was called in to put out the fire, but by the time they arrived, it was already out.

“This is not an uncommon occurrence of this type and in this type of situation,” Salvin said, adding that the Discovery Enterprise has a number of safeguards in place to deal with the possibility of a fire and “they all worked as designed.”

The fire was another setback for the embattled company in its nearly two-month struggle to stop the spill.

-- Associated Press