Gulf oil spill: Testing of well-capping device to proceed
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Wednesday that the federal government has given BP permission to begin pressure testing of the "capping stack" placed over its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico to see if the device can stop the flow of oil into the ocean without causing leaks and ruptures around the well site.
The tests will be conducted in six-hour intervals for 48 hours, after which engineers will assess the data and decide if they can cap and stop the leak or if they need to allow oil to flow to collection systems linked to the surface, Allen said.
Engineers are concerned that a low-pressure reading could indicate that crude oil is leaking out of the well casings, potentially erupting through rock strata onto the sea bottom and, in the worst case, creating a ragged crater that would be extremely difficult to cap.
-- Geoff Mohan