Engineers confident well cap will hold during storm

By HARRY R. WEBER and DAVID DISHNEAU – Associated Press
APTOPIX Gulf Oil Spill

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO

Key ships stationed over BP’s crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico were ordered to evacuate Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Bonnie, but engineers have grown so confident in the leaky cap fixed to well head that they will leave it closed while they are gone.

Tropical Storm Bonnie, which blossomed over the Bahamas and was to enter the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend, could delay by another 12 days the push to plug the broken well for good using mud and cement, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen and BP officials conceded. Even if it’s not a direct hit, the rough weather will push back efforts to kill the well by at least a week.

“While this is not a hurricane, it’s a storm that will have probably some significant impacts, we’re taking appropriate cautions,” Allen said in Mobile.

Allen issued the order Thursday night to begin moving dozens of vessels from the spill site, including the rig that’s drilling the relief tunnel engineers will use to permanently throttle the free-flowing crude near the bottom of the well. Some vessels could stay on site, he said.

“While these actions may delay the effort to kill the well for several days, the safety of the individuals at the well site is our highest concern,” he said in a statement.

Scientists say even a severe storm shouldn’t affect the well cap, nearly a mile beneath the ocean surface 40 miles from the Louisiana coast.

,Associated Press writers Colleen Long in Port Fourchon, La., Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans and Melissa Nelson in Theodore, Ala., contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/07/22/2352138/engineers-confident-well-cap-will.html#ixzz0uVPZqQ00

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