NEW ORLEANS – Monday brought mixed news as BP said it was siphoning more than one-fifth of the oil that has been spewing into the Gulf for almost a month, as worries escalated that the ooze may reach a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.
BP says it has resumed pumping oil to a ship on the surface after a weekend setback that halted efforts to siphon off the crude spewing from a damaged well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Crews re-inserted the tube into the well’s riser stack Sunday. BP spokesman Mark Proegler said, “the 4-inch pipe is now connected to a ship on the surface and is pumping oil back to the surface.”
The company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated about 5,000 barrels have been spewing out each day. Some outside experts have estimated several times as much. Engineers finally got the containment system working on Sunday after weeks of failed solutions.
The underwater operation involved guiding robots to insert a small tube into a 21-inch pipe, known as a riser, to funnel the oil to a ship at the surface. “It’s working as planned and we are very slowly increasing the rate that is coming from the riser tool up to the surface,” BP senior executive vice president Kent Wells told reporters at BP’s U.S. headquarters in Houston. “So we do have oil and gas coming to the ship now,” he said