Louisiana – A highly anticipated test designed to measure pressure within BP’s ruptured oil well began Thursday after another yet another delay .
Finally after all the delays BP’s testing of a new cap that has at least temporarily shut off the flow of oil, the federal point man for the crisis said Thursday that the system is likely to be used not to actually cap the oil but as an improved siphon.
A short time later, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells announced that for the first time in almost three months, no oil was flowing into the Gulf. This was part of the test, as BP measures pressure in the well to see how it’s holding. Higher pressure readings mean the well is containing the oil, while lower pressure means some is leaking out.
“It felt very good to see no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico,” Wells said in a briefing. He said company officials are “obviously very encouraged” but they are “trying to maintain a strict focus” on remembering the whole purpose of the test.
“I don’t want to create a false sense of excitement,” he said. “We want to move forward and make the right decisions.”
The “integrity” test could end after six hours, if the results are disappointing or the test could go on for 48 hours. The longer it goes, the better indications are that the well is holding with a custom-made sealing cap. BP cautioned that the oil cutoff, won’t go beyond the 48 hours.
National Incident Commander Thad Allen issued a statement later in the day, deeming it “likely” that “we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed.”
President Barack Obama called the end of the flow of oil into the ocean a “positive sign,” but cautioned that the latest effort was still in the testing phase. The spill has caused an economic and environmental disaster along the U.S. Gulf Coast.