Factbox: BP’s "top kill" out, spill containment cap in

(BestGrowthStock) – BP Plc abandoned its failed “top kill” effort to plug a leak in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday after it failed to stop the flow of oil and gas.

BP’s next step is to install a containment cap on top of a lower marine riser package, or LMRP — a piece of equipment that sits atop the failed blowout preventer at the seabed.

Here is an explanation of how the LMRP cap is supposed to work, as well as other technologies BP is employing to attempt to bring the well under control:

LMRP CAP

* BP will cut off a pipe that extends out from the top of the LMRP and cover the opening with a cap and grommet seal. Oil and gas are currently leaking from two places along the pipe.

* The cap will be connected by pipe to a drillship at the water’s surface.

* The cap is intended to corral the majority of the leak and channel oil and gas to the ship through the pipe.

* BP expects the process to take four to seven days, though Chief Executive Tony Hayward said they would need about four days.

* Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said BP monitored pressure data from the failed blowout preventer during the top kill operation, and determined that cutting off the pipe at the top of the LMRP would not have a significant impact on the flow of the leak.

* The cap effort is, in theory, similar to a much larger 98-ton containment dome placed at the end of the broken pipe in early May. That dome also was connected to the ship by pipe and was intended to corral and channel oil and gas to the surface.

However, too much seawater got inside, and mixed with natural gas at high pressures and cold temperatures and formed ice-like hydrates that blocked oil from flowing up the pipe to the ship.

Suttles said the smaller cap and seal are designed to exclude seawater and avoid the hydrate problem.

THE RELIEF WELL

* Drilling continued on a relief well begun on May 2 intended to intercept and cap the leaking well beneath the seabed. BP estimates it will be finished in late July or early August.

* Drilling on a second well, which began on May 16, was suspended this week while the top kill was in progress. That rig was ready to resume drilling if needed.

* A relief well is widely considered the best option to shut down the Macondo well. The method was used effectively to plug the Ixtoc well in Mexico, which blew out in 1979.

BOP ON BOP

* The second relief well drilling was suspended so its blowout preventer could be on standby in case BP decides to place it atop the failed blowout preventer to stop the leak.

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(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Mary Milliken)

Factbox: BP’s “top kill” out, spill containment cap in