BP expects to attach a tight, new cap today on its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, but it will take 48 hours of testing to determine whether the fix will be enough to finally stop crude from gushing into the Gulf. The new cap, known as "Top Hat 10," was about 300 feet from the point where it's supposed to connect with the leaking well, BP COO Doug Suttles said in a briefing this morning.
The BP executive was careful to keep expectations grounded, stressing that it will take days to know whether it can withstand the pressure of the erupting oil and feed it through pipes to surface ships. The cap and vessels together make up BP's plan to stop oil from spewing into the Gulf for the first time since April 20. Once the cap is firmly in place, the company will begin "shutting in" the well by closing perforated pipe at the top. The company will be looking to see if the pressure rises under the cap. If it does, that means there are no other leaks, and the cap is stopping oil from leaking into the Gulf. But lower pressure readings may indicate leaking elsewhere in the well. In that case, Suttles said, the company will work to collect the leak with surface vessels and by dropping yet another cap on top of the stack.