The plan to start choking off the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico was suddenly halted as government officials and BP said further analysis must be done today before critical tests could proceed. No explanation was given for the decision, and no date was set for when testing would begin on the new, tighter-fitting cap BP installed on the blown-out well Monday. In the meantime, oil continued spewing into the Gulf.
The oil giant had been scheduled to start slowly shutting off valves yesterday on the cap. A series of methodical, preliminary steps were completed before progress stalled. Engineers spent hours on a seismic survey, creating a map of the rock under the sea floor to spot potential dangers, like gas pockets. An unstable area around the wellbore could create bigger problems if the leak continued elsewhere in the well after the cap valves were shut, experts said. It was unclear whether there was something in the results of the mapping that prompted officials to delay. (Read more Gulf oil spill stories.)