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Coast Guard: BP Efforts To End Flow From Gulf Well Are Over

BP Plc has given up trying to plug its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico any sooner than August, laying out a series of steps to pipe the oil to the surface and ship it ashore for refining, said Thad Allen, the U.S. government’s national commander for the incident. Undersea robots began sawing away damaged pipe today, preparing for the first of those attempts, Allen said today at a press conference in New Orleans. The new strategy, which is subject to disruption by tropical storms and hurricanes, will continue until relief wells being drilled can plug the damaged well from the bottom, he said. That will happen no earlier than August. BP on May 30 said its “top kill” attempt to plug the well with mud and rubber scrap had failed. BP will try to install a snug-fitting “top cap” over the gusher within 24 hours to 48 hours once the robots complete severing the pipe. To get a good seal, BP needs a clean cut at the top of the blowout preventer, a five-story stack of valves that failed to prevent an April 20 blowout that killed 11 people and started the spill, Allen said. Should the jet of oil and gas drive the cap aside, another cap designed to let more oil escape will be tried, Allen said. “We’re talking about containing the well,” Allen said. “We don’t want to restrict the pressure or flow down that well bore because I don’t think we know the condition of it after the top kill.”

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