OIL SPILL -- September 2, 2010 at 6:29 PM ET
BP Removes Cap From Well, Moves Toward Final Well Kill
BP engineers on Thursday removed the cap that first stopped the blown-out Macondo oil well from spewing oil and gas back in mid-July. The removal brings BP one step closer to permanently killing the well, which has been shut in since July 15.
Since the cap was put in place, engineers have also plugged the well by injecting heavy mud and cement through its top. As the cap was removed late Thursday afternoon, undersea video feeds did not show any evidence of oil escaping the well, though The Associated Press reported that collection ships were standing by just in case. But the mud and cement that BP pumped into the top of the well last month seemed to be holding down the oil in the well pipe as intended.
Removing the cap will allow engineers to next remove the blowout preventer underneath, the key piece of equipment that failed when the spill began in April. The blowout preventer will be taken to a NASA facility in Michoud, La., for forensic study, according to Reuters.
BP plans to replace the old, failed blowout preventer with a new one. Then they'll be ready to complete the "bottom kill" -- using the relief well to pump mud and cement into the bottom of the well to fill up the annulus, the area between the inner pipe and the outer casing of the well.