Oil Spill Update, Day 80: BP Readies New Top Hat

BY Chris Amico  July 9, 2010 at 2:44 PM EST

BP is hoping a window of calm weather will give it time to swap out containment domes over the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Washington Post:

The company plans to change caps on the gusher, a tricky task that could greatly improve the ability to capture the oil or perhaps even shut down the well — but that would permit oil to flow unabated during the switch. The company had planned to change the cap only after first connecting the well to a new ship at the site, the Helix Producer, which can siphon up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day. But with a window of calm weather forecast for the next week or so, BP has accelerated its plans, administration officials said Thursday.

Before that happens, the government wants all the details, reports Politico.

Friday marks day 80 of the spill, and movie star turned engineer Kevin Costner is here to help.

“I know a lot of times you have been down on the ground and stayed down,” Costner told workers and visitors who had come to see the latest in the fight against the oil spill. “But the machine I once dreamed of is here to help you.”

Costner invested about $24 million over 15 years in technology to separate oil and water.

Meanwhile, an appeals court again rejected the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling.

“The secretary has failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury if the stay is not granted,” reads the panel’s decision, issued late Thursday shortly after the panel heard arguments from both sides in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. “He has made no showing that there is any likelihood that drilling activities will be resumed pending appeal.”

As always, the last best hope remains the relief wells, which are nearing the broken wellhead. “We are down to the closing days and weeks,” Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said, according to the Associated Press.

But even that could fail, and the AP reported Friday on BP’s complicated backup plan: send the oil to other wells in the Gulf.

The company would build pipes along the floor of the Gulf, connecting the Deepwater Horizon well to other non-producing wells.

“That would take some construction and some time. It would probably move us into the late August timeframe,” Allen told AP.

Here’s Allen, speaking about the progress of the relief wells:

We are continuing to keep our Gulf oil spill tracker updated with the latest figures on collection. Stay tuned.