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But BP is stressing that even if no oil escapes for 48 hours, that will not mean the flow of oil and gas has been stopped permanently.
If the pressure remains high, BP and the government will have to decide whether to try to keep the well shut or to leave it open and pipe oil to four vessels on the surface.The US government's incident commander, Adm Thad Allen, said even if it was successful, the well would be reopened and oil capture by ships on the surface would restart while a seismic test was done.
Reason it took so long is that initially they cut corners ( and both them AND the regulators that were supposed to provide oversight are equally to blame for that) and made this problem. Then they had to get the repair parts made ( these are not exactly something you can go and buy at the corner hardware shop in a range of sizes and colours for a pound) and ship them out to what is essentially the middle of the gulf. Then you have to drop them to the bottom of the sea and assemble this over a pipe that is bent, buckled and also blowing out oil at a pressure so high that you can burst nitrogen cylinders with it. Add to this having to use remote operation ( remember you are way beyond the depth of any diver no matter what they breathe) using submarines that are both clumsy and delicate and not terribly maneuverable or cheap. Then you also need the people who are trained and can use this equipment, they are both not plentiful and not cheap, and may already have other work to do.After all this they did cap it, and hopefully this temporaty cap will hold until they can plug the pipe further down and install a better valve system to capture the oil ( you still want to take it to a refinery, closing down oil production there in the gulf means oil companies buy oil from other places, like Nigeria ( love the blood oil in your car?) or ration fuel supplies) in a production well.
When this distruction first occurred, the mass of the collaping delivery tube from the BOP to the ocean surface, as it was submerging, could it have put a strain and maybe have caused some fracturing at the base or below the Wells sea floor exit port, or some fatigue to its structure ? Is that the reason they are being cautious?.