Opinion Brief

Has BP finally capped the Gulf gusher?

Deep-sea robots successfully placed a tight-fitting cap on the Gulf oil gusher. Will it hold?

BP capping procedure

BP says it has successfully fit a tighter cap on its gushing Gulf Coast oil well, raising hopes that the oil could be completely contained in a day or two. BP started slowly closing the three valves on the 75-ton cap Tuesday, to see if the well pressure builds and the cap holds, like on a bottle of soda, or if the oil is leaking through damaged well structures into the rock below. Closing the valves too fast would be like sending "a train running into a brick wall," says University of Houston geologist Don Van Nieuwenhuise. "You can keep the brakes on and everyone arrives alive." Even if BP stops the gusher, as everyone hopes, says Bryan Walsh in Time, the criticism of BP won't be capped: "Expect critics to question why BP didn't try this procedure from the beginning, rather than exhausting the full supply — top hat, top kill, bottom kill, junk shot — of deepwater drilling terminology." Here's a video about the capping procedure:

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