A new valve-stack system installed last night to replace the one that failed BP Plc’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has removed the threat of oil flowing into the water, the U.S. government said.
BP used the Development Driller II to install the blowout preventer, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said in a conference call. The failed blowout preventer is near the surface of the Gulf and will be taken to a facility in New Orleans for testing, a U.S. federal judge ruled yesterday.
“The well doesn’t constitute a threat to the Gulf of Mexico at this point,” Allen said, in declaring a near end to the effort to kill the well.
The equipment, which is designed to stop a surge of oil and natural gas, has been at the center of a dispute among the U.S. government and companies involved in an April 20 explosion at Macondo. The fire led to a spill that dumped more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
Federal investigators plan to look at the blowout stack to find out why it wasn’t able to prevent the explosion. The accident killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The failed equipment is about 500 feet (152 meters) below the surface as the crew works to bring it aboard a recovery ship, Allen said today.
Transocean Ltd., which leased the rig to BP, and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a partner in the well, objected to the U.S. having sole control over the blowout preventer and its testing. The companies asked a New Orleans judge to allow them to help decide what happens to the equipment and how it’s examined.
Cameron International Corp., the maker of the blowout preventer, previously lost a bid to delay removal of the equipment. The company said plans risked losing or altering material evidence, and it asked to postpone retrieval to allow photographing and recording of conditions. A delay would interfere with continuing well-control operations, the judge said in denying the motion.