National Geographic News
May 15, 2010
Last week the joint federal-industry task force charged with managing the spill tried unsuccessfully to lower a 93-ton containment dome (pictures) over one of three ruptures in the rig’s downed pipe.
Crystals of methane hydrates in the freezing depths clogged an opening on the box, preventing it from funneling the spouting oil up to a waiting ship.
Yesterday a smaller dome was laid on the seafloor near the faulty well, and officials will attempt to install the structure later this week.
But such recovery operations have never been done before in the extreme deep-sea environment around the wellhead, noted Matthew Simmons, retired chair of the energy-industry investment banking firm Simmons & Company International.