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Gulf crews set to lift blowout preventer

Sept. 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Engineers said they hoped to have the blowout preventer that malfunctioned in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hoisted to a recovery ship by Sunday.

Crews were to start work Thursday if weather and waves permitted, USA Today said.

A blowout preventer is a safety valve at the top of a well. It is designed to stop the flow of oil if there is a problem.

"We will try to pull up the whole thing if we can," said National Incident Commander Thad Allen. He said small amounts of oil are expected to leak from the 75-ton cap that initially sealed the well July 15.

"Once that happens, the blowout preventer will be lifted [and] brought to the surface," Allen said.

BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers, and the mile-deep well leaked more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the gulf before it was plugged.

Investigators want to inspect the blowout preventer to find out why it failed.

It's possible cement from an Aug. 4 "static kill" could hold onto some of the device's pipes and robot submarines would cut it free it that happens, Allen said.

"In the best of all possible worlds, when we lift the blowout preventer it will come free with the pipe," Allen said.

Topics: Thad Allen
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