BP drilling relief well, building containment domes

by Leslie Turk

BP announced Tuesday that it began drilling a relief well to intercept the oil well that is spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico; in the meantime, the company is constructing containment domes to divert the oil to the surface for safe storage on a specialized vessel.

BP announced Tuesday that it began drilling a relief well to intercept and isolate the oil well that is spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Work on the relief well has actually been under way since Sunday. The new well, in 5,000 feet of water, aims to intercept the existing well around 13,000 feet below the seabed and permanently seal it.

The new drill site is about half a mile on the seabed from the leaking well in Mississippi Canyon block 252, and drilling is estimated to take three months.

In the meantime, construction has been completed on a containment dome, a massive 4-story structure the company plans to lower into place over one of the three leaks to capture the escaping oil and pump it to the surface. Two more domes should be completed today, and crews hope to install all three domes by the end of the week, CNN reports.

Once lowered over the leak site and connected by pipe, the canopy is designed to channel the flow of oil from the subsea to the surface where it could be processed and stored safely on board a specialist vessel. Watch a CNN video about how BP hopes these containment domes will work.

BP has also carried out a second approved trial injection of dispersants directly into the oil flow at a point close to the main leak on the seabed. The technique is intended to efficiently mix the oil and dispersant, breaking up and dispersing accumulations of oil and allowing it to degrade naturally and reduce surface impact. This innovative technique was suggested by companies across the oil industry that BP approached last week for more ideas and expertise on tackling the spill.

BP's most recent efforts come as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is stating that the oil slick appears to be drifting toward the Alabama and Florida coasts and the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana's southern tip.

Listen here to an exclusive April 30 interview with a rig survivor, "James," on The Mark Levin Show. While the show chose not to use James' real name, it did confirm that James was on the rig when it blew up. James discusses possible causes of the explosion and efforts to contain the leaks, including numerous details about the incident not yet made public.