BP to try another new approach

In another setback in the effort to
stem the flow of oil gushing from a well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico, BP
engineers said last weekend that the “top kill” technique had failed.

Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating
officer for exploration and production, said at a news conference that the
engineers would try once again to solve the problem with a containment cap and
that it could take four to seven days for the device to be in place.

The latest failure will undoubtedly
put more pressure — both politically and from the public — on the Obama
administration to take some sort of action, perhaps taking control of the
repair effort completely from BP.

President Obama issued a statement
Saturday evening on the decision to abandon the top kill.

“While we initially received
optimistic reports about the procedure, it is now clear that it has not
worked,” he said.

He said that Rear Admiral Mary E.
Landry of the Coast Guard had “directed BP to launch a new procedure whereby
the riser pipe will be cut and a containment structure fitted over the leak.”

“This approach is not without risk
and has never been attempted before at this depth,” Mr. Obama said. “That is
why it was not activated until other methods had been exhausted.”

The president continued, “We will
continue to pursue any and all responsible means of stopping this leak until
the completion of the two relief wells currently being drilled.”

For BP, the besieged British
company, the failure could mean billions of dollars of additional liabilities,
as the spill potentially worsens in the weeks and months ahead.