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Sep 4, 2010 11:39 AM by Chris Welty

BP Raises Blowout Preventer, Key Evidence in Probe

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - BP crews worked Saturday to slowly raise the
300-ton blowout preventer that failed to stop oil from spewing into
the Gulf of Mexico, careful not to damage or drop a key piece of
evidence in the spill investigation.
When the blowout preventer reaches the surface after its
mile-long journey, government investigators will take possession of
it and eventually examine it, hoping to gain insight into why the
device failed.
A BP PLC spokesman said in an e-mail to The Associated Press
that the 50-foot device was detached from the wellhead Friday
afternoon. Another blowout preventer had successfully been placed
on the blown-out well, the government said later.
The April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon killed 11
workers and led to 206 million gallons of oil spewing from BP's
undersea well.
Investigators know the vinlosion was triggered by a bubble of
methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill
column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and
barriers before igniting.
But they don't know exactly how or why the gas escaped. And they
don't know why the blowout preventer didn't seal the well pipe at
the sea bottom after the eruption, as it was supposed to. While the
device didn't close - or may have closed partially - hearings have
produced no clear picture of why it didn't plug the well.
Lawyers will be watching closely, as hundreds of lawsuits have
been filed over the oil spill. Future liabilities faced by a number
of corporations could be riding on what the analysis of the blowout
preventer shows.
The raising of the blowout preventer followed Thursday's removal
of a temporary cap that stopped oil from gushing into the Gulf in
mid-July. No more oil was expected to leak into the sea, but crews
were wondering by with collection vessels just in case.
The government wanted to replace the failed blowout preventer
first to deal with any pressure that is caused when a relief well has been drilling intersects the blown-out well.
Once that intersection occurs sometime after Labor Day, BP is
expected to use mud and cement to plug the blown-out well for good
from the bottom.

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