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New Gulf of Mexico oil spill containment plan delayed

The latest attempt by BP to try to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has been put back by a few days. It is taking the company longer than expected to fit a new device over the leak. The new ‘top hat’ device is a smaller solution than the 125 tonne spill containment dome that was lowered onto the sea floor last week.

When fitted, the top hat will be positioned over the tear in the pipe to partially stop the leak. BP hope to stop hydrates forming in the device by pumping methanol into it to disperse the gas and water, a problem that stopped the previous spill containment device working.

When the top hat is in place, oil will be able to be pumped back to the surface, but BP still plan to lower the original containment dome over the top hat to provide a better seal. To stop hydrates building up, they plan this time to pump warm water into the structure as it is lowered.

It is estimated that the spill has already cost BP around £300m, but the total bill which may not be realised for many years has been estimated to be as high as £13.6bn.

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