BP Tries the “Cut-and-Cap” Method

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BP, via Reuters Oil continued to flow as technicians attempted a repair at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in this image taken from a BP live video feed on Tuesday. (Via NYT)

The widely derided “junk shot” failed. The “top kill” approach was a flop. Enter the “cut-and-cap” method. Using giant shears, BP sliced off a riser from its still-gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well Thursday morning in an attempt to place a cap over the leak and siphon oil to tankers on the surface. During a briefing in Metairie, La., Admiral Thad Allen called this “a significant step forward,” though he cautioned that the jagged edges created by the shears would make it more difficult to seal the well tightly. From the AP:

This latest attempt to control the spill, the so-called cut-and-cap method, is considered risky because slicing away a section of the 20-inch-wide riser could remove kinks in the pipe and temporarily increase the flow of oil by as much as 20 percent. Allen said it was unclear whether the flow had increased.

“I don’t think we’ll know until the containment cap is seated on there,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

With critics hammering the President for not appearing angry enough about the disaster — this Post piece, by the way, is a good example of the preference for assessing “optics” rather than policy —  the White House announced Thursday that President Obama will visit the region again tomorrow. The New York Times‘ take on the trip:

a telling sign of how much of a distraction the oil spill has been from the president’s complicated agenda and the political risks the spill poses to his presidency. It will be the third time Mr. Obama has visited the area since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, which killed 11 workers and led to the spill, pouring an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.