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BP forced to halt critical test

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Sheila McNulty
Financial Times
July 15, 2010

BP on Thursday had to call a temporary halt to a crucial test of its leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, after a leak in one of the lines attached to a valve designed to cut off the flow of oil.

The company said on Thursday the test, which began on Wednesday only after approval from the US government, would re-start once the leak had been repaired amid fears that the procedure could complicate the efforts to end the three-month environmental crisis.

In theory the pressure test will pave the way for valves on top of the well to be shut off, possibly halting the oil flow for the first time.

The go-ahead for the tests from the White House followed a 24-hour delay prompted by fears that the procedure could lead to a blow-out beneath the seabed. The concerns were raised in a meeting between Stephen Chu, US energy secretary, and his scientific team. BP, aware of the concerns, is expected to move slowly with the process.

Barack Obama, US president, and his cabinet were briefed about the decision to proceed on Wednesday before BP was given the approval to go on with tests that will indicate if the procedure will work.

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This article was posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 4:16 am

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