HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc will make another attempt to siphon oil from a blown-out well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday after its first attempt hit a snag, a company official said.
With crude oil gushing unchecked from its blown-out offshore well, London-based BP wants to get the siphoning tube inserted late Saturday night and operational overnight, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told reporters in Robert, Louisiana.
BP's first attempt to guide undersea robots to insert a small tube into a 21-inch (53-cm) pipe, known as a riser, ran into trouble when the metal frame that supports the siphon shifted, Suttles said.
"We did have to pull it back to surface (Friday) to make some adjustments so that we could connect it properly to the pipework," Suttles said. "We expect to begin operation of that equipment overnight tonight."
BP's frantic attempts to contain the leaking well have been stymied by the technical difficulties of working in the sea floor's cold, dark conditions.
Last week BP tried to lower a containment dome over the leak, but the 100-tonne device was rendered useless by a slush of frozen hydrocarbons that clogged it.
BP is weighing several other short-term fixes to stop or contain the leak, which is spewing an estimated 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters)) per day into the sea, including a small dome known as a "top hat" and a "junk shot" to clog the well up with loose materials like golf balls, tire fragments and rope.
If those fail, it will take BP about 90 days to drill a relief well to cap the leak.
(Reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Eric Walsh)