NEW YORK (
has had to remove the cap that has been collecting as much as 25,000 barrels of oil a day from the leaking under-water well. BP had reached a high point in its success using the cap to collect oil on Tuesday, when it siphoned off more than 26,000 barrels of oil.
Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen announced on Wednesday that the cap had to be removed after a submersible robot bumped into the venting system. The accident sent gas rising up through the vent, and compromised the vent's ability to keep ice crystals from forming inside the cap. Problems with previous failed attempts by BP to contain the oil spill, including its massive containment dome, were a result of the formation of ice crystals.
BP removed the cap to inspect it for ice crystal formation. BP has a second pipe siphoning off oil to a ship on the surface where it is being burned, and that is still in operation.
On Tuesday, BP flared more than 10,000 barrels of oil using the system that is still in place. However, it represents less than half of the oil being captured in BP's containment effort. The total high of more than 26,000 barrels of oil captured includes more than 16,000 barrels of oil captured using the removed cap.
BP shares were not reacting negatively to the latest setback. The cap had to be shut down once previously when lightning struck a ship on the surface onto which the oil was being siphoned. That temporary cap shutdown lasted less than a day.
On Tuesday, BP stock had slipped near its oil spill low of $29, with an intra-day low of $29.37. BP stock was hovering around the $30 mark in the early afternoon on Wednesday.
Separately, the government has been working on an idea for pipelines that could be extended from the leaking well to several production platforms in the Gulf. The idea has come to the surface of government talks as there are fears of a hurricane causing a more serious shutdown of the current cap operation.
The pipeline concept would allow oil to be contained even if the ships siphoning oil currently need to abandon the Gulf in the event of a hurricane.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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