Oil giant BP has hit a snag in its efforts to trap oil at a blown out Gulf of Mexico well.
Ice-like crystals known as hydrates have formed inside the four-storey concrete and steel dome it has lowered down to the point of the leak.
It is expected to take two days to resolve the problem.
Doug Suttles, BP Chief Operating Officer, explained:
“A hydrate is actually when gas combines with water under certain pressures and temperatures that forms a crystal very similar to ice. What happened is we were placing the dome over the leak source. A large volume of hydrates formed inside of the top of the dome, requiring us to move the dome to the side of the leak point.”
Meanwhile, good weather has allowed US authorities to resume the intentional burning of some of the oil that has already reached the surface.
The spill is a potential economic and ecological disaster, threatening marine life and the delicate ecosystem of areas like the Bayou.