BP hit a snag yesterday in its effort to reduce the amount of oil blasting from the remains of a broken rig into the Gulf of Mexico. BP said it was confident that its mile-long pipe would capture much of the oil flow, but engineers failed to connect two pieces of equipment a mile below the water's surface. BP's COO said one piece of equipment, called the framework, had to be brought to the surface so that adjustments could be made to where it fits with the long tube that connects to a tanker above.
The framework holds a pipe and stopper, and engineers piloting submarine robots will try to use it to plug the massive leak and send the crude through the lengthy pipe to the surface. "It's something like threading the eye of a needle. But that can be tough to do up here. And you can imagine how hard it would be to do it down there with a robot," says one professor. The tube could capture more than three-quarters of the leak—the first time BP would have captured any of the oil before it fouls the Gulf. (Read more Gulf oil spill stories.)