NEW ORLEANS — The delicate work of removing and replacing a cap over the gushing oil well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico began Saturday, with robotic submarines hovering around the site.
The hope is to fit a tighter dome that will funnel more oil to collection ships on the surface a mile (1.6 kilometers) above. If all goes according to plan, the tandem of the tighter cap and the surface ships could keep all the oil from polluting the fragile Gulf as soon as Monday.
"Over the next four to seven days, depending on how things go, we should get that sealing cap on. That's our plan," Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president, said Saturday as he explained the procedure.
It would be only a temporary solution to the catastrophe unleashed by a drilling rig explosion nearly 12 weeks ago. It won't plug the busted well and it remains uncertain that it will succeed.