Deepwater Horizon: Gas Hydrates Create Setback

During a Saturday afternoon press conference, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles reported that gas hydrates had accumulated inside the containment dome.

The ice crystals blocked the opening at the top of the massive concrete and steel structure and made it buoyant. The cofferdam is designed to funnel escaping crude oil into a riser system linked to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship nearly 5,000 feet above.

BP reported that the four-story structure was moved away from the leaking wellhead, allowing experts to consider their options. BP and U.S. Coast Guard officials for days have emphasized the experimental nature of the approach, which had never been attempted at such an extreme depth.