BP’s first attempt to contain the flow of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico failed when gas hydrates – crystals formed under the intense deepwater pressure – blocked the funnel at the top of the massive containment structure that was being lowered onto the well to contain the oil.
A vessel chartered by the Financial Times and Canadian oil spill consultants located patches of thick crude oil on a beach at the mouth of the South Pass, one of the navigable channels of the Mississippi.
The FT’s Harvey Morris describes Dec Doran, a consultant from Oil Spill Control Services, taking samples from “a saucer-sized patch of red-brown crude, the consistency of peanut butter”. Wayne Bennett, an Environmental Sentry Services consultant, estimated the oil had penetrated the sand about eight inches deep. Morris adds:
Nearby, green scum – which the consultants identified as an emulsion of oil, water and chemical dispersants – slapped against the narrow orange boom that had been strung around the Mississippi delta coast to try to stop the pollution reaching land. Some of the boom had been tangled by strong winds and high seas.