Overnight, robots had worked on a leak that was discovered after two of the three valves on the cap that can open or shut the device had been closed. It was the second delay in 48 hours.
According to BP PLC vice president /*Kent Wells*/, the overnight leak in a pipe on the side of the towering, 75-ton capping stack was fixed by replacing the assembly, called a "choke line."
/*BP*/ slowly closed three valves, checking the pressure every 12 seconds, with progress reports every six hours.
Wells had warned that the process of getting ready and then choking the /*oil*/ a mile below the sea, at a depth only submarine robots can reach, consisted of many precise, individual steps.
The cap remains a temporary fix, he said, until one of two relief wells BP is drilling can reach the gusher underground and plug it permanently with heavy drilling mud and cement.
With the leaking pipe replaced, BP had to start from a few steps back to resume preparations for the test.
Preparations included letting more oil pour out of the cap temporarily and turning off a pipe that had been sending some of the oil to a collection ship, so that the full force of all the erupting crude would go into the cap. Engineers also had to recheck equipment and move undersea robots that perform the work back into position.
- In shelters across southern Louisiana are unnoticed victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill - abandoned animals. The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says several parishes began reporting an increase in abandonments immediately after the April 20 explosion of the /*Deepwater Horizon*/ oil rig. In St. Bernard Parish, the animal shelter is now double-bunking not just stray mutts, but healthy purebred dogs whose owners suddenly lack the time or the money to care for them.
- A House panel has approved legislation that would overhaul the government agency responsible for regulating offshore drilling. The bill would divide the agency into three parts: one for leasing and permitting; another for inspections and investigations; and a third to collect revenue. It also seeks to clamp down on the revolving door between government and industry by adding a two-year ban on offshore drilling regulators taking jobs with certain companies.
- The $20 billion that BP has set aside to pay for losses caused by the Gulf oil spill will start making payments in early August. /*Ken Feinberg*/, who is in charge of paying individuals and private businesses for their lost income, told a meeting of government officials in Louisiana on Thursday that he expected a seamless transition from BP management to his administration. The fund has not been tapped yet, but Feinberg said by the end of the first week of August his group would be ready to make payments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.