BP aims to retrieve blowout preventer Thursday

HOUSTON Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:08pm EDT

Crew members look over a blowout preventer on an idle oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana August 11, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Celano

Crew members look over a blowout preventer on an idle oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana August 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Celano

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc aims to retrieve a failed blowout preventer atop its ruptured Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, the top U.S. official overseeing the oil spill response said on Monday.

But first, the company hopes to fish out a 3,500-foot (1,066-meter) drillpipe believed to be hanging in the giant stack of pipes and valves to ease the removal and replacement with another blowout preventer.

"We were looking to try and do the blowout preventer on the 26th of August, swap them out. If we have to wait another day on the pipe, that could move to the right a little bit," Allen told reporters at a briefing.

A relief well is 50 feet away from intersecting the Macondo well, 13,000 feet beneath the seabed, to pump in mud and cement and kill the leak for good.

BP wants to replace the failed blowout preventer first. It is critical evidence under subpoena in criminal and civil investigations into the April 20 blowout that led to an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 men.

A working blowout preventer atop the well would be able to better handle a jump in pressure when the relief well bores into the Macondo well, BP said.

The interception is on target for shortly after the U.S. Labor Day holiday on September 6, Allen said.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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