A photo blog of world events by Sacbee.com Assistant Director of Multimedia Tim Reese.
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July 16, 2010
Experimental cap stops oil flowing into the gulf
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- BP was encouraged early Friday by results from an experimental cap on its busted Gulf of Mexico well, saying everything was holding steady 17 hours into the effort. BP vice president Kent Wells said on a conference call that there was no evidence of a leak in the pipe under the sea floor, one of the main concerns. Wells spoke 17 hours after valves were shut to trap oil inside the cap, a test that could last up to 48 hours. BP finally stopped oil from spewing into the sea Thursday, for the first time since an April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and unleashed the spill 5,000 feet beneath the water's surface. But the cap is a temporary measure. Even if it holds, BP needs to plug the gusher with cement and mud deep underground, where the seal will hold more permanently than any cap from above could. (27 images)

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Rain falls on oil sheen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well leak off the coast of Louisiana Thursday, July 15, 2010. Crew members onboard the Pacific Responder oil skimming vessel prepared to skim oil this morning, but operations were put on standby after lightning was spotted nearby. AP / Patrick Semansky


June 18, 2010
Oil spill hits 60th day
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Saturday will mark 60 days since the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and beginning of one of the worst oil spills in history. On Friday, signaling a shift in strategy to fight against the ruptured well in the Gulf, the Coast Guard began ramping up efforts to capture oil closer to shore. Adm. Thad Allen said an estimated 2,000 private boats in the so-called "vessels of opportunity" program will be more closely linked through a tighter command and control structure to direct them to locations less than 50 miles offshore to skim the oil. Allen, the point man for the federal response to the spill, previously had said surface containment efforts would be concentrated much farther offshore. Estimates of the oil being siphoned from the well a mile below the Gulf are growing. Allen said more than 1.2 million gallons was sucked up to containment vessels Thursday. (28 images)

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Oil is burned and skimmed by boats near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Sunday, June 13, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. AP / Eric Gay


June 10, 2010
More images from the oil spill
GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) -- BP said Thursday it plans to boost its ability to capture the oil gushing from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico by early next week as the Obama administration announced that the oil giant agreed to speed up payments to people whose livelihoods have been washed away by the spill. At the bottom of the sea, the containment cap on the leaking well is capturing 630,000 gallons a day and pumping it to a ship at the surface, and the amount could nearly double by next week to roughly 1.17 million gallons, the Coast Guard has said. The government has estimated 600,000 to 1.2 million gallons are leaking per day, but a scientist on a task force studying the flow said the actual rate may be between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million. A second vessel expected to arrive within days should greatly increased capacity. BP also plans to bring in a tanker from the North Sea to help transport oil and an incinerator to burn off some of the crude. (29 images)

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Oil covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 9, 2010. AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb


June 3, 2010
Effects of oil spill "chilling"
METAIRIE, La. (AP) -- BP used underwater robots a mile beneath the ocean Thursday to try to put a lid on the Gulf oil gusher. Live video showed that an inverted funnel-like cap slightly wider than a severed pipe was being maneuvered into place over the oil spewing from a busted well. However, the gushing oil made it difficult to tell if the cap was fitting well. BP spokesman Toby Odone said he had no immediate information on whether the cap was successfully attached. If the cap can be put on successfully, BP will siphon the oil and gas to a tanker on the surface.
The damage to the environment was chilling on East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast, where workers found birds coated in thick, black goo. Anywhere between 21 million and 46 million gallons of oil has spewed into the Gulf, according to government estimates. (21 images)

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A brown pelican is mired in heavy oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon has affected wildlife throughout the Gulf of Mexico. AP / Charlie Riedel


May 27, 2010
Gulf oil spill worst in U.S. history
COVINGTON, La. (AP) -- An untested procedure to plug the blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico seemed to be working, officials said Thursday, but new estimates from scientists showed the spill has already surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the worst in U.S. history. A team of scientists trying to determine how much oil has been flowing since the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later found the rate was more than twice and possibly up to five times as high as previously thought. The fallout from the spill has stretched all the way to Washington, where the head of the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling resigned under pressure Thursday. Even using the most conservative estimate, the new numbers mean the leak has grown to nearly 19 million gallons over the past five weeks, surpassing the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, which at about 11 million gallons had been the nation's worst spill. Under the highest Gulf spill estimate, nearly 39 million gallons may have leaked, enough to fill 30 school gymnasiums. (29 images)

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Reporter Anderson Cooper is reflected in oil filled water during a tour of areas where oil has come ashore May 26, 2010 in Blind Bay, La. Getty Images / Win McNamee


May 5, 2010
Aerial images of the oil spill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The oil you can't see could be as bad as the oil you can. While people anxiously wait for the slick in the Gulf of Mexico to wash up along the coast, globules of oil are already falling to the bottom of the sea, where they threaten virtually every link in the ocean food chain, from plankton to fish that are on dinner tables everywhere. "The threat to the deep-sea habitat is already a done deal -- it is happening now," said Paul Montagna, a marine scientist at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of at least 200,000 gallons a day since an offshore drilling rig exploded last month and killed 11 people. On Wednesday, workers loaded a 100-ton, concrete-and-steel box the size of a four-story building onto a boat and hope to lower it to the bottom of the sea by week's end to capture some of the oil. Crews also set fires at the worst spots on the surface Wednesday to burn off oil.
Here is a look at the oil slick from an aerial perspective. (18 images)

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Shrimp boats are used to collect oil with booms in the waters of Chandeleur Sound, La., Wednesday, May 5, 2010. AP / Eric Gay


May 4, 2010
Oil lurks off the gulf coast
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Winds and waves calmed Tuesday as masses of oil lurked off the beaches and bayous of the Gulf of Mexico coastline as people watched and waited to see where the slick would finally come ashore. So far only oil sheens have reached into some coastal waters in the southeastern U.S., and the oil's slow progress despite an uncapped seafloor gusher was allowing crews and volunteers to lay boom in front of shorelines. That effort was stymied by choppy seas into the weekend but the calmer weather should help. BP PLC has been unable to shut off the undersea well spewing 200,000 gallons (757,000 liters) a day, but crews have reported progress with a new method for cutting the amount of oil that reaches the surface. They're using a remotely operated underwater vehicle to pump chemicals called dispersants into the oil as it pours from the well, to break it up before it rises. Results were encouraging but the approach is still being evaluated, BP and Coast Guard officials said. Several river boat pilots said the edge of the oil slick Monday was 15 to 20 miles (25 to 32 kilometers) off the Southwest Pass, where ships headed to New Orleans enter the Mississippi River. The latest satellite image of the slick, taken Sunday night, indicates that it has actually shrunk since last week, but that only means some of the oil has gone underwater. (23 images)

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An oil slick from the massive spill caused by the explosion of an offshore rig two weeks ago is seen near another rig off the coast of Gulfport, Miss., in the Gulf of Mexico, May 3, 2010. The latest satellite image of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico indicates it has shrunk since last week. But scientists say that only means some of the oil has gone underwater. Mississippi's Port of Gulfport is the nation's second-largest importer of green fruit. The New York Times / Michael Appleton