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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BP Scrambles to Stabilize Stricken Oil Rig

LONDON -- BP is in a race against time to stabilize its giant Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which is tilting precariously following Hurricane Dennis, before the possible arrival of another storm.

The world's second-largest oil firm by market capitalization said Wednesday that the platform, which is listing 20 degrees -- with its lower deck almost touching the water -- had become more secure overnight.

The tilting was discovered Monday, after the facility was evacuated on Friday due to the approach of Hurricane Dennis.

BP has said it does not know what caused the problem. Vessels have been alongside Thunder Horse, which cost $1 billion and is the largest semi-submersible oil platform in the world, for 30 hours, and a team of engineers is on board, inspecting the damage.

BP said a survey by unmanned miniature submarines had not found any damage to Thunder Horse's hull.

Analysts said this suggested a problem with its ballast tanks.

The engineers' work could be hindered by Tropical Storm Emily, which is moving westward from the Atlantic.

Authorities in Caribbean nations have told residents they could soon face hurricane conditions, and the National Hurricane Center in Florida said Emily could hit the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days.

BP hopes it can solve the problem before then.

"We're watching the weather forecast," said spokesman Robert Wine in London. "We're confident that we'll have it more stable before Emily arrives."

Thunder Horse was planned to come onstream later this year and pump 250,000 barrels of oil per day at peak as well as large quantities of gas.

The project is seen as the biggest hope for a small recovery in U.S. crude production, which has been falling since the 1970s.