HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc's efforts to fish out
pipe remnants inside equipment atop its blown-out Gulf of
Mexico well delayed retrieval of a failed blowout preventer,
the top official overseeing the oil spill response said
Wednesday.

"We probably took a 24- to 36-hour hit on the timeline,"
retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said.

He had said BP aimed to recover the giant stack of pipes
and valves Thursday. Operations to first retrieve pieces of
pipe inside the blowout preventer and other equipment were
taking longer than expected, he said.

That pushes blowout preventer removal to Friday or
Saturday, he said.

The blowout preventer is key evidence in criminal and civil
investigations into the cause of the April 20 blowout that
killed 11 men, sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and
sprung the world's worst offshore oil spill.

Officials want to remove it and install a replacement
before resuming drilling on a relief well that will intercept
the Macondo well, pump in mud and cement, and kill the leak for
good.

The intercept remains on track for shortly after the U.S.
Labor Day holiday on Sept. 6, Allen said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Kristen Hays, editing by Jackie Frank)