BP plugs well, 75% of oil gone

Last Updated: Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 00:04

The Gulf of Mexico: An end to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was in sight Wednesday as BP moved closer to permanently sealing its runaway well and US officials said three-quarters of the toxic crude was now gone.

The first part of BP`s long-awaited "static kill" was conducted overnight as heavy drilling fluid was rammed into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.
"The MC252 well appears to have reached a static condition -- a significant milestone," BP said. "The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, the desired outcome of the static kill procedure."

The breakthrough came 106 days after a devastating explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20 killed 11 workers and unleashed a torrent of oil into the Gulf.

President Barack Obama welcomed news that the vast majority of the spilled oil had been dispersed or removed and that the static kill efforts "appear to be working."

"So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. And we are very pleased with that," Obama said. "Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that`s been done."

Now officials must decide whether to permanently seal the reservoir with cement right away or wait until a relief well is finished mid-August -- this will depend on whether there are any leaks in the steel casing of the well.

The best case scenario could see the well put permanently out of action in days, although the "bottom kill" will still be performed through a relief well by the end of month to cement in the outer well bore and make sure of success.

At 4.9 million barrels, the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record. It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich US Gulf coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region`s future.

About three-quarters of that oil has been cleaned up or dispersed through natural processes, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior.

About three-quarters of that oil has been cleaned up or dispersed through natural processes, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior.

"But some of it may come onshore, as weathered tar balls. And those will be cleaned up. They can be cleaned up. And we will make sure they are cleaned up."

The fishing industry is in talks with BP on ways to help fishermen and seafood plant owners weather what is expected to be a long road to recovery.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 00:04

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