A cautious BP has delayed a crucial test ahead of its planned “static kill” procedure, aimed at permanently sealing its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well.
A small hydraulic leak was discovered but engineers are hoping it will be quickly repaired allowing for the pumping of mud into the top of the well later today.
That is likely to be followed by plugging any further openings with a cement mixture from the bottom, via a relief well.
National Incident Commander, Admiral Thad Allen said: “ I think everybody would like to see this thing ended as soon as possible, but my duty as National Incident Commander is to give you my best view. It may be a little conservative, but I think we need to understand we don’t know the condition of the well until we start to put mud in it.”
Before its temporary capping two weeks ago, new estimates claim that nearly five million barrels of oil were released with just 16 per cent of them being siphoned off to vessels on the surface.
The worst oil spill in US history has been an environmental and economic nightmare for the region and even if the crude is no longer flowing, the legal and political fallout continues.