BP’s “static kill” procedure to plug its blown oil well appears to have been successful. Now cement will follow the heavy mud and be poured down the throat of the ruptured gusher.
Pipes attached to ships a mile above the sea bed will force down the mixture until the ultimate solution: drilling a relief well to cut off the oil below the sea floor.
The good news was a welcome birthday gift for President Obama whose handling of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has been criticised.
But as National Incident Commander Thad Allen explained, the battle to contain the worst US spill in history has not yet reached its end game.
“We want to reassure the people in the Gulf Coast and the people of the nation that this is just one phase of what you have to do when you have an oil spill. It is not just the on-the-water and the beach cleanup. It has to do with the long-term environmental damage. There is still a lot of work to do but the nature of the work will change,” said Allen.
Although around five million barrels of oil have leaked from the well since April, US government scientists claim about 50 per cent of it has now been captured, evaporated, burned or skimmed. While another quarter has been naturally or chemically dispersed.