BP Plc plans to bring a new blowout preventer to its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, site of a record oil spill, as it awaits instructions from U.S. officials on how to proceed with final plugging.
BP and the Obama administration haven’t decided yet how to drill the last 50 feet (15 meters) of the relief well that will allow the London-based company to pump mud and cement into the bottom of Macondo, National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters today on a conference call.
U.S. officials delayed the so-called bottom-kill procedure on concern that 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the well may leak out when additional material is injected through the relief well. The well leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil before BP sealed it from above on July 15. The spill began after an April 20 drilling-rig explosion that killed 11 workers.
Tests and discussions continue. Allen ordered BP to bring to the site another blowout preventer, equipment mounted to the top of the well near the seafloor to cut off any new surge of oil or natural gas. The blowout preventer will replace existing equipment either before or after the bottom kill, Allen said.
The new preventer, an assembly of valves atop the well, will be taken from the vessel that had been drilling a second relief well, which was previously suspended, Allen said.
He declined to say when he will make a decision about permanently killing the well, which BP plugged with mud and cement from the top earlier this month.