Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc drilled an additional 15 feet (4.6 meters) of the relief well needed to permanently seal the source of the biggest Gulf of Mexico oil spill in history.
The Macondo well, which spewed an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude after an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, was plugged by mud and cement from the top with the process known as static kill earlier this week.
“We know the static kill was a success, because when they pumped the mud in there, the pressure effectively went down to zero,” Robert MacKenzie, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co., said by phone from Arlington, Virginia, today. “The only reason they’re still drilling the relief well is because the government has asked.”
BP, based in London, is testing the cement inserted into the top of Macondo and is encouraged by early data readings, Senior Vice President Kent Wells said during a conference call with reporters today. The relief-well injection would assure the Macondo well never leaks again, Wells said.
The company temporarily plugged the gusher with a stack of valves on July 15. BP has stopped skimming for oil in the open ocean because it’s having trouble finding crude on the surface, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production, said today.
BP rose 1.95 pence to 425.35 pence at 4:35 p.m. in London trading. The shares are down 35 percent since the April explosion, which killed 11 workers.
The relief well will probably intercept Macondo between Aug. 13 and Aug. 15, Wells said. The company will resume drilling on Sunday night, after a ranging test needed to determine if the well goes in the right direction. The relief well has about another 85 feet before it reaches Macondo.
After completing the bottom kill, BP will remove the blowout preventer, which will later be used in investigations about the cause of the blast, Wells said.
The timing of the completion of the relief well will depend on the weather, as a tropical storm could delay drilling operations, BP said. Tropical Storm Colin today approached Bermuda, on a course to pass north to Canada and avoid the spill site.
“The well is dead,” Les Ply, a retired consultant to the oil industry on drilling and plugging wells, said by phone yesterday. “I don’t expect it to flow anymore.”
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