Photo: US Coast Guard, public domain.
The End of the Beginning?
The cap has held for 18 days, and now BP's technicians and engineers are doing tests to figure out if they'll be able to start pumping heavy drilling mud, and possibly cement, into the oil well. This would be the first step - called the 'static kill' - which would be followed 5 to 7 days later by the 'bottom kill', which is the injection of more mud and cement via a relief well. If these two things work, the well will be permanently sealed and that particular nightmare will finally be over (but there will be a lot left to do).
The tests involve slow injections of mud into the oil well to make sure the pumped mud will reach the oil reservoir from the column of pipes and valves that sit on top of it. If that is accomplished, BP will then begin pumping the mud, and possibly cement, into the well, an operation known as a static kill or bullheading. BP expects the tests to indicate that the static kill procedure can move forward. (source)
But until the bottom kill has succeeded, things will not be completely over, according to Admiral Thad Allen, the man in charge. So let's not count our chickens just yet...
For more info, see our Gulf Oil Spill page.
Via NYT, BBC
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