Drilling the relief well. Photo via WSJ
If all goes according to plan, the gusher behind the Gulf spill will be plugged a month earlier than planned, BP says. This, of course, is months and months after they originally said they'd have the thing plugged, but mark this down as (extremely) tentative good news. That the company is pushing to cap the geyser by July 20-27th doesn't seem like a coincidence, either -- the 27th is when the oil giant is going to make its quarterly report on its earnings. Here's the Wall Street Journal:
BP PLC is pushing to fix its runaway Gulf oil well by July 27, possibly weeks before the deadline the company is discussing publicly, in a bid to show investors it has capped its ballooning financial liabilities, according to company officials.The primary plan is still to finish off drilling the relief wells, and then to pump in materials that would seal the blown one. WSJ notes that BP hopes to have some serious progress underway by July 20th -- even capping by then, if possible -- as that's the date that the UK's new prime minister David Cameron is scheduled to visit the White House. And BP says that it is indeed a possibility that the well could be capped by then:
At the same time, BP is readying a series of backup plans in case its current operations go awry. These include connecting the rogue well to existing pipelines in two nearby underwater gas and oil fields, according to company and administration officials.
"In a perfect world with no interruptions, it's possible to be ready to stop the well between July 20 and July 27," said the head of BP's Gulf Coast restoration unit, managing director Bob Dudley, in an interview. He added that this "perfect case" is threatened by the hurricane season and is "unlikely."Of course, this probably won't happen, given nothing else but BP's track record of predictions thus far. But it does reflect the confidence of the officials to start making statements again, after a month where they knew better than to do so. The federal government is also apparently pushing BP harder to come up with more contingency plans -- "backup plans for the backup plan" one official reportedly called it, which is slightly reassuring, I suppose.
But until the thing is officially capped, of course, there's little point in putting stock in BP. Let's put it this way: You say you'll have the thing plugged in 2-3 weeks? I'll believe it when I see it.