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Final steps to seal oil well underway


Underwater footage of the static-kill operation, Wednesday
Underwater footage of the static-kill operation, Wednesday

Jill Colton, staff writer

August 6, 2010 — BP crews are entering the final stages of the so-called 'static-kill,' by waiting for the cement to dry.

Spotting oil from the air is getting more difficult according to the Coast Guard
Spotting oil from the air is getting more difficult according to the Coast Guard

It's finally coming to an end.

One of the world's worst environmental disasters could be over soon as crews have been waiting patiently for the fresh cement to dry. They started filling the throat of the oil-well on Thursday, making it one of the last steps of the so-called 'static-kill.'

Engineers pumped enough mud down the top of the well to push the crude back to its underground source, for the first time since the oil rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and prompting the massive spill.

Once the cement oil dries, the final stage begins. This means drilling the last 30 metres of the relief well, which will then be used to seal the underground reservoir from the bottom with mud and cement.

Crews will continue to pump mud into the relief well for the next few weeks.
Crews will continue to pump mud into the relief well for the next few weeks.

However, once the crude flow stops, there's still a massive cleanup of oil from marshes and wetlands that span the Gulf Coast. Crews are still finding plenty of tar in these areas, and now it's getting trapped in the marshes by the tides.

Although there is little oil to see on the surface, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, says Admiral Paul Zukunft, the U.S. government's on-scene coordinator. On the plus side, a report this week indicated that only about a quarter of the spilled crude remains in the Gulf and is dissipating quickly. Nearly three-quarters of the 207 million gallons has been collected by the temporary containment cap, cleaned up, chemically dispersed or naturally deteriorated and evaporated.

Crews will continue to shove mud and cement through the 18,000 foot relief well, and it's expected to be completed within a few weeks.

The vast oil reservoir beneath the well could still be worth billions of dollars even after it spewed crude into the Gulf of Mexico for more than three months. However, BP insisted on Thursday, that they have no plans to use the relief wells to produce oil.

With files from The Associated Press

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