OIL SPILL -- July 26, 2010 at 5:08 PM EDT
BP Could Begin Final Oil Well Kill Procedure Next Week
BP could begin taking the final steps to try to kill its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as next week, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday. Allen gave the most specific timeline yet for the well kill procedure, a timeline that would have BP finishing the relief well and beginning the "bottom kill" by Aug. 7.
The company could start pumping mud and cement through the top of the well -- the so-called "static kill" -- even sooner: next Monday.
Allen has said that the static kill and the relief well are complementary and will work together to kill the well faster than the relief well could do alone. BP has released this video of senior vice president Kent Wells describing how the whole process will work.
In a press briefing Monday, Allen outlined BP's timeline from here on out.
The leak has been held at bay with a temporary cap since July 15, as work continued on the relief wells. That work was interrupted by a potential tropical storm that forced drill ships to leave the area late last week, but it resumed Sunday.
BP has been drilling two relief wells for months (a primary well and a backup well, in case the first one doesn't work). But it has suspended work on the backup well for now in order to not disturb the final stages of drilling the primary well.
According to Allen, the next steps are:
Monday, July 26 to Wednesday, July 28 -- BP is reattaching the drillship that is drilling the relief well, reconnecting the ship to its riser and drillpipe. After it's reconnected, the ship will send down a "drill string" that will pick up the plug that BP left in the well to protect it during the storm. Then they'll flush the well with fluids to make sure no dirt or sediment is left inside.
Wednesday, July 28 to Saturday, July 31 or Sunday, Aug. 1 -- BP will insert and cement into place the last 2000-foot length of pipe, called a casing, in the relief well. The cement will take eight to 12 hours to dry.
Monday, Aug. 2 -- BP will begin the static kill attempt, pumping heavy mud through the top of the sealing cap sitting atop the well.
Saturday, Aug. 7 to Monday, Aug. 9 -- Five to seven days after the static kill, BP could be ready to begin boring into the bottom of the well with the relief well drill, then begin pumping mud into the bottom of the well.
"A week after next, we have the potential to begin killing the well," Allen said.
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