Thursday: BP to Pump Cement into Well; Flooding Continues in Pakistan

BY Tom LeGro  August 5, 2010 at 9:40 AM EDT

BP plans to start pumping cement into its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, one day after achieving success with a “static kill.” BP said Wednesday it was able to force the oil down with heavy mud in a step toward plugging the well for good.

BP executives and federal officials still intend to push mud and cement into the oil reservoir feeding the well through the 18,000-foot relief well, which should be completed within weeks. A timeline has not been set for this part of the effort.

The Economist describes the work ahead, calling to mind the story of the Three Little Pigs:

“The difference [the static kill] makes is the difference between having the wolf at your door — albeit a pretty well-bolted door — and having it back in its lair on the other side of the hill, unwilling to sally forth. The cementing set to begin on Thursday will go further, by blocking up the door to the lair.

“[I]t seems likely that its surface cementing will put a solid plug into the production casing, but quite possibly not into the annulus, which means there might be a way for the wolf to wiggle out. This is one of the reasons that the relief well is still going ahead.”

Meantime, nearly 53 million gallons of oil remain in the Gulf or on its shores, according to a government report. That figure is nearly five times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. The remaining oil, much of it below the surface, remains a threat to sea life and Gulf Coast marshes. The oil, however, no longer threatens the Florida Keys or the East Coast.

That report, released Wednesday, indicates that most of the oil from the leak is no longer in the water. It is being met with skepticism from environmentalists and local officials.

Floods Continue in Pakistan

Pakistani authorities began evacuating about 500,000 people living along the Indus River in the country’s south on Thursday, as floods caused by the worst monsoon rains in decades threatened new destruction.

The floods have already killed an estimated 1,600 people over the past week, and the United Nations says 4 million people have now been affected by the country’s worst floods in nearly a century.

The BBC’s Adam Mynott reports:

“In this town in north-west Pakistan, the situation for thousands affected by the floods is grim. Nowshera took the full force of the flood waters as they came surging down the River Kabul, which runs through the centre of the town.”

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has come under intense criticism within his country for going ahead with a trip to visit European leaders this week while the catastrophe unfolds.

Fatima Bhutto, the niece of Benazir Bhutto, writes in Foreign Policy:

“While Zardari was schmoozing with his cronies in luxe London hotels, Pakistan was reeling from the deadliest floods to hit the country in 80 years. In short, it looks like Zardari’s Katrina.”

Google, Verizon Near Deal

Google and Verizon are nearing an agreement that would allow Verizon to speed online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege, reports the New York Times.

“Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.”

You can also read the Associated Press report here.

Kagan’s Day and Obama in Chicago

For your politics news, including Thursday’s vote in the Senate on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and President Obama’s day in Illinois, check out The Morning Line.