Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government official overseeing the crisis in the Gulf, said the relief well BP has been drilling all summer long should intersect the ruptured well within 24 hours. He said mud and cement will then be pumped in, sealing the hole once and for all by Sunday.
“We are within a 96-hour window of killing the well,” Allen said nearly five months after the disaster unfolded with an explosion aboard an offshore drilling rig April 20 that killed 11 workers.
UPDATE: On Thursday Allen added, “Sometime in the next 24-hour period, we should do the well intercept. Once the well is intercepted, we’ll have to understand from the pressure differentials and the drilling fluids the nature of the annulus. Once that’s been determined decision, will be made on cement and then once it’s cemented the cement will have to adhere and be pressure tested.”
No oil has spewed into the Gulf since a temporary cap was put on the busted BP well in mid-July. Mud and cement were later pushed down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed. The relief well is being drilled 2 1/2 miles through dirt and rock beneath the sea floor so that the ruptured well can also be sealed from the bottom, ensuring it never causes a problem again.
As of Wednesday morning, crews had only 20 feet left to drill.