US Government: Storm Delays Relief Well 2-3 Days

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 10, 2010

BP is delaying for two or three days its plan to completely kill a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico using a relief well due to the threat of a tropical cyclone forming in the area, the federal response commander said Tuesday.

The company was ready to start the "bottom kill" operation Thursday or Friday but the threat of the storm delayed the process for a few days, said Thad Allen, the top federal oil spill response official in a conference call. The window to permanently plug the broken well is now from Sunday to Tuesday, he said.

The spill, which resulted after a rig leased by BP burned and sank in late April, was finally capped on July 15. The company performed a so-called static kill operation last week that stopped the leak with mud and put a cement plug over the top of it. Now the company is trying to intercept the well with a relief well.

The "bottom kill" operation will resume as soon as the storm passes, Allen said. According to the National Hurricane Center, there is a high chance a weather system could become a tropical or subtropical cyclone during the next 48 hours. It said a low-pressure system located over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, a little less than 100 miles west of the southwest coast of Florida, is accompanied by a large area of showers and squalls.

Once the well is permanently plugged, the federal government will change its focus to clean-up operations and to make sure that BP maintains its commitments, Allen said.

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