7 Aug 2010

BP preparing to drill final stage of relief well in Gulf

10:12 am on 7 August 2010

BP is preparing to drill the final stretch of a relief well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Drilling will resume on Saturday, after a test to help the relief well intersect with the damaged well.

Afterwards, mud and cement will be pumped in and the damaged well will be considered permanently 'killed'.

The BBC reports the relief well is expected to hit the damaged well by 15 August. It is currently over 100ft vertically and 4ft horizontally from the planned intersection.

Oil leaked into the Gulf from 20 April after a fatal explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The flow was stopped on 15 July, when a cap was used to seal the top of the wellhead. A 'static kill' procedure has since been carried out.

An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters of the Gulf during the 87 days of the leak.

BP is yet to say what will happen to the oilfield after the damaged well is killed. There is still a huge amount of oil in the reservoir deep under the seabed.