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BP "bottom-kill" on Gulf well to be early Sept-Allen
WASHINGTON Aug 19 (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) (BP.N) should be conducting the operation to finally kill its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well the week of Sept. 6, the top official overseeing the spill response said on Thursday.
Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, appearing on CNN, said under the latest timeline agreed with BP, the operation to kill the well by injecting mud and cement into the bottom through a relief well should be conducted the week after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which is on Monday, Sept. 6.
"In the last 40 hours we've agreed to a sequence of actions that I'm going to direct BP to take, starting with flushing out the current blow-out preventer, actually looking for material that might cause us a problem, and actually move to put a new blow-out preventer on and then do the bottom-kill," Allen said.
"This will ensure that we can withstand any pressure that may be generated," he said. "If all that lines up, we should be looking somewhere at the week after Labor Day."
The Macondo well has been sealed for more than a month, but technical issues have hampered the effort to permanently shut it down. About two weeks ago, BP injected drilling mud and cement into the top to plug it, intending to follow up with more mud and cement injected into the bottom through a relief well.
But Allen has said BP engineers and government scientists were concerned the cement may have trapped up to 1,000 barrels of oil in the space between the well pipe and the surrounding rock layers.
They want to make sure pumping in mud and cement through the relief well will not force that oil up, where it could leak into the sea or damage a failed blowout preventer central to various investigations of the April 20 blowout.
(Washington World Desk, 202-898-8457)
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