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Optimism That Next Steps Will Plug Gulf Leak for Good

A hundred and one days into BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the top U.S. official overseeing the spill response said Wednesday he was confident a relief well preceded by a so-called "static kill'' would plug the leak for good.

A flare burns from a drill ship recovering oil from the ruptured British Petroleum oil well over the site in the Gulf of Mexico on June 9, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana. The spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history.
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A flare burns from a drill ship recovering oil from the ruptured British Petroleum oil well over the site in the Gulf of Mexico on June 9, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana. The spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history.

While retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen would not go so far as to say the next steps are foolproof, he said at a briefing in New Orleans, "We are optimistic that we will get this thing done. This has been done before. It's not novel technology,'' he said.

Allen also said he would meet with southern Louisiana parish officials Thursday to discuss future response staffing needs. Oil has been dissipating on the water's surface since BP sealed the cap on the well two weeks ago, shrinking skim and boom needs, he said.

He said people made jobless by the spill who found work with BP on the response will still be needed to retrieve boom, test seafood for safety and monitor or clean shorelines.

"Sooner or later we're going to have to size the fleet to where it matches what our requirements are,'' Allen said. "We will have frank, open discussions about it.''

The static kill involves pumping drilling mud and cement into the Macondo well from the top. Allen said the procedure, on schedule for Monday, could start late Sunday if preparations go smoothly.

New BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley told NPR Wednesday that the static kill could plug the leak by Monday or Tuesday. But BP and Allen said the relief well remains a critical follow-up to ensure the job is done.

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