US & Canada

BP gets ready to drill final stretch of relief well

Deepwater Horizon rig
Image caption The Deepwater Horizon rig blast in April killed 11 people

BP is preparing to drill the final stretch of its relief well after its successful "static kill" procedure.

A ranging run - a test to help the relief well intersect with the damaged well - will be done.

Then from Saturday, drilling will be done in 30ft (9m) segments, with more ranging runs in between.

Once the relief well is finished, mud and cement will be pumped in and the damaged well will be considered permanently "killed".

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 when the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 workers. The flow was stopped on 15 July, when a cap was used to seal the top of the wellhead.

An estimated 4.9m barrels of oil leaked into the waters of the Gulf during 87 days, with only 800,000 barrels being captured.

BP has yet to be drawn about 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.

Asked if the firm would consider selling its rights, BP executive Doug Suttles said: "We just haven't thought about that.

"Clearly there is lots of oil and gas here and we will have to think about what to do with that at some point."

The firm has made it clear it will not produce oil either out of the damaged well or either of the two relief wells.

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