'Static Kill' operation a success, says BP

BP said today that its "static kill" operation to begin permanently shutting off the Gulf of Mexico oil well had been a success.

The embattled oil giant started pumping heavy mud into the well yesterday and said it had now reached a "static condition", with pressure being controlled as hoped.

The news marks the first stage in bringing to an end the worst spill in US history.

The group said it was a "significant milestone", although it will closely monitor the well to see if more mud needs to be pumped in, with aims to add in cement if the pressure remains controlled.

BP temporarily sealed the well after a tightly-fitting cap was placed over it two weeks ago.

This stopped oil gushing into the Gulf for the first time since the leak erupted on April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, killing 11 workers.

BP said the so-called static kill will pave the way for permanent closure of the well, which will be achieved using two relief wells.

The group has been drilling the relief wells since soon after the disaster struck.



Video: BP 'static kill' a success

They are expected to be completed by mid-August, when they will be used to pump further cement and mud into the well in a final phase of the operation.

"A relief well remains the ultimate solution to kill and permanently cement the well," said BP.

The US government estimates that the well leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil before being capped last month.

BP has been attacked in the US over its handling of the affair and last week confirmed under-fire boss Tony Hayward would step down in October, to be replaced by American chief Bob Dudley.

The group also revealed a 32.2 billion US dollar (£20.8 billion) blow from the spill in second-quarter figures.

BP is now facing tough sanctions in the US, with American politicians last week passing a Bill proposing to freeze the firm out of new drilling leases for seven years.

BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said the mud is holding the oil down.

The static kill - also known as bullheading - involves slowly pumping the mud from a ship down lines running to the top of the ruptured well a mile below. BP has said that may be enough by itself to seal the well.

Workers stopped pumping mud into the well after about eight hours of their "static kill" procedure and are monitoring the oil well to ensure it remains stable, BP said.

"It's a milestone," Ms Williams said. "It's a step toward the killing of the well."

The next step will be deciding whether to cement the well, she added.

To call the entire mission a success, crews working on a flotilla of vessels on a desolate patch of water need to seal off the well from two directions.

An 18,000ft relief well BP has been drilling for the past three months will be used later this month to execute a "bottom kill", in which mud and cement will be injected into the bedrock more than two miles below the sea floor to finish the job, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said.

A 75-ton cap placed on the well in July has been keeping the oil bottled up inside over the past three weeks, but is considered only a temporary measure. BP and the coast guard want to plug up the hole with a column of heavy drilling mud and cement to seal it off more securely.

Before the cap was lowered on to the well, 172 million gallons of crude flowed into the sea, unleashed by the April 20 explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 workers.

BP won't know for certain whether the static kill has succeeded until engineers can use the soon-to-be-completed relief well to check their work.

The task is becoming more urgent because peak hurricane season is drawing near, Admiral Allen said.

Tropical Storm Colin formed then dissipated far out in the Atlantic on Tuesday, but early forecasts say it will travel toward the US east coast rather than the Gulf.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits