BP is nearing completion of a relief well to seal once and for all the Deepwater Horizon spill site in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon completion, BP will begin its “bottom kill” operation to plug the leaking well with mud and cement. The well has been provisionally sealed with a containment cap since July 15th.
“They are closing in on the last 30-40 feet,” said retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the government’s lead point person on the scene. He expects to intercept the remaining space between the well shaft and the surrounding rock “sometime before the end of the week,” depending upon the path of a developing tropical storm moving across the Florida peninsula.
Carol Browner, the energy and climate change adviser to President Obama, says approximately three-fourths of the spilled oil has been recovered from the Gulf of Mexico waters. Deliberate burning, skimming and direct recovery accounted for about 25%, while natural evaporation, dispersion and other processes took care of about 50% of the volume. The remaining oil has either congealed into tarballs, been embedded into sediment, or remains as a sheen on the water’s surface. “The good news is that the vast majority of the oil appears to be gone,” Browner said during a recent television appearance.
So far, BP has spent $6.1 billion dealing with fallout from the Gulf spill, the worst in United States history. BP has already paid $319 million in compensation to businesses and individuals that have been affected by the spill, and will likely continue to face high costs as it continues environmental cleanup operations in the afflicted region.