An end in sight: BP gets approval to begin cementing the runaway Macondo well

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The National Incident Commander gave BP approval to commence cementing operations on the runaway Macondo well in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

For comprehensive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon incident, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts under way to resolve them, visit PennEnergy's Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico special section.

A part of the static kill procedure, the process will pump cement into the well from the top. Cementing is expected to take place sometime on Thursday, August 5, 2010.

This follows a successful well injectivity test that lead to the team pumping heavy drilling fluids into the well and achieving “static condition” on the well. Hailed as a “significant milestone,” the static condition means that BP is finally able to control the pressure in the well.

Once the cement has been pumped into the well, it will be allowed to dry and harden, permanently sealing the wellbore.

“The aim of the procedure is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well, and will complement the upcoming relief well operation,” stated BP.

Drilling on the relief wells has been stopped while the injectivity test and static kill procedure is ongoing. The first relief well is positioned to perform the bottom kill on the well, which is expected to take place by mid-August.

The incident began with a blowout that caused an explosion aboard and the subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig while it was performing plugging operations on the Macondo discovery well. It’s been more than 100 days since the Mississippi Canyon 252 deepwater oil and natural gas well began uncontrollably spewing hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico.

The world has watched as BP and a team of government officials and industry experts have worked relentlessly to plug the well. Myriad subsea efforts have been deployed to wrangle the runaway well; some have been successful, others not.

Additionally, oil skimming, controlled burns and miles and miles of boom have been deployed to help contain the spill. Teams onshore have been cleaning the coast, simultaneously.

US President Obama’s administration revealed yesterday in a scientist-backed report that nearly 75 percent of the spill has been cleaned, captured or dissipated.

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