NEW ORLEANS — After insisting for months that a pair of costly relief wells were the only surefire way to kill the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, BP officials said Monday they may be able to do it just with lines running from a ship to the blown-out well a mile below.
As crews planned testing to determine whether to proceed with a "static kill" to pump mud and perhaps cement down the throat of the well, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said if it's successful the relief wells may not be needed, after all, to do the same weeks later from the bottom.
The primary relief well, near completion, will still be finished and could be used simply to ensure the leak is plugged, Wells said.
"Even if we were to pump the cement from the top, we will still continue on with the relief well and confirm that the well is dead," he said. Either way, "we want to end up with cement in the bottom of the hole."
Before the effort can begin, engineers must probe the broken blowout preventer with an oil-like liquid to decide whether it can handle the static kill process. They had hoped to begin the hours-long test Monday but delayed it until Tuesday after a small leak was discovered in the hydraulic control system.