BP Says 'Static Kill' Is Holding Back Flow Of Oil

BP officials say they plan to begin forcing cement down the blown-out Gulf oil well on Thursday.

The announcement came Wednesday night shortly after the energy company's plan was approved by National Incident Commander Thad Allen, the federal official in charge of the oil spill.

BP plans to shove cement down from pipes attached to ships a mile above the sea beginning Thursday. Earlier, crews were able to force down the oil with mud. Allen approved the plan, as long as it doesn't delay the ultimate solution of drilling a relief well that will cut off the leaking well far below the sea floor.

Earlier Wednesday, President Obama said he was heartened that "the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally is finally coming to an end" after BP announced hours earlier that its "static kill" had stoppered the flow of oil.

Crews began injecting heavy mud through the temporary cap and into the mile-deep well on Tuesday afternoon. After eight hours, they managed to achieve what engineers call a "static condition," in which the pressure of the mud from the surface and that of the oil pushing from the bottom are equalized.

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

Crews still have to determine whether an area between the inner piping and outer casing of the blown-out wellhead is leaking — something they say they can't answer until they drill in from the bottom later this month.

"There's a lot of reasons why there's no 'Mission Accomplished' banner," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in Washington.

"There's a lot of work to do," he said. "We're not leaving the area, and more importantly, we're not leaving behind any commitment to clean up the damage that's been done and repair and restore the Gulf."

Still, the plugging is progressing, giving officials high confidence that no more oil will leak into the Gulf, Allen said at a news briefing in Washington.

More than 200 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf after the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, according to federal estimates.
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