New BP delay a warning: Don't write obituary on Gulf oil spill yet
The Gulf oil spill drama is about to reach its climax: the killing of the Macondo well. But a setback Friday will delay the start of the operation until Tuesday – and shows that uncertainties still loom.
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Although officials say the whole procedure is nearly 100 percent safe and BP has "backups to the backups," there can be complicating factors.Skip to next paragraph
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With static kill, adding mud at the top to push oil back down the well involves some risk of damaging the integrity of the well. And with bottom kill, intercepting the well with the relief well is difficult. Past attempts on other blown-out wells have sometimes gone on for weeks as drillers attempt to get the right approach and angle deep in the bedrock.
Skimming efforts winding down
In other developments Friday, Allen met with local and state officials in Louisiana to discuss the plight of the Vessels of Opportunity program, which has hired out-of-work fishermen to contribute to the relief effort. With less oil in the water, it appears there will be a gap between when workers are needed and when fishing areas reopen.
This week, BP listed 1,584 vessels of opportunity working the Gulf, each of which is making about $3,000 per day plus $300 per deck hand. If relief work winds down, some of those boat captains will have to become part of the BP claims process now overseen by a federally appointed administrator, Kenneth Feinberg.
Allen adds that relief officials are now scrambling to ensure continued work for those boat captains and crews. Potential tasks include fishing missions to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration test seafood for toxicity and helping with removal and cleanup of some 11 million feet of boom laid to protect the coast against the oil spill.
Some 600 miles of beaches and marshlands have been affected by the spill, and 60,000 square miles of prime fishing grounds remain closed.
BP's new chief executive, Mississippi-born Bob Dudley, confirmed to reporters Friday that the relief effort may soon be scaled back. But with news reports increasingly suggesting that the oil spill was not as damaging as initially feared, he was careful to add: "Anyone who thinks this isn't a catastrophe must be far away from it."
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