Mud may be pumped in well cap to help contain oil

The procedure would make it easier to complete the permanent fix of plugging from the bottom

Topics: Gulf Oil Spill,

The federal government’s spill chief is considering whether to pump heavy mud and cement through BP’s experimental well cap that’s keeping oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says Tuesday that the procedure would make it easier to complete the permanent fix of plugging the oil from the bottom of the blown out well because the oil would be smashed in from two directions.

No oil would be released.

The mechanical cap has stopped the oil since Thursday. But several leaks had caused mounting concern that the cap was displacing pressure and causing leaks deep underground.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government’s oil spill chief said Tuesday that seepage detected two miles from BP’s oil cap is coming from another well.

There are two wells within two miles of BP’s blowout, one that has been abandoned and another that is not in production.

“It’s actually closer to that facility than it is to the Macondo well,” the one that blew out, Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said at a Tuesday afternoon briefing. “The combination of that and the fact that it’s not uncommon to have seepage around these” abandoned wells is what convinced engineers that BP’s well wasn’t the source of the seepage, he said.

There around 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf, and an Associated Press investigation showed this month that they’re not checked for leaks.



Allen also says five leaks in and around the broken well are more like ‘drips’ and don’t mean the well is unstable. He’s extended testing of the experimental cap by another day, which means the oil will remain shut in.

The mechanical cap has stopped the oil since Thursday. But several leaks had caused mounting concern that the cap was displacing pressure and causing leaks deep underground.

If oil is leaking through bedrock and mud, it could cause instability in the sea floor and make the environmental disaster even worse and harder to fix.

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