Gulf Cleanup

BP Prepares to Fill Well With Cement

We could be just days away from sealing the Gulf well with cement. Or we could still be weeks away. The New York Times reports that BP engineers are preparing to inject mud and cement into the well at the beginning of next week. It's the first half of a two-pronged attempt to seal the well permanently. The procedure, called a static kill, is like the top kill attempted over Memorial Day weekend except that the well is now capped and therefore will be easier to fill with cement. Static kill will seal only the well's center pipe, while the cement pumped in through the relief well, which is about a week away from intersecting the pipe, will seal the inner pipe as well as the outer casing. If only the central pipe is leaking, static kill could seal the well; if there's a leak further down in the well, we'll have to wait for the relief well to arrive. Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, the director of petroleum geoscience programs at the University of Houston, compared the two-pronged approach to killing a vampire: “Do I use a wooden stake or a silver bullet? Either will work."