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BP well finally killed at bottom of Gulf

September 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
BP's blown-out oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has finally been killed once and for all.The well was sealed by a permanent cement plug nearly 2.5 miles below the sea floor in the Gulf, five months after the deadly April explosion sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point man on the disaster, said Sunday BP's well "is effectively dead."

A final pressure test to ensure the cement plug would hold was completed successfully at 5:54 a.m. CDT. Allen also said that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement has confirmed that the cementing operation was successful.

"Additional regulatory steps will be undertaken but we can now state definitively that the Macondo Well poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico," Allen said.

The gushing well was contained in mid-July after a temporary cap was successfully affixed on top of the well. Mud and cement were later pumped down through the top of the well, which allowed the temporary cap to be removed.

However, the well was not declared dead at that point because a relief well needed to be drilled so that the ruptured well could be sealed form the bottom to ensure it never causes a problem again.

The relief well intersected the blown-out well Thursday, and crews started pumping in the cement on Friday.

The April 20 blast killed 11 workers, and 206 million gallons of oil spewed.

Latest developments:

  • The massive oil spill caused an environmental and economic nightmare for those who live and work along the Gulf shoreline from Florida to Texas. The disaster also sparked civil and criminal investigations, cost BP chief Tony Hayward his job and brought increased scrutiny of the oil industry.
  • The disaster also has taken a toll on the once mighty oil giant BP PLC. The British company's stock price took a nosedive after the explosion, though it has recovered somewhat. Owners of BP-branded gas stations in the U.S. were hit with lost sales, as customers protested at the pump.
  • BP has paid more than $8 million in cleanup costs and has promised to set aside another $20 billion for a victims' compensation fund. The oil giant could also face tens of billions of dollars more in fines from the government and legal costs from hundreds of pending lawsuits.
  • BP was a majority owner of the well that blew out, and it was leasing the rig that exploded from owner Transocean Ltd.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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