Gulf relief driller can't wait to celebrate

NEW ORLEANS John Wright said he wants to celebrate with a cigar, a dinner party with his crew and a trip somewhere quiet with his wife.

Wright has a pristine drilling record. He has never missed his target and successfully drilled 40 relief wells that were used plug leaks around the world.

/*BP*/ began work on its first and primary relief well in May, intending to permanently plug the ruptured well. Crews successfully executed a static kill, by pumping mud and cement into the top of the well.

After some back and forth about whether a bottom kill procedure would be necessary, retired /*Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen*/, suggested concluded the bottom kill will be started next weekend.

Latest Developments:

  • The /*Deepwater Horizon*/ rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and causing 206 million gallons of oil to spew from BP's well a mile beneath the surface of the /*Gulf of Mexico*/.
  • The work on the BP well has been an intense stop-and-go project, with Wright drilling only a short distance at a time so his team can then do tests to make sure he's still on target. If not, the crew adjusts the drill's trajectory before restarting.
  • To date, he and his team have drilled nearly 18,000 feet - more than three miles. The grapefruit-sized drill bit is about 50 feet from their target, which is less than half the size of a dart board. The unusual depth, the relative weakness of the rock and the high pressure in the well have made the task challenging.
  • Wright, who is not a BP employee but is working on a contract basis, is senior vice president of technology for Houston-based Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. Boots & Coots bought Wright's company in 2009, and Wright became vice president as part of the sale.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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