NEW ORLEANS — BP plugged its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico with cement Thursday, one of the final steps in permanently sealing the gusher at the center of the worst U.S. environmental disaster on record.
“This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment,” Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters.
In a long-awaited breakthrough, BP brought the well under control Wednesday after pumping heavy drilling fluid into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.
The British energy giant then began pumping cement at 10:15 a.m. EDT, and the “static kill” operation was completed in five hours.
“Monitoring of the well is underway in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure,” BP said in a statement.
The final phase will involve pumping mud and cement through a relief well into the outer ring, or annulus, of the well, and possibly into the well casing.