HOUSTON — For the first time in the nearly 100 days since the start of the BP oil spill, officials have announced a hard date for finally killing the busted well: Aug. 7.
It's still an estimate, but the timetable set out Monday by National Incident Commander Thad Allen was pretty specific: Preparations this week to finish reaching the busted well via a relief well, then plugging the top of the busted well next Monday with cement and drilling mud in what's called a "static kill".
Five days later, Allen told reporters, a "bottom kill" should begin that — hopefully — ensures the well never leaks again.
The well now remains capped, having shut in all oil flow since July 15, but that containment system is only temporary.
Here's an explanation of BP's next steps, according to Allen and Kent Wells, BP's senior vice president of exploration and production:
The relief wells
A rig that has been drilling the first of two relief wells has reconnected its piping after shutting down operations due to Tropical Storm Bonnie. A plug that had been placed in the well to keep it stable is being removed, and the well will be cleaned.
BP will then insert and cement in place the last piece of pipe, called casing, at the bottom of the relief well prior to boring into the busted well
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