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US hails BP oil 'success'
Obama administration says containment effort in Gulf of Mexico appears to be working.
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2010 20:40 GMT

BP says it will continue to monitor the situation in the Gulf of Mexico[AFP]

 

The White House has hailed what it called the "beginning of the end" for the worst oil spill in US history.

Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman, made the comments on Wednesday after BP announced it had reached a "significant milestone" in its attempt to plug a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It is sort of the beginning of the end of the sealing and containment phase of this operation," Gibbs told reporters.

Barack Obama, the US president, has also welcomed BP's "static kill" effort to halt the leak, saying that it appears to be working.

"The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end," he said on Wednesday.

"And we are very pleased with that. Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that's been done."

'Desired outcome'

The procedure involved pumping mud and cement into the blown-out well.

A statement released by BP on Wednesday, said: "The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, which is the desired outcome of the static kill procedure carried out yesterday".

IN DEPTH

The leak was caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, which caused it to collapse and fracture the well head. Eleven people were killed in the incident.

A US government report published on Wednesday said that nearly three quarters of the spilled crude had now been mopped up or dispersed.

US scientists said in the inter-agency report that burning, skimming and direct recovery had removed one quarter of the oil.

Another 25 per cent had naturally evaporated or dissolved, and 24 per cent had been dispersed, either naturally or chemically, the report said.

Oil remains

The rest was either on or just beneath the water's surface as "light sheen or weathered tarballs," had washed ashore or was buried in sand and sediments at the sea bottom, the scientists said.

But more than one million barrels of oil remains in the Gulf, four times the estimated 257,000 barrels that spilled into Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez tanker in 1989.

The 'static kill' operation involved injecting mud and cement into the well to seal the leak

If BP is found guilty of negligence over the spill, the flow rate of 62,000 barrels a day means it could face up to $17.6bn in fines.

The firm has also set up a $20bn fund to pay claims from individuals and businesses hit by the disaster.

Gulf fishing communities and business owners are still counting the cost of the spill, which forced the closure of large swaths of rich fishing grounds and dealt a severe blow to local tourism.

The spill is the world's largest accidental release of oil, surpassing the 1979 Ixtoc well blowout in Mexico's Bay of Campeche that spilled out almost three million barrels.

Source:
Agencies
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