UPDATE 4-BP’s latest effort to plug well seen in 3-5 days

* ‘Static kill’ operation would pump mud, cement into well

* Officials say storm cost 7 to 9 days on relief well work

* Ships move back to spill site after weather interrupted
(Adds location of relief well rig)

By Anna Driver and Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, July 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Ships dealing with BP Plc’s
(BP.L: ) (BP.N: ) oil spill headed back to the site on Saturday as
a Gulf of Mexico storm weakened, and the latest operation to
plug the ruptured well may start in three to five days, the
U.S. government’s point man on the crisis said.

Even though tropical Storm Bonnie weakened to a tropical
depression, it delayed work by seven to nine days on a relief
well being drilled by BP that is intended to permanently seal
the blown-out well, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said
at a news conference.

But the “static kill” operation — intended to plug the
well by pumping heavy drilling mud and possibly cement into it
— could begin in three to five days, Allen added, while saying
this was a “rough estimate.”

“The ‘static kill’ could go very quickly,” Allen said.

BP placed a tight-fitting containment cap over the ruptured
well that on July 15 stopped — at least temporarily — the
flow of oil into the sea for the first time since the April
accident. That cap is seen as a temporary fix.

The rig drilling the relief well and other vessels at the
site of the well, located off the Louisiana coast, were moved
out of the path of the storm on Friday.

The ship drilling the relief well is now back at the
Macondo location, a spokesman for Transocean Ltd (RIGN.VX: )
(RIG.N: ), the vessel’s owner, said by email.

It will take 24 to 48 hours to put all equipment back in
place, Allen said.

BP’s well, situated a mile (1.6 km) under the ocean
surface, ruptured on April 20 in an explosion that killed 11
workers. The accident caused the worst offshore oil spill in
U.S. history, with hundreds of miles of coastline soiled by oil
while tourism and fishing businesses suffered.

INTERSECT AND SEAL

The British energy company has been drilling two relief
wells as a permanent fix to the blown-out well, which leaked
huge amounts of oil into the ocean. A relief well is intended
to intersect and finally seal the damaged well, which extends
13,000 feet (4 km) below the seabed.

The rig now has to reconnect to the relief well using
40-foot-long (12-metre) strings of riser pipe that were pulled
up and stored on the rig, Allen said.

BP has said it expects to permanently plug the ruptured
well using the relief well in mid-August.

“I think we’re probably roughly looking at least right now
seven to nine days and that could grow,” Allen said of the
delay in the work on the relief well.

Two ships, including the one that operates the undersea
robots that provide a live video feed of the wellhead, were
left at the site when the others departed due to the weather.

One of the undersea robots was able to operate throughout
the time the other ships were leaving. The pressure under the
well cap increased, and the cap continued to hold, Allen said.

BP has said the “static kill” operation would resemble BP’s
failed “top kill” effort in May with one critical difference —
this time, the well is capped.

Both involve pumping mud and cement into the well through a
hose connected to a failed blowout preventer at the seabed. But
mud shot out the top of the uncapped well during the top kill.

The cap on the wellhead should mean that mud would not
escape, BP has said.

Stock Market News

(Editing by Will Dunham and Mohammad Zargham)

UPDATE 4-BP’s latest effort to plug well seen in 3-5 days