Article

It’s Plugged… Almost

| posted on August 11, 2010

By Alex Haro

After months of serious public scrutiny, plummeting stock value, and several attempts at plugging the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil giant British Petroleum has made good on its word to stop the spill.

At 9 A.M. on August 5th, cement was poured on top of the 2300 barrels of drilling mud that were already in the well. The heavy mud equalized the pressure in the reservoir and prevented any extra oil from leaking into the already oil-soaked Gulf, while the cement almost completely eliminated the chance of any more escapes. “It will virtually assure us there’s no chance of oil leaking into the environment,” said retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen in an interview.

Although the so-called “static kill” may have stopped the flow, it’s still not the final stage in the Gulf drama. The two relief wells being drilled will pump cement and drilling mud in from the bottom of the well, shutting the well for good and closing the book on this stage of one of the nation’s biggest oil spills.

In the 108 days that followed the Deepwater Horizon explosion, anywhere from 4.9 million to 8.7 million barrels of oil puked into the Gulf. If we take the low side of the estimated amount of oil in the Gulf – 4.9 million barrels – and assuming the NOAA estimate that 74% of the spill was either captured, dispersed, or naturally broken down is correct, that still leaves about 1.3 million barrels of oil in the Gulf. Even after the cleanup, the BP oil spill is still the 10th largest in history, just ahead of Italy’s MT haven disaster in the early 90s.