The second and final phase required to forever stop the flow of oil from the Macondo well is called the “bottom kill,” and that phase is currently at a standstill.  Officials on site feel that BP needs to provide additional analysis and plans to ensure no oil will be released when BP drills its relief well and pumps mud and cement to the bottom of the Macondo well to permanently kill it.

There are 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in BP’s Gulf of Mexico Macondo well after cement was poured from the top.  BP will need additional time to provide assurances about their intended method for the bottom kill. The government wants to make sure the bottom kill will take place without another release of crude.

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the top government official overseeing the Gulf Coast oil spill, said BP will get the go-ahead to finish the relief well, after a last batch of testing and planning.  The testing ensures BP is prepared to deal with the risk of excessive pressure building up in the well during the final effort to kill it, Allen told a teleconference news briefing.  The go-ahead could come by Tuesday.

BP previously expected to perform the bottom kill now.

The pause in plans for the bottom kill results from a disaagreement over different ways to undertake it.  BP could plug the well with cement from the top after injecting a layer of mud to push gas and oil back into the reservoir, or leave the mud in place, then push it up and out with cement pumped in from the bottom through the relief well.

Once drilling resumes, it will take BP about four days to reach Macondo with the relief well.  When the order to resume will come down is unclear, and depends on test results and analysis.

The Macondo well BP oil spill started after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 about 40 miles offshore Louisiana.

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