Washington/New Orleans : Oil company BP Plc was planning final tests Tuesday before a possible attempt to permanently seal its damaged well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
The tests were delayed late Monday but are expected Tuesday, BP said in an emailed statement.
The company hopes that the next step will be to pump mud and eventually cement into the well, which was capped July 15. The so-called static kill could begin later Tuesday, if tests results confirm that the effort is safe and likely to be effective.
Meanwhile, the latest estimates by US government scientists showed that the disaster that started with the April 20 explosion and sinking of a drilling rig has become the biggest accidental oil spill in history.
Using a broad range of data, scientific teams have refined estimates of the spill’s flow to put the rate at 62,000 barrels of oil per day, gradually declining – as the deep reservoir under the gulf was depleted – to 53,000 barrels of oil a day when it was capped.
In nearly three months, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed from the well, with BP able to collect about 800,000 barrels. The estimate exceeds a 1979 spill in Mexican waters to rank as the biggest ever.
The estimates have a range of accuracy of plus or minus 10 per cent.