HOOVER, Ala. — BP PLC does not plan to use the well responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history — or the underground reservoir of crude it tapped — for future drilling, the company’s incoming CEO said.
“The well will be capped, and nobody will ever want to go near that well again, and there are no plans to develop that Macondo structure field,” said Bob Dudley, who spent part of his childhood in Mississippi.
Speaking to reporters today at the Southern Governors’ Association’s 2010 Annual Meeting, Dudley said the extent of the disaster has been a “shock” that will force BP and the oil industry as a whole to re-evaluate their practices.
“What we need to do now as a company is go back and fundamentally look at deepwater drilling …and assure that we can drill safely again. I believe we can, but we need to rethink many, many things.”
Dudley said that he expects the failed blowout preventer to be removed from the Macondo well and aboard a ship on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico by Monday or Tuesday.
The device was designed to prevent such leaks from occurring.
The “bottom kill” executed through a relief well dug thousands of feet below the ocean floor — long heralded as the permanent solution to the leak — is within less than a week of starting, he added.
Dudley said that some engineers had expressed concerns that completing the relief well could restart the leak, which has been plugged since a cap was secured on the well in July. A static kill, completed early this month, is believed to have choked off the flow of oil and sealed the gusher with cement.
Dudley said that with a new blowout preventer on the well, the risk of a renewed leak will be minimized.
He added that there are several reasons for the relief well to be completed, including demonstrating that the difficult procedure can be done, providing more scientific data about the leak and giving closure to an oil-weary public.
The relief well “is going to happen,” Dudley said.
Dudley, who currently heads the company’s Gulf Coast Restoration operations, is scheduled to take over the company October 1.
He said that having spent time as a child in Hattiesburg, Miss., the spill is personal for him.
“Most of my growing-up memories of summers were on the Gulf Coast, spending time often (on) Ship Island,” Dudley said.
“When it happened, I could just visualize it, and I did. I had these images of — which has not turned out to be right — but I did have these images of (Exxon) Valdez oil coming up around the barrier islands,” he said. “I just thought, oh this is going to be a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Dudley noted that one-third of BP’s U.S. employees work around the Gulf Coast, so such personal concern exists throughout the company.