BP and federal officials expect to begin a static kill operation on the runaway Gulf of Mexico oil well on Monday, Aug. 2, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said in a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on Monday afternoon.
Officials will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week preparing the well, and Wednesday through Saturday or Sunday running casing pipe in the primary relief well.
The static kill is a procedure in which mud is pumped into the well from the top in an attempt to overcome the flow of oil. A bottom kill operation, where BP would attempt to permanently shut down the well from its bottom using the relief well, could begin five days after the static kill starts, Allen said.
Pressure in BP’s runaway oil well stands at just above 6,900 pounds per square inch and continues to rise slowly, Allen said.
Climbing pressure is an indication that the well remains intact.
In addition to pressure in the well, BP and federal officials have been monitoring the temperature and a number of other aspects of the well. “We’ve been very very focused on getting better seismic and acoustic information,” Allen said.
Allen said two flights over the coast Sunday indicated that the amount of oil that is present appears to be shrinking.
“There is diminished oil out there because of the lack of discharge since we capped the well,” he said.
Allen also said skimming operations at the site have increased. There are now 794 skimming vessels at work at the site, a significant increase from several weeks ago, he said.
Oil could keep coming ashore for weeks even though BP could permanently shut down the well in the next two weeks, Allen said.
“Our goal would be to keep as much of it off the beaches as we can,” Allen said.
There are “hundreds of thousands of patches of oil” in the Gulf as a result of the BP oil spill, Allen said.
Allen said the shoreline could continue to be affected by the spill for four to six weeks.
“We need to be prepared to deal with it,” Allen said.
Tarballs and other effects could be present for a “long, long time,” he said.
“The ultimate impact of the spill, the amount of tarballs, will be the subject of long-term surveillance.” the retired Coast Guard admiral said.