New Orleans, La. – A major unknown is whether the mud can push the oil back directly down the well and into the undersea reservoir. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says pressure readings will be closely watched as each barrel of mud makes its way into the containment cap at the wellhead.
New Orleans, La. – Heavy mud will be pumped slowly into the well early this week. The process called a static kill would stop if the pressure gets too high. But Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says he's confident the well can handle the strain.
"That could result in us filling the entire well up, bringing the pressure to zero. And if that's the case, then we've taken away about half the job that we will need to do from the bottom."
New Orleans, La. – The first of two steps is called a static kill, which Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says should begin Monday night or Tuesday morning.
"The static kill is not the end-all be-all. In fact kill' may even be a misnomer. What we're really doing is, we're going to be conducting a static test and see if the well can have mud pumped in at a very low rate."
New Orleans, La. – Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says operations will be delayed a day or so. Debris was found inside the relief well that's set to plug the broken well with mud and cement.
"Some of the sediment around the sidewall just kind of fell in on itself. If you can imagine if you drilled a hole and did not put a pipe down to reinforce it. We had about 40 feet of where it just - it settled in on itself. It's not a huge problem."
New Orleans, La. – BP says 2,000 boats are contracted in its Vessels of Opportunity program that uses out-of-work fishing boats in the spill clean-up. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says even if the blown-out well is killed next month by a relief well, there are still hundreds of thousands of oil patches on the water.
New Orleans, La. – Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft says oil is getting harder to spot from flights he's taking over the Gulf. The New Orleans-area response commander says they originally thought this weekend's storm would contribute to the oil dissipating but .
"It moved through pretty quickly so it didn't have a chance to build up those high sea states. The wind really never got over 30 knots. And so what we're seeing is just the natural breakdown of this particular grade of crude oil."
New Orleans, La. – Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says plans call for strengthening the relief well, then pumping mud down through the containment cap in a procedure called a static kill. The relief well is designed to then seal it off permanently from the bottom. Allen says preparations will continue through mid-week, with timelines set for the next steps.