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Sep 17, 2010 3:54 PM

Crews Started Pumping Cement into Blown-Out Well

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Crews started pumping cement Friday deep
under the seafloor to permanently plug BP's blown-out well in the
Gulf of Mexico.
A BP spokesman said there no longer was a need to use mud in
tandem with the cement because pressure from the well wasn't an
issue.
BP expects the well to be completely sealed on Saturday. The
government had previously said it expected the well to be declared
dead by Sunday, but on Friday the Coast Guard indicated the
culmination was likely to be Saturday.
Cement began flowing at 1:30 p.m. CDT. It was expected to flow
for several hours and then take up to 24 hours to set, according to
BP.
The pumping of cement followed the successful intersection late
Thursday between a relief well drilled nearly 2.5 miles beneath the
floor of the Gulf and the blown-out well.
An April 20 explosion killed 11 workers, sank a drilling rig and
led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
"I am ready for that cigar now," John Wright, who led the team
drilling the relief well, said in an e-mail Friday to The
Associated Press from aboard the Development Driller III vessel.
Wright, who is not a BP employee but is working on a contract
basis, had told the AP in August that he was looking forward to
finishing his mission and celebrating with a cigar, a dinner party
with his crew and a trip somewhere quiet to unwind with his wife.
He has never missed his target over the years, with this relief
well being the 41st he's successfully drilled.
The gusher was contained in mid-July after a temporary cap was
successfully fitted atop the well. Mud and cement were later pushed
down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed.
But the blown-out well cannot be declared dead until it is sealed
from the bottom.
The blast sank the Deepwater Horizon rig and triggered the spill
that eventually spewed 206 million gallons of oil from the well. BP
PLC is a majority owner of the well and was leasing the rig from
owner Transocean Ltd.
The disaster caused an environmental and economic nightmare for
people who live, work and play along hundreds of miles of Gulf
shoreline from Florida to Texas. It also spurred civil and criminal
investigations, cost gaffe-prone BP chief Tony Hayward his job and
brought increased governmental scrutiny of the oil and gas
industry, including a costly moratorium on deepwater offshore
drilling that is still in place.
Gulf residents will be feeling the pain for years to come. There
is still plenty of oil in the water, and some continues to wash up
on shore.
Many people are still struggling to make ends meet with some
waters still closed to fishing. Shrimpers who are allowed to fish
are finding it difficult to sell their catch because of the
perception - largely from people outside the region - that the
seafood is not safe to eat. Tourism along the Gulf has taken a hit.
BP took some of the blame for the Gulf oil disaster in an
internal report issued earlier this month, acknowledging among
other things that it misinterpreted a key pressure test of the
well. But in a possible preview of its legal strategy, it also
pointed the finger at its partners on the doomed rig.

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