Video: BP seeks approval for 'static kill'

  1. Transcript of: BP seeks approval for 'static kill'

    WILLIAMS: Good evening.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Any day without those clouds of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is a good day, if you don't count the three month supply of oil already in the water. But as we've been saying, this cap on the well isn't permanent. That solution is still a ways off. When another source of oil was discovered nearby, BP said today that was another old well, they believe. And we've learned in the last 24 hours they're at least considering another method of killing the big well . This one, of course, with a new name. Tying it all together for us tonight, starting us off, NBC 's Anne Thompson in Venice , Louisiana , yet again. Anne , good evening.

    ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Good evening, Brian . The pressure is creeping up very slowly inside that cap, and so the government gave an OK for another 24 hours of testing to try to get more information about just exactly what the condition of the well is. This as BP proposed yet another plan to try and stop the flow of oil. In and around the sealing cap holding back the crude, there are five leaks. This afternoon, national incident commander Thad Allen described them as drips.

    Admiral THAD ALLEN: We found nothing that would be consequential towards the integrity of the well head today.

    THOMPSON: The mystery of that seepage discovered two miles from the troubled well head is solved. Officials say the source is not BP 's well, but a different well in the area. As the relief well nears its target, BP wants to try a different kind of top kill, called static kill.

    Adm. ALLEN: The static kill discussions are ongoing right now, and we'll probably have a good idea over the next 24 hours exactly what the detailed plan by BP would be to do that.

    THOMPSON: BP wants to pump drilling mud through the blowout preventer with the sealing cap closed to send the oil back under ground. To do that, it needs the government's approval.

    Mr. KENT WELLS (Senior Vice President, BP North America): If it's approved to do so, it's a 100 percent chance we'll go ahead with it. I think we'll have covered all of the risk analysis, all of the issues with the procedures and stuff.

    THOMPSON: Today Louisiana 's governor flew over the leak site. Though the work on the well may be nearing an end, Bobby Jindal says the cleanup work along the coast is in many ways just beginning.

    Governor BOBBY JINDAL (Republican, Louisiana): Even best case scenario, there's tens of millions of gallons of oil still in that water, even if another drop doesn't spill from the well site.

    THOMPSON: Now, BP 's bill for the cleanup is almost $4 billion and growing, so today BP sold assets in the United States , Canada and Egypt to the Apache Corporation for some $7 billion. Brian :

    WILLIAMS: Anne Thompson starting us off from Louisiana tonight. Anne , thanks.

updated 7/20/2010 8:17:00 PM ET 2010-07-21T00:17:00

The government's oil spill chief tried to tamp down fears Tuesday that BP's capped well is buckling under the pressure, saying that seepage detected along the sea floor less than two miles away is coming from an older well no longer in production.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen also said at least five leaks have been discovered around the well machinery, but he dismissed them as "very small drips" — "not unlike an oil leak you might have in your car."

Over the past few days, since a 75-ton cap was placed over the mile-deep well to keep the oil bottled up inside, BP and government engineers have been watching closely to see whether the well would hold tight or show signs of rupturing under the pressure. A rupture could cause a bigger and harder-to-control disaster.

Allen has granted BP repeated 24-hour extensions to keep the cap in place, as long as the company monitors the well scrupulously.

Relief well on track
Meanwhile, the end game in the three-month crisis appeared to be drawing closer, with BP vice president Kent Wells saying the drilling of the relief well — necessary to permanently plug up the well — is on track. He said crews hope to drill sideways into the blown-out well and intercept it at the end of July.

At that point, they will begin the kill procedure — pumping mud and cement into the hole deep underground to seal it up once and for all. BP said that stage could take anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.

"Everything's looking good," Wells said. "The relief well is exactly where we want it. It's pointed in the right direction, and so we're feeling good about that."

BP wants to leave the cap on in the meantime. At one point, Allen wanted instead to relieve the pressure by opening up the cap and siphoning oil up to ships on the surface, but he has relented in the past few days. Opening up the cap would have required allowing millions of gallons to gush into the sea again for a few days while the plumbing was hooked up.

In the meantime, engineers are considering shooting drilling mud down through the cap to increase the chances that the attempt to kill the well deep underground will succeed.

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Seepage from older well
The seepage detected from the sea floor briefly raised fears that the well was in danger. But Allen said another well is to blame. The seepage is closer to the older well than to the one that blew out, Allen said. Also, he said, "it's not unusual to have seepage around the old wells."

There are two wells within two miles of BP's blowout off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. One has been abandoned and another is not in production. Around 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf aren't checked for leaks, an Associated Press investigation showed this month.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and touching off one of America's worst environmental crises. The well has spewed somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons into the Gulf. BP said the cost of dealing with the spill has now reached nearly $4 billion.

In other spill-related developments Tuesday:

  • Meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, British Prime Minister David Cameron turned down a request for a new investigation into Scotland's release of a man convicted in the 1988 bombing of a jetliner over Lockerbie. BP has disputed allegations that it pressed for the man's release because it was seeking access to Libya's oil fields.
  • BP said it is selling some oil fields and other major holdings in the U.S., Canada and Egypt to Apache Corp. for $7 billion to help cover the costs of the oil spill. Some or all of the proceeds will go toward a $20 billion victims compensation fund that BP agreed to last month under pressure from the Obama administration.
  • At a hearing in suburban New Orleans, one of the ill-fated rig's drilling supervisors told Coast Guard investigators that the rig's crew didn't stop drilling or properly notify regulators when a hydraulic leak was discovered in a critical safety device weeks before the blast. Well site leader Ronald Sepulvado testified that he and others aboard the rig believed the leak wouldn't prevent the device, called a blowout preventer, from functioning properly.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Month 4

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  1. The Blue Dolphin, left, and the HOS Centerline, the ships supplying the mud for the static kill operation on the Helix Q4000, are seen delivering mud through hoses at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, on Aug. 3, 2010. In the background is the Development Driller III, which is drilling the primary relief well. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Eddie Forsythe and Don Rorabough dump a box of blue crabs onto a sorting table at B.K. Seafood in Yscloskey, La., on Aug. 3, 2010. The crabs were caught by fisherman Garet Mones. Commercial and recreational fishing has resumed, with some restrictions in areas that were closed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Chuck Cook / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sea turtle hatchlings that emerged from eggs gathered on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida are released at Playalinda Beach on the Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville, Fla., on Aug. 2, 2010. The sea turtles were born at a Kennedy Space Center incubation site, where thousands of eggs collected from Florida and Alabama beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have been sent. (Craig Rubadoux / Florida Today via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A crab, covered with oil, walks along an oil absorbent boom near roso-cane reeds at the South Pass of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on Aug. 1, 2010. BP is testing the well to see if it can withstand a "static kill" which would close the well permanently. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A boat motors through a sunset oil sheen off East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay on the La. coast, on the evening of July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Oil approaches a line of barges and boom positioned to protect East Grand Terre Island, partially seen at top right, on July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen near an unprotected island in the Gulf of Mexico near Timbalier Bay, off the coast of Louisiana on Wednesday, July 28. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Greenpeace activists stand outside a BP gas station in London, England, on July 27 after they put up a fence to cut off access. Several dozen BP stations in London were temporarily shut down to protest the Gulf spill. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. James Wilson sells T-shirts to those arriving in Grand Isle, La., for the music festival Island Aid 2010 on July 24. (Dave Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Activists covered in food coloring made to look like oil protest BP's Gulf oil spill in Mexico City on July 22. The sign at far left reads in Spanish "Petroleum kills animals." (Alexandre Meneghini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. People in Lafayette, La., wear "Keep Drilling" tee shirts at the "Rally for Economic Survival" opposing the federal ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, July 21. Supporters at the rally want President Obama to lift the moratorium immediately to protect Louisiana's jobs and economy. (Ann Heisenfelt / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A flock of white ibis lift off from marsh grass on Dry Bread Island in St. Bernard Parish, La., July 21. Crews found about 130 dead birds and 15 live birds affected by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on July 19 in the eastern part of the parish behind the Chandeleur Islands. (Patrick Semansky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21 in Washington, D.C. The hearing was to examine the claim process for victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An American white pelican has its wings checked during a physical examination at Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Hospital by Michael Adkesson and Michael O’Neill on July 21. The bird, along with four other pelicans, was rescued from the Gulf Coast oil spill and will be placed on permanent exhibit at the zoo. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Native people of the Gwich'in Nation form a human banner on the banks of the Porcupine River near Ft. Yukon, Alaska July 21, in regard to the BP oil spill with a message to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development. The images include a Porcupine caribou antler and a threatened Yukon River Salmon. (Camila Roy / Spectral Q via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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