Battle to halt BP oil spill has almost ended

US President Barack Obama said yesterday that BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill is “close to coming to an end” after scientists agreed that three-quarters of the oil is gone and engineers successfully killed the leaking well.

“The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end,” said Obama, whose ratings in the US have been hurt by the government’s response to the Gulf disaster.

BP said it had reached a “milestone” in handling the incident, after mud pumped through the top of the well appeared to hold down pressure. BP hopes that the next phase of the static kill procedure, which will see cement pumped into the well, could seal the leak permanently.

A team of US scientists yesterday dampened fears that the spill, which was caused by the lethal 20 April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, was worse than expected after they estimated that only one-quarter of the crude remained in the water.

A report issued by the scientists said that out of the 4.9m barrels of oil that have spewed into the Gulf, one-quarter has been burnt, skimmed and recovered, while a further 25 per cent has either dissolved or evaporated. The remaining 24 per cent, said the report, had been dispersed either naturally or chemically.

Meanwhile, BP’s new chief executive Bob Dudley met with Russia’s deputy prime minister Igor Sechin to discuss possible asset sales and future projects in the region.

BP’s shares rose 1.5 per cent to 421.65p yesterday.

FAST FACTS | WHERE IS THE OIL?

25 per cent of the crude remains in the Gulf.
25 per cent has been burnt or skimmed.
25 per cent has dissolved or evaporated.
25 per cent has dispersed naturally or chemically.