BP close to relief well breakthrough

BP has said it is close to connecting the first of two relief wells to its leaking Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil company said in a statement that the first relief well had reached a depth of 16,546 feet.

It is within 200 feet of the original blow-out well known as MC252.

BP said that both relief wells would take "approximately three months to complete from the commencement of drilling."

The first relief well has successfully located MC252 using high-tech electromagnetic and sonar ranging devices.

Once the relief well has managed to intercept the original well BP will attempt to kill the flow of oil and gas by pumping specilaised heavy fluids down the relief well.

BP said the costs of the operation and the clean up so far had risen by $300m since its last update to $2.65bn.