BELEAGUERED oil giant BP will begin the process, known as a “static kill”, to permanently plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as this evening, as the US backlash against the company continues.
The operation, which involves the pumping of mud into the well, will force the oil back into the reservoir. BP will then complete drilling the relief well to pump mud and cement into the Macondo to permanently plug the spill source. The well has been temporarily capped since 15 July, but the danger still lurks that it will start leaking again before completion of the relief well. However. the so-called static kill will potentially shut off the well two weeks before the relief well could.
The company had hoped to have completed plugging the leak by the middle of last month, but was hampered by tropical storm Barnie.
Away from the Gulf spill there are continuing problems for BP, with calls for its American petrol stations to be re-branded amid falling sales. The distributors who control most of BP’s US forecourts say sales have dipped by as much as 40 per cent since the Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20 April. John Kleine, executive director of the BP Amoco Marketers Association, wants to see BP stations revert to Amoco, the name the firm abandoned in 1998 when it took over the US oil giant.
Some petrol station owners hope the name change will not only help ailing sales but put a halt to the instances of vandalism that have occurred since the disastrous oil spill. However, BP has ruled out a brand change in the immediate future.
BP suffered a further blow on Friday as the House of Representatives passed an amendment containing rigorous oil safety standards that could, if they became law, prevent the company from undertaking further offshore drilling. The proposal is not, however, under Senate consideration.