Relief well starts to close in on source of Gulf oil spill

BP is one step closer to completing the first relief well in the Gulf of Mexico, putting the embattled firm’s efforts to stem the oil spill ahead of target.

Drilling for the first of two wells came within 20 feet of the ruptured Macondo well yesterday – bringing BP closer to the leak than it has been since the 20 April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

In a technical briefing, BP’s senior vice president Kent Wells said that crews will drill a further 900 feet down before cutting in to start its attempts to stop the flow of oil altogether by pumping heavy material into the well.

This will only happen after a series of tests, which will determine the distance of the well.

A second relief well is also being drilled as a back-up should something go wrong with the first.

Despite the good news, BP continues to face a series of threats in its attempt to stem the spill as the Gulf region prepares to weather a series of storms.

Wells remained confident yesterday that an imminent tropical storm would not have an impact on the current drilling.