BP Plc may permanently shut the well that caused the worst off-shore oil spill in US history as early as Monday, the company said as speculation grew over assets it might sell to cover mounting costs.
Incoming BP chief executive, Bob Dudley, said on Wednesday the company would stay involved with the cleanup process in the Gulf of Mexico long after the leaking well was plugged and expressed optimism the damaged environment would recover.
“It is possible that as early as Monday or Tuesday this well might be killed,” Dudley said on National Public Radio.
“There’s no precision, there’s nothing guaranteed. I’m hopeful and I do believe we’ve seen the end of oil flowing into the Gulf,” he added. A so-called “static kill” operation that involves pumping drilling mud and cement into the well from the top will be attempted early next week, but a relief well to intercept the ruptured one is seen as the ultimate solution for the leak, which has been temporarily sealed for almost two weeks. The relief well should be completed by mid-August. The US government remains cautiously optimistic. The top official overseeing the spill response said on Wednesday he was confident a relief well preceded by the static kill would plug the leak for good.
Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen would not go so far as saying the next steps are foolproof, but he said at a briefing in New Orleans, “We are optimistic that we will get this thing done.”
One hundred days after a rig explosion killed 11 workers and opened up an oil-spewing gash on the sea floor, criminal and civil investigations were examining whether BP and other companies involved misled both regulators and investors. “The investigation is ongoing ... there will be a criminal inquiry as well as civil investigation and it involves more than simply BP,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in Cairo.
BP has said the US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have launched a probe into market trading connected to the spill. The Washington Post said a “BP Squad” made up of several government agencies was conducting a criminal probe although it could be more than a year before any charges are filed.