New Orleans, La. – Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says he's not ready to declare the well dead just yet.
"I think we can all breathe a little easier regarding the potential that we'll have oil in the Gulf ever again. But we need to ensure the people of the Gulf and the people of the United States that this thing is properly finished and that will be through the bottom. Now how long it takes depends on when the cementing is done."
New Orleans, La. – The report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says about a quarter of the oil that spilled remains in the Gulf. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco says most has dissolved naturally or with the use of chemical dispersants.
New Orleans, La. – Heavy mud will be pumped one barrel at a time every minute, then two barrels, then three while engineers monitor pressure inside the cap that's been holding back the oil since mid-July. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says cement could complete the procedure, depending on the condition of lines supporting the well itself.
New Orleans, La. – A major unknown is whether the mud can push the oil back directly down the well and into the undersea reservoir. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says pressure readings will be closely watched as each barrel of mud makes its way into the containment cap at the wellhead.
New Orleans, La. – Heavy mud will be pumped slowly into the well early this week. The process called a static kill would stop if the pressure gets too high. But Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says he's confident the well can handle the strain.
"That could result in us filling the entire well up, bringing the pressure to zero. And if that's the case, then we've taken away about half the job that we will need to do from the bottom."
New Orleans, La. – The first of two steps is called a static kill, which Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says should begin Monday night or Tuesday morning.
"The static kill is not the end-all be-all. In fact kill' may even be a misnomer. What we're really doing is, we're going to be conducting a static test and see if the well can have mud pumped in at a very low rate."
New Orleans, La. – Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says operations will be delayed a day or so. Debris was found inside the relief well that's set to plug the broken well with mud and cement.
"Some of the sediment around the sidewall just kind of fell in on itself. If you can imagine if you drilled a hole and did not put a pipe down to reinforce it. We had about 40 feet of where it just - it settled in on itself. It's not a huge problem."