A relief well drilled nearly 2.5 miles under the floor of the Gulf of Mexico has intersected BP’s blown-out well, a prelude to plugging it once and for all, the US government said.
The final seal should happen by Sunday, five months after an explosion sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history.
Data shows the two wells are joined, said government spokesman retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.
The next step will be to pump mud and cement down through the relief well to seal the ruptured well permanently from the bottom.
The gusher was contained in mid-July after a temporary cap was successfully fitted on top of the well.
Mud and cement were later pushed down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed. But the blown-out well cannot be declared dead until it is sealed from the bottom.
The 20 April blast sank the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers and triggering the spill that eventually spewed 206M gallons of oil into the Gulf. BP is a majority owner of the well and was leasing the rig from owner Transocean Ltd.
The disaster caused an environmental and economic nightmare for people living and working along hundreds of miles of Gulf shoreline from Florida to Texas.
It also spurred civil and criminal investigations, cost gaffe-prone BP chief Tony Hayward his job and brought increased governmental scrutiny of the oil and gas industry, including a costly moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling.