BP stops flow of oil into Gulf of Mexico
Oil is no longer spewing into the Gulf of Mexico -- at least temporarily -- as BP Plc said it choked off the flow from its undersea well that ruptured in April and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
BP said it stopped the leak on Thursday with the tight-sealing containment cap installed three days earlier atop its blown-out well, and awaited on Friday the results of tests on whether the well remains intact.
That's a key issue as the British energy giant moves to plug the leak permanently with a relief well intended to intersect the ruptured well -- which extends 2.5 miles under the seabed -- and seal it with mud and cement next month.
BP's U.S. shares closed up 7.6 percent on Thursday after it announced it had shut off the flow of oil from the well, and traders were eager to see if the rally would continue in Friday trading in London.
Oil had spurted from the well a mile below the ocean surface for more than three months, causing a massive oil spill that led to an economic and environmental catastrophe along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
BP, which has failed several times in its efforts to end the leak, managed to stop the flow of oil as it conducted a test in which it closed valves and vents on the containment cap.
"I think that it is a positive sign," said U.S. President Barack Obama, whose public approval ratings fell as the oil spill crisis dragged on. He cautioned that "we're still in the testing phase."
The test, which could last up to 48 hours, gauges pressure in the well to assess its condition. Officials said the test would show whether the cap can safely shut off the flow from the well if oil-capture vessels at the surface must disconnect, for example in the event of a hurricane.
"It's a great sight but it's far from the finish line," Doug Suttles, a senior BP executive, told reporters.