A leaking well which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was finally sealed yesterday, American officials said.
Oil giant BP killed the leak by pumping cement into the bottom — ending a five-month battle that started when one of its oil rigs exploded. The Deepwater Horizon rig blew up on April 20, killing 11 workers.
A cap sealed the flow of oil three months later.
But the ruptured well could not be declared dead until a relief well was drilled and a pressure test confirmed that the plug was holding.
The relief well intersected the blown-out well on Thursday, and crews started pumping in cement on Friday.
Coastguard Admiral Thad Allen, the federal official who oversaw the disaster, said yesterday that the well was “effectively dead”.
“Additional regulatory steps will be undertaken but we can now state definitively that the Macondo Well poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
It is estimated that 206 million gallons of oil has spewed into the gulf since the disaster.
It led to the resignation of BP chief executive Tony Hayward and a moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling.
BP accepted it was partly at fault for the disaster in an internal report, admitting its workers misinterpreted a key pressure test of the well.
But it also pointed the finger at its partners on the rig.
The firm’s stock price has started to recover but took a massive nosedive after the explosion.
The clean-up operation has cost it $8billion (£5.1 billion), with another $20billion (£12.8 billion) set aside for a compensation fund.
The disaster caused an environmental and economic nightmare for people who live, work and play along hundreds of miles of Gulf shoreline from Florida to Texas.
It also spurred civil and criminal investigations and brought increased governmental scrutiny of the oil and gas industry.
But Gulf residents will be feeling the pain for years to come as there is still plenty of oil in the water, and some continues to wash up on shore.