BP says it might drill again in spill reservoir
By GREG BLUESTEIN and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers
BP PLC said Friday it might someday drill again into the same lucrative undersea pocket of oil that spilled millions of gallons of crude, wrecked livelihoods and fouled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.
“There’s lots of oil and gas here,” Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news briefing. “We’re going to have to think about what to do with that at some point.”
The vast oil reservoir beneath the blown well is still believed to hold nearly $4 billion worth of crude. With the company and its partners facing tens of billions of dollars in liabilities, the incentive to exploit the wells and the reservoir could grow.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said he had no information on BP’s future plans.
“I would assume that’s a policy issue related to the management of the lease,” he told reporters. “Frankly, it hasn’t been raised to my level at this point. I’m not sure I can comment on it.”
Suttles has spent more than three months managing BP’s response efforts on the Gulf but is now returning to his day job in Houston, the company said. Mike Utsler, a vice president who has been running BP’s command post in Houma, La., since April, will replace him.
The personnel shift comes as BP appears to be gaining the upper hand on plugging the leak, triggered when an oil rig exploded off Louisiana on April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the massive spill.
Engineers this week poured in cement to complete a plug at the top of the well bore as part of a process dubbed a “static kill,” but they needed to wait at least a day for it to harden. Once it does, crews can finish the last stretch of a relief well intersecting the blown well just above the oil’s source, injecting more mud and cement from the bottom to form a final plug.
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jason Dearen in Pass-A-Loutre, La., Jennifer Kay in Pensacola Beach, Fla., Brian Skoloff in Pass Christian, Miss., Jeffrey Collins and Jeff McMillan in New Orleans, and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala.