Originally posted by Tim Webb - The Guardian - August 11, 2010
BP will have to wait a few more days before declaring its Deepwater Horizon well permanently sealed because a tropical storm may be heading for the Gulf of Mexico.
The company suspended the drilling of its 18,000ft relief well yesterday for two or three days in order to wait for the weather front to pass. It said it would not now be able to intercept the ruptured well until Sunday at the earliest. Once the well is intercepted, BP can begin "bottom kill", where it pumps cement to seal the bottom of the reservoir. The company has already performed this at the top of the well.
Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president, said the company did not want to take any risk of rough weather disrupting the operation. "We don't want to be in the middle of a critical operation while we've got a potential tropical storm going by," he said. No oil has leaked since a cap was placed on the well on 15 July.
This week, lawyers pursuing BP for damages claimed a victory after a panel of judges decided to hear the cases in New Orleans. BP had hoped that Houston, where US oil companies are based, would be chosen, believing that judges and jury members would be more sympathetic. The panel said that New Orleans was most appropriate because Louisiana is the "geographic and psychological centre of gravity" for the litigation. About 300 lawsuits have been filed.
Brent Coon, a Houston-based lawyer, said that the number of clients who are approaching him seeking compensation from BP had increased. Ken Feinberg, appointed to run the $20bn (£12.7bn) BP compensation fund, will this month start offering one-off lump sum payouts to applicants in return for them waiving the right to sue BP.