Well, BP’s “static kill” seems to have finally plugged the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 3 months after it began spewing oil into the ocean. (Though the final nail in the coffin won’t come until the “bottom kill” succeeds.)
And despite the optimistic reports today, the amount of oil remaining in the gulf is still equivalent to at least four times the amount that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, and possibly double that.
NOAA predicts that 26% of the oil is “residual” or still residing in the gulf and that another 24% was “dispersed” but much of that may still be hanging around waiting for mother nature (a.k.a. bacteria) to break it down. Further, NOAA says some of the oil is “dissolved” which doesn’t mean the same thing as “disappeared.” So more than half of the oil could still be dwelling in the Gulf – maybe as much as 8 Exxon Valdez spills’ worth.
And there are still many, many unanswered questions.
Here is an explanation of BP’s “static kill” tactic being used to close the well from today’s Washington Post:
The "static kill" is part of a double whammy of mud and cement that would hit the runaway Macondo well high and low in quick succession. The static kill starts at the top, firing the mud and possibly cement into the blowout preventer that sits on the wellhead.
That effort, which would take a day or two, would be followed in another five to seven days by the start of the more laborious "bottom kill," in which mud and cement will be injected into Macondo through a relief well that engineers began drilling at the beginning of May.