The top U.S. official overseeing the response to BP Plc's Gulf of Mexico oil leak said on Tuesday he doesn't expect the company's commitment to cleaning up the spill to be diminished with its change in leadership.
I don't see any diminishing of performance or priorities, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said of BP's earlier announcement that Bob Dudley, who has been BP's top executive handling the spill response, will replace Chief Executive Tony Hayward on October 1.
Allen also said BP remains on schedule to start permanently plugging the blown-out Macondo well with a static kill on Monday, followed by intercepting it at the bottom with a relief well five days later.
Kent Wells, BP's senior vice president of exploration and production, said later on Tuesday that the relief well likely would intercept the Macondo well in two weeks, or August 10 -- three days after Allen's projection.
When asked about the difference, Wells said he didn't see a difference.
I thought he'd said something like August 10, and I said two weeks from today, Wells said.
Allen said the rig that had been drilling the first of two relief wells had reconnected with seabed equipment on Tuesday and workers were preparing to insert and cement in place the last bit of pipe, or casing, late this week.
Once that's done, BP can do the static kill, which involves pumping heavy drilling mud and cement into the stricken well from the top. The relief well will allow more mud and cement to be injected at the bottom, nearly 13,000 feet beneath the seabed.
Allen said on Tuesday that pressure testing on the Macondo well since a cap plugged the leak on July 15 continues to indicate the well remains intact after the April 20 blowout.
All indications are stable, he said.
(Reporting by Kristen Hays, Editing by Eric Beech)