Three months into the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government's spill chief says a relief tunnel should finally reach BP's broken well by the weekend, meaning the gusher could be snuffed for good within two weeks.
After several days of concern about the well's stability and the leaky cap keeping the oil mostly bottled up, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Tuesday that engineers concluded the risk of a bigger blowout was minimal and were getting closer to pumping mud into the column to permanently seal it.
"We continue to be pleased with the progress," Allen said in Washington, giving the go-ahead to keep the well cap shut for at least 24 more hours and possibly longer.
BP vice president Kent Wells said crews hope to drill sideways into the blown-out well and intercept it at the end of July. The relief well is necessary to plug the well permanently.
After it's done, crews will begin the kill procedure, pumping mud and cement into the hole a mile underwater to seal it, which BP said could take anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.