BP Suspending Drilling Until Gulf Storm Passes

BP is suspending drilling on the last 30 feet of a relief well until a Gulf storm passes, potentially delaying the operation for two to three days, the U.S. point man on the spill response said Tuesday.Retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen told reporters during a briefing that crews will place a temporary plug or storm packer into the casing. "They are just going to wait out the storm," Allen said. "We expect the weather to be choppy enough ... we are taking these steps as a precaution". The National Hurricane Center said there is a high chance -- or 60% -- that thunderstorms off southern Florida could strengthen in the next 48 hours into a tropical or subtropical cyclone headed over the Gulf of Mexico. Allen reinstated that the solution to kill the well permanently involves the interception of the annulus and injection of mud and cement from the bottom in an effort called "bottom kill." He said crews would be doing pressure tests on the well to understand the condition of the annulus better. "The relief well is the ultimate solution," Allen said. "There is a very low probability where we might not have to do it". Operations on the second relief well, which started May 16, have been suspended at a measured depth of 15,874 feet, so as not to interfere with the completion of the first relief well, BP said Monday in a press release.