Hallelujah: BP says the well is capped; Update: "Critical tests remain"

Good lord. This almost makes up for BP possibly having persuaded the British government to release the scumbag Lockerbie bomber so that they could drill off the coast of Libya. Almost.

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is … over-ish.

A tightly fitted cap was successfully keeping oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in three months, BP said Thursday. The victory — long awaited by weary residents along the coast — is the most significant milestone yet in BP’s effort to control one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history…

Now begins a waiting period to see if the cap can hold the oil without blowing a new leak in the well. Engineers will monitor pressure readings incrementally for up to 48 hours before reopening the cap while they decide what to do.

Though not a permanent fix, the solution has been the only one that has worked to stem the flow of oil since April. BP is drilling two relief wells so it can pump mud and cement into the leaking well in hopes of plugging it for good by mid-August.

85 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes. The link comes from Drudge, incidentally, who also has a cheery Australian news item about pressure from the cap possibly blowing a brand-new oil-gushing hole in the sea floor. Keep your fingers crossed nice and tight, because needless to say, their track record thus far on sustainable leak-stoppage isn’t great.

Assuming this holds for the foreseeable future, there are two issues while we wait for the relief wells. One: Please, please,
no hurricanes. And two: Lift the blanket drilling moratorium in the gulf already. Fully 60 percent of gulf residents oppose it, their grief over the spill notwithstanding. Don’t agree, lefties? Maybe Serpenthead can talk sense to you. Exit quotation: “The federal government is about to kill us.”

Update: Like I say, fingers crossed.

Now begins a waiting period to see if the cap can hold the oil without blowing a new leak in the well. Engineers will monitor pressure readings incrementally for up to 48 hours before reopening the cap while they decide what to do.

BP will be monitoring pressure under the cap. High pressure is good, because it shows there’s only a single leak. Low pressure, below 6,000 pounds per square inch or so, could mean more leaks farther down in the well…

The government point man for the disaster, Thad Allen, said the testing will also help prepare for the hoped-for permanent fix by the relief wells. The mapping of the sea floor that was done to prepare for the cap test and the pressure readings will also help them determine how much mud and cement will be needed to seal off the well underground.