BP officials say there has been no flow of oil going into the Gulf of Mexico since the energy company closed the vents on a new cap Thursday.
And they say they don’t expect any oil to be released into the ocean as it conducts a well integrity test over the next day or two.
BP did admit, however, that “[e]ven if no oil is released during the test, this will not be an indication that oil and gas flow from the wellbore has been permanently stopped.”
“The sealing cap system never before has been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured,” the energy company announced Thursday.
Still, there was much rejoicing over the news and the view from BP’s underwater cameras, which – for the first time in months – no longer reveal plumes of oil gushing into the Gulf.
It has been nearly 90 days since the April 20 explosion of a Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 men and resulted in the massive oil spill - largest in American history. Since then, tens of millions of gallons of crude oil have been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, shutting down beaches, endangering wildlife, and threatening the fishing and tourism industry along the coast.
“For almost 90 days of this environmental disaster, all of us have taken hope in the image of clean water instead of oil spewing in the Gulf,” remarked President Obama on Friday.
And while the president said he “[doesn’t] want us to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Obama hailed Thursday’s update on the situation in the Gulf as “good news.”
“Either we will be able to stop the flow, or we will be able to use it to capture almost all of the oil until the relief well is done,” he reported Friday morning.
However, even with the stop of the leak, the president made sure to note that there is “obviously … still a big job to do.”
“[W]e’ve got an enormous amount of work to do and people down in the Gulf, particularly businesses, are still suffering as a consequence of this disaster,” he reported. “But we are making steady progress and I think the American people should take some heart in the fact that we’re making progress on this front.”
The president said he expects to return to the Gulf Coast “in the next several weeks” and is, in the meantime, staying in touch every day with his team of scientists, who are monitoring the progress and briefing him on it.
Some have referred to the Gulf Coast spill as “Obama’s Katrina,” comparing the president’s handling of the crisis to that of his predecessor, former President Bush, in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Last month, Americans gave President Obama a 44 percent approval rating on his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a poll by the Gallup organization. Earlier that month, the approval rating was at 40 percent.
Meanwhile, 16 percent of Americans said last month that they approve of BP's handling of the spill.