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BP: Relief Wells Could Be Ready This Month

Oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well lingered off the Mississippi Delta, 04 Jul 2010

Oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well lingered off the Mississippi Delta, 04 Jul 2010

A U.S. newspaper reports British oil giant BP is pushing to stop the gushing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico weeks earlier than forecast.

Bob Dudley, the BP official in charge of managing the spill, told The Wall Street Journal Thursday that with no interruptions, relief wells could be completed by July 27.

However, he said poor weather from the ongoing hurricane season made this "perfect case" scenario unlikely.

On July 20, British Prime Minister David Cameron is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. On July 27, BP will announce its second quarter earnings to investors.

The company's share prices have dropped by half since the spill began.

BP has previously said these wells would be completed by mid-August.

BP officials also told The Wall Street Journal they were working on a series of backup plans, at the request of U.S. government officials.

The newspaper said Energy Secretary Steve Chu told BP engineers they should force themselves "to think each plan will fail."

The backups include using existing pipelines to divert the oil to nearby gas fields.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen reported Wednesday the relief well is within a few hundred feet of the damaged well, but work is now proceeding slowly.

Meanwhile, bad weather continues to delay the installation of a third containment vessel. that could allow the collection of up to 53,000 barrels of oil per day from the well. Government estimates say as much as 60,000 barrels are leaking from the well each day.

The disaster was caused by an April explosion and fire on a rig that killed 11 oil workers. It is the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.