With a cap holding pressure on a runaway BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, Adm. Thad Allen, national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, reported July 26 that crews expect to finish preparations in the last week of July and begin a “static kill,” in which drilling mud and cement will be forced down into the top of the well on Aug. 2. Then about five days later, they plan to begin the bottom kill, in which the same materials are pumped into the well bore near its base, after being conveyed there through a relief well intersecting the wellbore 18,000 ft below the surface of the sea.

On July 22, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell committed $1 billion to set up a rapid response system to deal with future oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters. Participation will be open to any offshore drilling and production company working in the Gulf of Mexico. The response system is to include sub-sea containment equipment for rapid deployment in the event of a spill, as well as a team of permanent specialists. The move is seen as an effort to deflect moves by state and federal officials to restrict deepwater drilling activity.