BP's dubious July 27 'kill' date

While BP officials claim the gushing well could be capped weeks ahead of time, skepticism abounds. What's really going on in the Gulf?

Will BP really cap the gusher by July 27?
(Image credit: Getty)

BP could cap the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico weeks earlier than expected, BP Gulf spill chief Bob Dudley tells The Wall Street Journal, calling a kill-date of July 20-27 "possible in a perfect world," while pointing out that hurricane season is the wild card. Officially, BP and the Coast Guard are sticking with a mid-August kill estimate, but the first relief well is only 12 feet horizontally and less than 300 feet vertically from tapping the runaway main well. If the drillers are so close, what's the holdup? And why can't BP get its story straight? (Watch a report about the latest BP deadline)

Who believes BP anymore? Given all its "fishy" spill numbers, failed operations, and missed deadlines, says the Chicago Tribune in an editorial, "BP has lost its credibility on promises and projections." So while an early sealing of the well would be most welcome, color us skeptical — and "just tell us when it's done."

"Counting barrels"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

BP is "foot-dragging": July 27, or earlier, was always doable, and it's nice someone at BP "finally admitted" it, says Robert Cavnar in The Huffington Post. But BP has a persuasive reason for delaying this: As soon as they control the leak, the "flow rate" can finally be quantified "and that's the last thing BP wants, since that number will then be used to extrapolate environmental damage" and "barrel fines."

"BP's incentive: To not capture all the oil"

BP has a broader agenda: It sounds like the July 27 goal is being driven by other "financial and political considerations" too, says Frank James at NPR. That date just happens to be when BP is releasing its second-quarter earnings and chatting with investors, and the earlier date, July 20, is when British Prime Minister David Cameron meets with President Obama. If the well is capped, those conferences will be "a lot more pleasant" and "upbeat."

"BP could cap Gulf gusher soon, or not"

BP should let its actions speak, not its executives: That's a big "if," says Dan Amira at New York Magazine. Being able to tell its investors this "one smidgen of good news amid a much larger amount of bad news" would certainly be good for BP, but instead of over-promising again, I'd prefer a big dose of worst-case. That way, if they do make the deadline, "we can be pleasantly surprised by BP just one time."

"BP sets more expectations it probably can't meet"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.