Did BP Set New Target Date for Well Capping?

BP (BP) indicated Wednesday that it could fix the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico in just over two weeks -- by July 27. "In a perfect world with no interruptions, it's possible to be ready to stop the well between July 20 and July 27," the head of BP's Gulf Coast restoration unit, Bob Dudley, told the Wall Street Journal. But was this revised deadline premature?

A spokeswoman for BP Thursday hedged the announcement. "He (Dudley) gave that as the very, very best scenario if everything went absolutely superbly according to plan and there are no interruptions but the expectation is that it will be August," the spokeswoman told reporters.

Dudley's revised target date, which is also the same day BP plans to release its second-quarter earnings, was "possibly weeks before the deadline the company is discussing publicly, in a bid to show investors it has capped its ballooning financial liabilities," the Journal reported.

His optimism was based on new equipment that has been rushed to the area of the leak. If the well can be capped sooner, this will obviously help BP contain the costs of the spill. Estimates of these costs continue to rise. Research firm Sanford C. Bernstein's new estimate for the total expenses tied to the leak is now $33 billion. No wonder BP CEO Tony Hayward may be talking to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, about a possible investment in the oil company.

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