Easy Answer: It could be days instead of weeks; a BP spokesman says it's hard to know. The New York Times is guessing it could be done by the end of the week.
The end could finally be in sight. At a press conference today, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen laid out the steps that could permanently plug BP's runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today is testing day at the site of the oil spill, preparing for the "static kill" procedure that BP officials hope will start tomorrow. The "static kill" involves pumping a special mud into the well, which will tamp down the gushing oil (hopefully). The entire procedure could take between about 30 hours and 60 hours--but it isn't the "end all be all," says Allen.
After the "static kill" and additional data crunching and heavy thinking--officials will decide how to try to kill the well for good. They could try to pump cement and seal the well from the top. Or, they could decide it's better to wait for the relief wells and kill the well from the bottom.
Weight of mud used in the static kill procedure to block well: 13.2 pounds per gallons.
Weight of seawater: 8.6 pounds per gallon.
Number of barrels of mud the "static kill" could require: 2000.
Days between "static kill" and "bottom kill" procedure, which could permanently seal well: 5-7 minimum.
Amount of money BP has put into a fund to help oil rig workers out of work because of deepwater drilling moratorium: $100 million.
Number of people that fund could help: 9,000.