NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The federal government's Gulf oil spill chief says a relief tunnel should finally reach BP's broken well by the weekend.
That means the gusher could be snuffed for good within two weeks.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says engineers have concluded the risk of a bigger blowout is minimal and are getting closer to pumping mud into the column to permanently seal it.
Allen is giving the go-ahead to keep the well cap shut for at least 24 more hours and possibly longer.
BP vice president Kent Wells says crews hope to drill sideways into the blown-out well and intercept it at the end of July. The relief well is necessary to plug the well permanently.
After it's done, crews will begin the kill procedure, pumping mud and cement into the hole a mile underwater to seal it, which BP said could take anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks.
Engineers are also considering shooting drilling mud down through the cap to increase the chances that the attempt to kill the well succeeds.