BP Begins Relief Well Drilling as 'Static Kill' Declared Success

The cement sealing the blown oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has hardened as crews prepare for the final phase of drilling a relief well, BP said today.

The oil giant said pressure tests on the cement plug poured down the throat of the well show the seal is solidly in place. With confirmation that the "static kill" worked, BP engineers can begin drilling the final 100 feet of a relief well meant to permanently seal the blowout.

"Everybody is in agreement that we need to proceed with the relief well," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said. "The question is how to do it."

The decision to continue with the relief well came as Alabama announced it was suing BP for the "catastrophic harm" that the spill had caused the state.

Earlier this week Allen had raised the possibility that the relief well might not be necessary because the cement poured into the top of the blown Macondo well last week -- the so-called "static kill" -- might have permanently killed it.