British Petroleum's oil spill in the Gulf of Maxico is the world's worst accidental release of oil with nearly five million barrels spilled, The Obama administration has said. This figure tops the 1979 spill at Ixtoc I in Mexico, which leaked 3.3 million barrels of oil.
"Scientists now estimate nearly 5 million barrels of oil have leaked into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion that sunk the BP-run Deepwater Horizon offshore rig," Fox News quoted an Obama administration the report as saying.
"Not all of this oil and gas flowed into the ocean, noting that about 800,000 barrels of oil were captured before the well was capped in mid-July," it added.
BP is yet to permanently plug the busted well. After insisting for months that a pair of costly relief wells were the only sure fire way to stop the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, BP officials have recently said they may be able to do it just with lines running from a ship to the blown-out well a mile below.
The company has planned to carry out tests to determine whether to proceed with a "static kill" to pump mud and perhaps cement down the throat of the well.
"Even if we were to pump the cement from the top, we will still continue on with the relief well and confirm that the well is dead. Either way, we want to end up with cement in the bottom of the hole," BP's Senior Vice President Kent Wells said.
The primary relief well, near completion and could be used to ensure that the leak is plugged.
The company began drilling the primary, 18,000-foot relief well May 2, 12 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and killed 11 workers. It is now only about 100 feet from the target, and it could reach it as early as Aug. 11. It started drilling a second backup well May 16.
Meanwhile, retired United States Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen, the government's point man on the spill response, said that the focus now is on making sure the static kill is successful.
"Everyone would like to have this thing over as soon as possible, we don't know the condition of the well until we start pushing mud into it," he added.