Correction to This Article
This article about BP stopping the flow of oil from the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico and beginning an "integrity test" misspelled the last name of the mayor of Gulf Shores, Ala. He is Robert Craft, not Robert Kraft.
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Oil leak is stopped for first time since April 20 blowout

Video
BP says a containment cap has stopped oil from flowing into the Gulf for the first time since April.

"We're far from the finish line here," BP chief operation officer Doug Suttles told CNN.

"It felt very good not to see any oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. What I'm trying to do is maintain my emotions. Remember, this is the start of our test," Kent Wells, BP's senior vice president of exploration and production, said in a conference call with reporters.

Regardless of whether BP and the government decide to keep the well closed at the top, the ultimate solution to the blowout is a mud and cement bottom-kill from a relief well that is four feet from Macondo laterally and has only about 150 feet vertically to drill. During the integrity test, drilling of the relief well has been suspended as a precaution against oil and gas surging into the new hole from Macondo.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), leading reporters on a tour of an island the state is building to stop incoming oil, welcomed the closing of the well but said he was worried that public attention and federal help might slacken if the well remains sealed.

"This fight's not over for Louisiana," Jindal said. "It would be premature to declare 'Mission Accomplished.' " In Gulf Shores, Ala. -- a beach town that has been repeatedly hit by tar balls and gooey oil -- Mayor Robert Kraft wasn't ready to pop champagne.

"Forgive us for being a little bit skeptical, but give me 48 hours," Kraft said. If nothing goes wrong, he said, "I'll breathe."

The test had been delayed two days, first by government fears that it could backfire and then by a leak in a key component of the well's new cap. The choke line, the crucial three-inch pipe, curved like an elephant's trunk, sprang its own leak Wednesday night. Engineers swapped in a spare choke line from a surface ship. For hours Wednesday night and Thursday morning, video streams from the seafloor showed a chaotic plume of oil and gas surging from another outlet, the kill line. That was just the latest configuration of the plume, which has taken on different forms as engineers have hacked and prodded the deep-sea hardware.

A key turning point -- one that set the strategy that led to the integrity test -- came when government scientists in early June came up with a new, staggering estimate for the flow rate of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. That spurred the government to demand that BP come up with a more robust set of containment measures. Allen said Thursday that, while developing this plan, it occurred to engineers that they might be able to use the new set-up to shut in the well.

Staff writer David Fahrenthold in Louisiana contributed to this report.


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