BP announced it had succeeded in plugging the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico last week.
A cap was fitted at the site where an oil rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 workers and leading to environmental catastrophe.
By most estimates 100 million to 200 million gallons of crude oil has already been released into the sea.
But capping the well may increase the pressure – forcing oil and gas to start leaking through other parts of the sea floor.
It was unclear as Socialist Worker went to press if this was the case.
The US government is now deciding whether to keep the cap closed on a daily basis. It wants the cap hooked up to a mile-long pipe to pump the crude to ships.
But BP wants the cap clamped shut to keep the oil inside until relief wells are finished that may seal the leak permanently.
The government’s option is safer but would require up to three more days of oil spilling into the gulf.
To plug the well, BP is drilling two relief wells, one as a backup. The subsequent job of jamming the well with mud and cement could take days or a few weeks.
None of it is certain to succeed. Even if it does it will take months, or possibly years, for the gulf to be cleaned up.
Attempts to end the disaster are wracked with the same problem that caused it – the pursuit of profit.
BP and Libya
BP signed a £545.5 million deal in 2007 to search for oil and gas both on and offshore in Libya following a visit by Tony Blair.
BP lobbied for the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was wrongly imprisoned for the Lockerbie bombing.
BP doesn’t care that Megrahi is innocent, it is simply interested in making money. The row over its role in his release represents tensions over whether pursuit of profit or the “war on terror” matters the most.
For more on Lockerbie go to Lockerbie evidence shows grave miscarriage of justice (Aug 2009)