BP on Thursday held out the possibility it could cap its Gulf of Mexico gusher sooner than it has previously said publicly, perhaps as soon as July 27.
Then again, all bets are off if a hurricane or other significant storm interferes, a senior BP executive told The Wall Street Journal in an interview (subscription required.)
Bob Dudley, BP's new American face for handling efforts to stop the spewing oil and clean up the mess, told the WSJ:
"In a perfect world with no interruptions, it's possible to be ready to stop the well between July 20 and July 27," said the head of BP's Gulf Coast restoration unit, managing director Bob Dudley, in an interview. He added that this "perfect case" is threatened by the hurricane season and is "unlikely."
On Wednesday, on a visit to the Discoverer Enterprise, the ship that's collecting oil from the well, Mr. Dudley got word of a nine-day period of clear weather starting Friday, a period that could prove critical to the effort.
BP had earlier estimated publicly that it would take until sometime in August for relief wells to cap the uncontrolled flow of oil from the broken Deepwater Horizon well.
Despite Dudley's comments, National Incident Commander Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen (ret.) said at a Thursday morning news conference that he still envisions the gusher being capped by mid-August. It could happen sooner but that's the timeline he's still operating on.
The WSJ story makes it sound that BP is largely being driven by financial and political considerations.
Not that the company isn't also being driven by the fact that the oil is despoiling the Gulf, the shore, animals and ruining livelihoods. But the WSJ definitely makes it sound like the financial impact on the company is right up there.
For instance, the story notes that BP is scheduled to report its second quarter earnings on July 27 at which time it's also supposed to speak with investors. Capping the well by then could likely make that conference call a lot more pleasant for BP officials.
The story also points out that British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit President Obama in the Oval Office July 20. If BP just days from capping the gusher, that could certainly make that meeting more upbeat, so to speak.