Mr Obama, who turned 49 yesterday (August 4), hailed the news as a ‘significant milestone’ as BP said it was to begin pouring concrete into the stricken well which it finally capped almost three weeks ago.

Mr Obama said “The long battle is finally close to coming to an end, and we are very pleased with that.”

BP said this morning it had received authorisation from the National Incident Commander (NIC) to conduct cementing operations on the well as part of the static kill procedure, which is set to begin later today.

A spokesman said: “All operations are being carried out with the guidance and approval of the NIC and other government officials.

“The aim of the procedure is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well, and will complement the upcoming relief well operation.”

Luke Walsh

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