Speaking at a status conference for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Multi-District Litigation (MDL) at the Eastern District of Louisiana, assistant U.S. attorney Mike Underhill said that testing has begun on the failed blowout preventer (BOP) and the well cement used on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Speaking before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, Underhill said that testing on the BOP began early last week and that the court should anticipate a "slow but sure process" because the testing is being done in a forensic matter.

Underhill said he expects BOP tests would be over by the end of January or beginning of February 2011. He also said that previous orders from the court to make sure the testing is being done as quickly as possible has been relayed to all officials involved.

At a previous status conference, Underhill admitted that the BOP testing was running behind course and Barbier expressed his concern over the delays which already pushed back the first proposed trial date from late 2011 to early 2012.

Underhill also gave an update on the testing of the well cement used by Halliburton in drilling the Deepwater Horizon well. He said that the cement has been turned over to a marine board but that no timeline had been set on when it will be completed. He said that testing "is not as lengthy" as the tests done on the BOP.

Attorneys for Halliburton said at the hearing that the cement has "been waiting for weeks" to be picked up by the government for testing. The cement was stored in a climate-controlled area before the marine board took possession of it.

Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179

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