Drilling of the first relief well began in early May. Now the drill bit is within 30 to 50 feet of the target. The drill is about as wide as a grapefuit and its target is less than half the diameter of a dartboard.
"Nobody in BP would be more delighted to demonstrate they can drill down over 17,000 feet below sea level and hit a seven-inch pipe," Allen said.
The continuation of the relief well, still anticipated to be five to seven days away at the earliest, depends on weather. Allen will issue the directive to start drilling the relief wells again when the conditions are right.
"The relief well will be finished," Allen said. "We will kill this well."
Spill's Impact On Birds Spikes
Meanwhile, scientists are still uncovering more evidence of the spill's impact. The number of dead birds spiked 30 percent over the last ten days, bringing the total to 4,080 dead birds and 1,901 birds found oiled but alive.
When ABC News motored into the bays of southern Louisiana, where shrimping season opens Monday, crabs, some dead, some alive, scurried through a river of sludge. A trip to the marshes three months after persistent cleaning shows the same result every time: oil
Four hundred miles away from these marshes, the Obama family will spend the weekend in Panama City, Florida, hoping to send a message that Gulf beaches are safe for family vacations.
Panama City Beach may be clear of oil, but not the rest of the gulf.
"If you take a kid to dig a hole in the beach to try to build a sand castly, then they're going to dig the oil out," said Ping Wang, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.