BP Oil Spill: “Top Kill” Remains UncertainMay 26, 2010 - 8:32 AM | by: Jonathan Serrie
What could be the turning point in BP’s efforts to stop a broken oil well from gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico remains on an uncertain schedule.
This morning, company officials had hoped to begin pumping heavy drilling mud into the well to block the oil flow, a procedure known as “top kill.”
While the method has a good track record on land, it has never before been attempted offshore at a depth of 5,000 feet. Engineers are still trying to determine how the extreme water pressure at that depth will affect the process.
In the pre-dawn hours, BP was still conducting tests on the failed Blowout Preventer (BOP) on top of the well to determine whether the company could successfully execute a top kill.
“The tests involve pumping drilling fluids into the BOP to measure pressures and flow paths,” BP Press Officer Robert Wine explains in an email to FOX News producer Dan Gallo. “This work may take up to another day and, when complete, a decision will be made on the execution of the top kill procedure itself.”
Company officials have given the operation a 60 to 70 percent chance of success. They say the entire procedure could take up to two days.
After considerable discussion and controversy, BP agreed to continue providing a live video feed to the general public, showing the site of the well on the ocean floor during the top kill process.
The company is telling viewers to expect “significant changes” in the oil flow during the procedure and says these changes “will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole.”