‘Top Kill’ gets the OK. What will we see? *Second Update*


BP CEO Tony Hayward said tonight that the company is making progress on the “top kill” procedure to plug the leak at its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The operation is proceeding as we planned it,” Hayward said in a statement. “Steven Chu, the [Interior] Secretary, and I have been working together since we started the operation several hours ago.”

The BP chief added that he knows people are watching the live video feed of the leak on the sea floor.

“All I can say is that it is unlikely to give us any real indication of what is going on,” he said.

“Either increases or decreases are not an indicator of either success or failure at this time. We will be continuing for at least another 24 hours.”

Hayward said they won’t know whether the top kill maneuver succeeded until those 24 hours have elapsed.


BP said it started the top kill operation about about 1 p.m. CDT today.

Here’s the live video of the spill on the sea floor. The feed seems to be up and down since the operations began, likely due to web traffic.


The U.S. Coast Guard has just given BP the green light to start the top kill operation that could seal the leak at its Macondo well, according to a release this morning.

BP has been testing the equipment to be used in the procedure over the last couple of days to make sure the process wouldn’t do further damage to the well or equipment, which could make stopping the leak more difficult.

Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral Mary Landry, acting on the validation of government scientists and in consultation with the National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, has granted approval for BP to begin proceeding with their attempt to cap the well using the technique known as the “top kill.”
This expedited step provides the final authorization necessary to begin the procedure.

BP has said all the equipment is in place for the operation to begin. No word on the exact timing.

What might we see when the top kill begins?

It doesn’t seem likely the SpillCam that everyone’s watching online will suddenly stop spewing oil, say BP officials. More likely we’ll see signs of the mud that’s being pumped into the blowout preventer — meaning we could see a different colored flow, maybe a cloudier picture since the mud has a different consistancy than the oil and natural gas coming out now.

If the mud pressure is able to overcome the pressure of the oil and gas flowing out, eventually we should see the flow from pipe on the SpillCam starting to slow. That could take a couple of hours or longer, if it works at all.

As I noted in an entry this morning about BP’s command center, they have done drills on a number of possible problems that could arise, like mud pumps suddenly breaking down or pipes failing. Problems like that could also change the appearance of the flow.

Tom Fowler

No Responses

  1. Indian paintbrush says:

    I think we will be getting good news tomorrow.

  2. AnimuX says:

    “The testimony corroborated other witness statements obtained by The Associated Press that show Transocean managers complained BP was “taking shortcuts” the day of the explosion by replacing heavy drilling fluid with saltwater in the well that blew out.”
    Nice work BP. Spill Baby Spill

  3. When in the heck are we going to say Enough!The democrats have voted in the worst president in history.Nancy Pelosi is a low priced whore, and biden is a joke.You have elected a laughing stock, are you proud? You have brought down this proud Country to it’s knees.I promise you, you will not be here next time.

  4. xxx says:

    Take every man and woman in the Coast Guard and most of the armed services and congress and add a Supreme ourt Justice or three. Put them in a room. Tell them, “Antone who has been on a rig for more than a one hour tour raise your hand.” I doubt any of them would, ifsomeone raises his/her hand put them in charge?
    “The Coast Guard is hardly in charge here” thank god for this. They can be the janitors cleaning up the mess after it is out of the hole, better still the interview with the Parish Emergency Response team.
    They know the lay of the land, the peple and have a direct vested interest in making sure it is done right, and most importantly spirit required for sustaining the clean-up and then, and as important for the future, “bonding” for those that are losing their culture because of this incident.

  5. elowe says:

    I meant 72,000 bpd mud.

  6. elowe says:

    Pretty impressive amount of equipment on location.
    Watching the stream right now, and you see the plume from 50 bbl/min of 16 lb/gal mud (3000 bbl/day.
    That mud plume looks much more dramatic with regard to flow than the oil plume that everyone was so sure was more than 5000 bpd, and a good amount of the mud is actually going into the well.

  7. ntangle says:

    Thought that all you guys articles (eg, yours, Monica’s, the AP articles) today were especially informative. Lots of specifics about the well design, the kill procedure, etc. The real efforts…to fix the problem. Not just the political theater that’s going on elsewhere.

  8. Dill says:

    Just got through saying a prayer that it works…

  9. TomFowler says:

    The 3:29pm time stamp is when we last added something to the blog entry. In this case it was the words “The feed seems to be up and down since the operations began, likely due to web traffic.” I updated the site to say “the pumping started at 1 p.m.” at about 1:10 p.m. Actually we had it out on our site before BP had it on theirs.

  10. hobojoe says:

    BP has said all the equipment is in place for the operation to begin. No word on the exact timing.
    posted at 3:29pm. 2 hours and 29 minutes after the topkill ALREADY STARTED

  11. Jackalope says:

    The live feed has been down since 2:57.

  12. TomFowler says:

    Are you kidding me? Have you been reading the blog? We have more than a dozen items per day about the spill on this story. In today’s paper I believe we had five stories. Maybe the design of the WashingtonPost web site is giving the story higher play at the moment, but we’ve we have quite a bit of coverage of it all over the site, and collected here: http://www.chron.com/oilspill/.
    Read any Loren Steffy column, our past coverage of BP’s Texas City accident or the oil spills on the North Slope and tell me just where you see BP influence.

  13. Augustus says:

    Why is coverage of BP so much more extensive in the Washington Post than the Chron? Oh, I forgot, the Chron is the only major newspaper that hasn’t won a Pulitzer. Or is it because BP owns them?

  14. Jackalope says:

    Glad to see that the national news media has finally shown some interest in this man made BP oil disaster in our Gulf of Mexico. It is about time. This disaster should have been on the news 24/7 from the get-go. Posted by: truthliberates at May 26, 2010 12:16 PM

    Where have you been??? This has usurped the Nashville flood, the Times Square bomber, and the sinking of the South Korean ship by the NOKOs. Only this and the Arizona immigration bill has been in the news for the past month.

  15. ld says:

    Great they choose a camera away from the riser plume. It’s like a shot of the blimp(without sound) during the entire super bowl. What a waste. You can bet if it starts going well we will be back to the rsier cam.

  16. ntangle says:

    What will we see? *update*
    What I saw on the ABC link was an Oceaneering wall panel with several monitors. The only problem was a prominent reflection on the glass…of a guy walking around with a can (soft drink?) in his hand. Too funny!

  17. TomFowler says:

    Everyone is showing the same feed, whichever ROV shot BP is choosing to stream. The Associated Press isn’t exactly a competing media outlet, since AP is a cooperative that papers like ours are members of. While we might compete with their reporters on particular stories, we get to use their content because we also help provide content to them for other members to use.

  18. Ken says:

    All I get on the feed is an underwater heartburn commercial.

  19. ntangle says:

    Can’t believe this blog’s spill cam link is to a competing media company’s website. Rather than to BP’s or the UC’s website.

  20. John says:

    It was the Hindenberg, not the Graf Zeppelin. The Hindenberg exploded and burned while trying to land at a naval air station. Just FYI. The Graf Zeppelin was dismantled by the Nazis and used to make fighter and bomber aircraft.

  21. Jim says:

    Video feed just went to black (1:34 pm); hope that means something good has happened.

  22. LCD says:

    Had to waite for approval to stop the largest oil leak in US history…..aint that America baby,,,,,,,

  23. Rene says:

    So, Houston SMEs, is it gonna work?

  24. oatwillie says:

    let’s see, the graf zeppelin was filled with hydrogen when it came into New Jersey and became famous. How many of those scenes could there be in rush hour on 610 with hydrogen gas powered cars?

  25. lil_ol_me says:

    hyway1: time to hit it….
    making hydrogen in the garage….now that sounds like a safe thing to do…..

  26. CdrBear says:

    hyway1 knows absolutely nothing about the logistics and economics of hydrogen-powered vehicles. hyway1 … just exactly how do think hydrogen for H2-fueled vehicles will be produced?
    Electrolysis? Needs huge amounts of electricity.
    Steam methane reforming? Needs huge amounts of methane. Oh, yeah, it’s an endothermic reaction. Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.
    Now that you’ve produced all this hydrogen, how do you economically distribute this explosive material?
    Come up with those answers and maybe then we’ll listen.

  27. hyway1 says:

    Let’s hope that this is the last big oil disaster. If everybody convert their cars to run on hydrogen the demand for oil would diminish and the need to drill for oil in the deep sea beds would disapear.
    Converting a car to run on hydrogen is quite simple. It is similar to a conversion to CNG or bio-gas. You can make your own hydrogen in your garage, the equivalence of 1 gallon of gasoline for under 80 cents.
    Please go to http://www.hyway1.com to learn more about hydrogen.

  28. lil_ol_me says:

    is there an approximate time for the kill shot?

  29. KB says:

    Never saw much on the national news over the weekend about the government having to approve the procedurem while Obama screams “PLUG THE LEAK!”
    The Army Corps of Engineers STILL hasn’t put sand barriers like they planned on weeks ago, as Louisiana thought they were going to…unreal.
    But I’m not surprised.

  30. truthliberates says:

    Glad to see that the national news media has finally shown some interest in this man made BP oil disaster in our Gulf of Mexico. It is about time. This disaster should have been on the news 24/7 from the get-go.

  31. 'da neck says:

    The Coast Guard had to approve the operation because of the high chance that some (or lots) of the mud being used will end up in the gulf if the operation does not work.

  32. Champion4estMom says:

    Next headline if they fail: “Americans Get Go Ahead For BP Kill”.
    Freeze their liquid assets.
    Seize their leases and property.
    Prosecute their executives.

  33. Indian paintbrush says:

    So the Coast Guard had to approve it first. Make sure that all who have been screaming ” what is BP waiting on?” get that message.
    Let’s hope this works.

  34. Innocent Bystander says:

    The Coast Guard is hardly in charge here. But if it makes everyone feel better, we’ll pretend that they are.
    Good luck in the operation.