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.