BP top kill suspended twice, only 10 percent effective by Friday

looking up at the towers of a drilling rig

The BP top kill procedure was suspended early Friday morning yet oil company and Coast Guard officials told the press and the public that it was working to stop the flow of oil. Flickr photo.

The BP top kill, the oil company’s latest attempt to plug the gusher of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, was given a 60 to 70 percent chance of success through the weekend. However, BP suspended the top kill effort without informing the public in top kill progress reports Friday while President Obama toured the region. The BP oil leak, which was designated the worst oil spill in U.S. history Thursday, has been pouring at least 12,000 barrels a day into the ocean for five weeks. BP’s oil spill costs are approaching $1 billion.

BP fudges on top kill progress

The top kill procedure, which began Wednesday, was suspended for the second time in two days Friday. Reporting on top kill progress, BP CEO Tony Hayward said BP will know in the next 48 hours if the procedure has worked. Reuters reports that while aboard a helicopter inspecting the spill site over the Gulf, Heyward said “We have wrestled it to the ground, but we haven’t put a bullet in its head yet.” Hayward, who probably doesn’t need money now, said the ruptured well likely contained between 50 million and 100 million barrels of oil, which would have been worth about $750 million to $1 billion.

Lies about top kill suspension

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen said the top kill procedure was continuing and that BP engineers had been able “to push the hydrocarbons and the oil down with the mud.” Yet the New York Times reports that BP suspended pumping operations at 2:30 a.m. Friday after two “junk shot” attempts. For a junk shot, BP engineers poured pieces of rubber, golf balls and other debris into the wells crippled blowout preventer, trying to clog the device that sits atop the wellhead. BP hoped the maneuver, in conjunction with the top kill, would finally stop the gushing oil.

Top kill live feed: mud not oil?

Hayward, appearing with Allen on Good Morning America” said that top kill progress  was “going pretty well according to plan. Much of the volume you see coming out of the well in the last 36 hours is mud,” he said, referring to the top kill live video feed of the oil leak. But the New York Times article quotes a technician working on the effort saying later Friday that despite the injections at various pressure levels, engineers had been able to keep less than 10 percent of the injection fluids inside the stack of pipes above the well. He said that was barely an improvement on Wednesday’s results when the top kill procedure was suspended after 11 hours. BP resumed the pumping effort until it was suspended again early Friday morning.

BP oil leak costs soaring

Touring beaches at the site of the disaster, President Obama ordered a tripling of the manpower in places where oil has already washed ashore or is within a day of hitting land. BP is responsible to fund that manpower, and MarketWatch reports that BP has spent $930 million on the response since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 began April 20. Estimates for the total cleanup costs are expected to range well into the billions. BP has made payments on 11,650 of about 26,000 oil spill damage claims filed so far. Almost 1,300 vessels are involved in the response effort.

BP oil leak plan B, and C

If the top kill and junk shots fail to plug the ruptured well, BP will make a second try placing a containment dome over the leak. A previous attempt failed. Another option involves placing a new blowout preventer atop the failed one to seal the well. Drilling that started May 16 on a relief well was suspended to make the blowout preventer being used there available if needed.

The Obama oil spill tour

The president’s visit to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 was his second to the disaster so far. The Miami Herald reports that the president was also scheduled to visit the Coast Guard Station in Grand Isle, La., for visits with the governors of Alabama, Florida and Louisiana — gulf states where coastal tourism and the fishing industry are being impacted by the BP oil leak disaster.

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