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Gulf oil spill: 'Top kill' procedure begins


Engineers have begun the "top kill" maneuver aimed at stanching the gush of oil from a blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, BP and U.S. Coast Guard confirmed.

The much-awaited procedure began at 1 p.m. Central Daylight Time, according to BP.

The maneuver, which BP officials warned could take hours or days to complete, would attempt to overpower the upward flow of oil by pumping drilling fluid -- and eventually a cement mixture -- at high pressure down the well. Several hundred engineers in Houston have prepped for the effort for weeks.

If executed incorrectly, however, the top kill could blow the fail-safe systems, dramatically increasing the flow of oil.

Engineers had worked through the night to gauge pressure and run other diagnostic tests associated with the billowing oil. In a sign of the critical importance of the effort, Energy Secretary Steven Chu -- a Nobel-winning physicist -- personally joined the diagnostic team in Houston.

-- Jim Tankersley in Washington

Comments () | Archives (17)

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I cannot confirm that all the blame for the lack to reach the completion date as planned should all weigh on BP. BP is a high tech company in the oil field and there are safety standards that must be met. These things take planning and time, and proper permission to have the support of the required staff to do the job. If BP was not allowed the desired professional staff then this delay cannot be all their fault. Who's to blame or who all?

Thank you for the graphics. I've been looking for something that makes the problem and process visually clear, and you provided it. (To the extent the schematic was provided by BP, we of course have to wonder about any distortions that would favor their public relations!)

Let's see, you don't want drilling......
Is wind or solar going to power your car...........NO
Is wind or solar going to power your home........NO
Is wind or solar going to power your airplanes.....NO
Can we try nuclear power, which has proven itself
compared to these other options....................NO

Are you all completely clueless....................YES

wow!! that crazy stuff right there!~!!!!!1

Let's hope they can make it work better than "their" Twitter account...

It is George Bush and Dick Cheney trying to figure out which one of their friends is going to make the most out of this disaster. So glad the right loves to drill baby drill - idiots.


No, the mud doesn't fill the BOP, it fills the well. They have to pump in mud that weighs more than the pressure pushing up the oil. It is more like blowing on a straw to push the level of the liquid down.

@ The Idaho Kid,

Remember the chant at the last Republican convention? "Drill baby drill, drill baby drill!! Eat your words and the oil polluting the Gulf. Now conservatives are environmentalists? Now you folks understand why those environmental "extremists, tree huggers, anti- business", activists want to stop off shore drilling!

It took the BP brainiacs HOW MANY days to figure this out? The group with fingers up their noses must be BP, who would not allow anyone near their mess while they dispersed the evidence away from the surface.

If they own the oil to sell it, they also own it as it pollutes our water.

Let's pray this works, all politics aside.

They're BP officials.

Most of the "on shore" wells I've seen have an oily mess surrounding them. How many "off shore" wells do we have and what percentage of those wells are leaking? It might be worth finding out.

@Ed - the ROV is on the kill shot hook up to the BOP - fairly important to watch that - no everything is a conspiracy

Who's that group standing around with their fingers in their nose, looks like they belong to the Obama administration.

Under pressure BP said they wouldn't turn off the video during the Top Kill operation. So they instead they switched cameras to an ROV away from the gushing pipe. Unbelievable! These guys just don't get it.


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