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NEW ORLEANS (AFP) -- BP won't make a final decision until later Wednesday on whether to proceed with an ambitious "top kill" plan to cap the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, its chief executive said.

"Later on today, I will sit with my team and review the analysis and determine whether or not we should proceed," CEO Tony Hayward told CNN television.

"In the course of today, we will be determining whether or not we should proceed with the top kill operation," he said.

It had been hoped BP would begin the procedure early Wednesday. It involves smothering the leak with heavy drilling fluid then sealing it with concrete, a technique never before tried at such depth.

The top kill has been seen by some experts as the best short term hope of ending the crisis, since most other options for shutting down the oil leak would take weeks or even months to realize.

Disclaimer: I really have no idea what is going on, but this headline and article just hit the wire.  I can provide a link, but I don't think I'm allowed to based upon my subscription.

Additional Source corroborating above quote:

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Under intense pressure from the Obama administration, the chief executive of BP Plc said he expects to decide later on Wednesday whether to proceed with a tricky "top kill" procedure to try to contain leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

The massive oil leak is threatening an ecological and economic disaster along the U.S. Gulf coast.

"Later this morning I will review that with the team, and I will take a final decision as to whether or not we should proceed," BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward told the NBC "Today" show on Wednesday.

If he determines it is safe to proceed, the procedure is expected to happen on Wednesday, he said. He added it will take a day or two to determine whether the procedure worked.

Source: Reuters Via Yahoo! News

The Top Kill procedure was originally delayed to Wednesday morning, but it appears as though it has been delayed once again.

BP Live Spillcam

Just to reiterate, I have absolutely no working knowledge of deep sea drilling, spill clean-up, etc.

Originally posted to Vote For America on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:08 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  A must read for this. (13+ / 0-)

    No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, `less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

    by dov12348 on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:11:06 AM PDT

  •  There is a big risk to top kill (14+ / 0-)

    if the pressures aren't just right, and they aren't sure that the BOP and the well casing can withstand the pressures, the BOP can be damaged and/or the well casing can be damaged, either (or both) of which will make the flow worse.  

    They basically have to calculate the risk of making things worse against the risk of making things better until the relief well can be completed and finally kill this thing.  

    •  The best part- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they're short a bunch of data...

    •  If.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They basically have to calculate the risk of making things worse against the risk of making things better until the relief well can be completed and finally kill this thing.  

      If it does.  it is by no means certain that the relief well will work.  I don't think it has been done that far down before.

      Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:26:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  doubts re relief well aka kill bore (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Demena, Oh Mary Oh

        Hi Demena,

        When you say it's not certain that the relief well will work, do you mean it will be difficult to hit the original well so deep (the problem of finding a needle in a haystack 18,000 ft down) or that, once the connection is made, the flow won't stop?

        I could see the former but not the latter. It's tricky to evaluate - most who know stuff on these blogs say the relief well (which would be better called a "kill bore") is the tried and true method. However, I am wondering whether BP is fooling around with these other things (top hat top kill junk shot etc.) because there is real doubt about the relief well working. It is reported that in the recent Australian blowout that it took several attempts to hit the original well with the the relief well.

        BP is drilling two relief wells. You wonder if they should have some more going.


        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Wed May 26, 2010 at 07:02:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know I am an aussie? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We had a deal like this in the Timor sea.  But our problems were minimal compared to those in the Gulf.  We were at a relatively shallow depth and it was a much smaller release.  The pressures were smaller, temperature (at bottom of bore) were lower and the area more accessible.

          Yet we were repeatedly told that it might not work.  We told not to get our expectations high as it might take a number of attempts to succeed.  That is really all I got.  Lucky for us it did work.

          Your problem is orders of magnitude more difficult with many more unknowns than the engineers had to deal with here.  Again that is all I got.

          But if you consider that enough to comment (perhaps I should not have) then you are going to have orders of magnitude in hitting the bore and a whole lot of unknowns if and when they do.

          Fishgrease could provide better technical detail but I strongly suspect that he will have the same opinion.

          Of hand from a strategic not technical point of view I would be wanting to go for five and I would not commence the kill until all had impacted the bore at different heights.  Then run the kill from all five simultaneously.  That would give you far better odds in a minimal additional time frame.

          There is a fuck of a lot of pressure down there, far more than we had to contend with and the further down you go the more the pumping pressure will be reduced from fiction.  So the more kill holes you drill the better the chances because each one will add to the pressure you can deliver.

          But before you take it as gospel I would consult Fishgrease. Fucking Fishgrease has fucking far fucking more fucking knowledge and fucking experience than I fucking well do.

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Wed May 26, 2010 at 07:34:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  good answer! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it is interesting how we're all talking but we really don't know that much.

            With the Timor blowout, did the early relief wells fail because they didn't hit the original bore, or did they fail after finding the bore?

            No, I didn't know you were an Aussie ....

            An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

            by mightymouse on Wed May 26, 2010 at 07:40:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, IIRC they got it in one. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              But they went to great pains to tell us not to expect it.  So much so that many stopped following it and were surprised that it was shut down as early as they did.

              IIRC what failed were top kill attempts and surface techniques.

              But a big a disaster as we thought it was at the time, the Gulf situation is unbelievably more difficult to deal with.

              I actually think BP is doing rather well considering what they have to deal with, but I would feel better if they had used at least one more bore aimed just a little higher.

              Now I need a Fishgrease comment so I know wether or not I am making a fool of myself.

              it is interesting how we're all talking but we really don't know that much.

              Truth is, I don't think anyone knows. We haven't had to deal with this before and we do not want to have to deal with it again.

              Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Wed May 26, 2010 at 07:50:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  A proper risk vs. benefit analysis (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, Lady Libertine

      requires not only good information, but complete information.  Well pressure, flow rate, etc. are relatively simple (despite the continuing publicly disseminated figure of 5,000bpd).  But the ecological and economic costs are largely unknown.  The effects of massive quantities of "dispersed" oil suspended out of sight below the surface are also of unknown import.

      I doubt BP will be taking these unknowns into account in it's risk / benefit analysis.  This decision, as with most corporate decisions, will be based simply on the net fiscal consequences.  Money.

      "If you do not read the paper, you are uninformed. If you do read the paper, you are misinformed."--Mark Twain.

      by ovals49 on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:27:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One never has Complete Information (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, Onomastic

        You can bet that BP will attempt to quantify the ecological costs of a disaster, and incorporate that into its cost/benefit analysis.

        But with respect to "complete" information, one simply never has that.

        Would a company ever undertake a new venture if it waited for "complete" information, especially when consumer taste is so difficult to quantify?

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:32:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think another point they may be checking (0+ / 0-)

        Is whether the pipe has fractures that could rupture when a higher revese pressure is applied.

        To my knowledge this can be done using ultrasound analysis although that is speculation on my part and I consider the problems vibration of the tube by the stream turbulance could cause.

        The mechanical integrity of the tube and wellhead has to be a primary concern in making a decision to proceed.

        Ditto the previous comments - do it right; obtain as much information as possible, risk analysis, mitigation measures.

        "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

        by koNko on Wed May 26, 2010 at 09:16:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Whether." Well There Goes 60% Success Odds nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:13:47 AM PDT

    •  Why so? (0+ / 0-)

      A delay might very well indicate they have more complete information and are analyzing the conditions and/or planning risk mitigation measures to improve those odds.

      "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

      by koNko on Wed May 26, 2010 at 09:18:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So Is There a Significant Amount of Pipe Above (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    the water such that it could rupture if this goes wrong? I was thinking that if it was a simple pipe coming straight out of the bottom, if they began packing mud at a level below the bottom, the pipe would be supported by surrounding ooze and rock etc.

    But evidently it's not that straightforward. ??

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:16:37 AM PDT

  •  Here's a thought if not already raised - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To overcome the pressure of the well :

    If all goes as planned, a 30,000-horsepower engine aboard the HOS Centerline will pump mud at 40 to 50 barrels a minute to the Q4000 command vessel, then down a newly installed pipe to the gulf bottom, and then through flexible hoses into multiple portals in the blowout preventer.

    40 barrels a minute = 2,400 barrels per hour
    2,400 barrels hr = 57,600 barrels per day
    And there are two pumps

    This mud, at about twice the density of water, will be delivered from the two high-pressure Schlumberger MD 1000 mud pumps

    If the flow was only 5,000 barrels a day, why is there enough capacity to pump 115,200 barrels per day low end (40 per minute) or 144,000 barrels/day at 50 barrels per minute.

    Overkill or chronic underestimate released to the American gullible fools public?

    Those folks who are trying to get in the way of progress - let me tell you, I'm just getting started. I don't quit. I'm not tired; I'm just getting started.

    by Unenergy on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:24:40 AM PDT

    •  Eh, I'd want overkill on this anyway. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bevenro, Onomastic

      Gotta overcome the inertia of oil/gas mixture, don't know how much loss you're going to have to unknown factors- I'd use the big hammer.

      Also, what if, God forbid, there was an unforeseen technical failure?

      Lots of backup- One shot at this.

    •  I don't think they know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, Onomastic

      how much they can actually pump through the 3 inch lines at the BOP without causing further problems.  There is a critical point in the process where if you can't pump enough mud fast enough, you lose the pressure battle and the entire BOP works could blow leaving only an open hole in the ground.

      "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

      by jlynne on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:41:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I assume they consider (0+ / 0-)

        That the BOP could break, and then they are trying to fill and reverse flow in a 7 inch tube from a much smaller tube. That will require very high pressure/flow/volume.

        "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

        by koNko on Wed May 26, 2010 at 09:30:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  while I'm sure BP lowballed the numbers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unless you're a high-level drilling expert (which maybe you are)--I don't think there's anything to read there.

      I'd want a million barrels going the other way if I could get it!

    •  Because they have to create counterflow (0+ / 0-)

      in what is an open susyem, and that requires a counterforce many times greater than the pressure of the leak.

      I also believe it must be done rapidly like a "shot"  to displace the oil in the immediate region of the pump tubes since these tubes are a smaller diameter then the well.

      Also consider the fact that the oil stream contains a lot of gas which is compressible.

      Lastly, it may be necessary to pump for a sustained length of time to allow the mud to solidify.

      Add those together and it suggests you would want to pump at relatively high pressure/volume.

      It's not like putting a solid plug into a tube, but rather like causeing a river to flow backwards.

      "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

      by koNko on Wed May 26, 2010 at 09:28:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  re "I have absolutely no working knowledge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap, BardoOne, DRo

    of deep sea drilling, spill clean-up, etc."

    Apparently neither does BP!

    "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" --- President Barack Obama, 1-20-2009.

    by tier1express on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:27:32 AM PDT

  •  they're scared to death of it (4+ / 0-)

    But they don't have any other ideas other than a relief well that won't be done until August.

    Progressive -> Progress; Conservative -> Con

    by nightsweat on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:28:25 AM PDT

  •  Just another delay on the part of BP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Zmuenga

    The CEO probably can't even make up his mind what to eat for dinner.

  •  It would have been so much better if .... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Under intense pressure from the Obama administration

    the offshore drilling companies adopted safe drilling practices and corruption had been cleaned up...  before the explosion.

    If pushing for a top kill has a high probability of  an increase in oil flow then it shouldn't be done just for political reasons.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Wed May 26, 2010 at 06:32:36 AM PDT

  •  It is worth waiting to get things right... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, Kristina40

    If this doesn't work, it could make things worse (yes, that is possible)... if they further compromise the BOP and/or wellhead, they may have a harder time sending mud down when the relief well is finished later this summer... In other words, if they fuck this up, it could add months (beyond August) to time this thing continues to gush.

    I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to try this... because they might just scrap the idea.

  •  perhaps the analysis brought more concerns (0+ / 0-)
    They've been studying the BOP, trying to determine whether it might fail due to the pressure of the mud shot. They even modified one of the control units ("pod") so that it can give them pressure readings that had been unavailable. I wonder if the results of these examinations are worse than they expected, leading to a much less optimistic outlook on the kill shot.

    They do have alternatives. But, if the BOP is heavily damaged by the mud it could nearly nullify any benefit to shearing the riser and installing the LMRP. Not good.

    Of course, the delay may simply be due to an excess of caution (and i couldn't blame them). BP is making noises about feeling pressured by the WH, which is itself under enormous pressure from the public. They know that the kill shot may exacerbate the problem but there's a lot of pressure to move now. Perhaps they've decided to stand back, ignore everyone else, and give it some more thought. I know i'd want to think long and hard before giving the go-ahead on this.

    There was a link in last night's OND pointing to a good post at The Oil Drum: The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill - the Top Kill Attempt. It includes some graphics, as well as a link to a BP video showing ROV operations to cut some high pressure hoses from the BOP and install new ones. Also, be sure to check the lengthy comments. Really good stuff.

  •  I think BP wants to be ordered to do it... (0+ / 0-)

    by Obama Administration, so if it goes bad, they can say "Blame the Government" and figure they'd be off the hook going forward.

    Politics is like playing Asteroids - You go far enough to the left and you end up on the right. Or vice-versa.

    by Jonze on Wed May 26, 2010 at 10:08:41 AM PDT

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