BP Admits Top-Kill Failed

Overhead view of "top kill" operations. | Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/deepwaterhorizonresponse/4645041459/">Deepwater Horizon Response</a>.

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


UPDATE 7:08 PM SATURDAY: BP and the Coast Guard announced that they have stopped the top-kill procedure in a press conference Saturday evening, the 40th day of the Gulf disaster. “We have been unable to overcome the flow from the well,” said BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles. “We now believe it is time to move on to the next of our options.”

Suttles said the top-kill, which BP had given an estimated 60 to 70 percent chance of success, had failed. “We’ve given this every chance to succeed,” he said.

He acknowledged the growing frustration, and fear, as the top-kill had been painted as the best hope, short of waiting at least three months for a relief well to be drilled. “This scares everybody, the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far,” said Suttles.

The next option is what they’re calling the “Lower Marine Riser Package,” or LMRP, which would use robotic devices to cut off the broken riser at the top of the blowout preventer, cap the opening, and insert a new riser. The new riser would be used to pump the oil and gas to a ship on the surface (here’s a graphic explaining the process that BP released). But Suttles warned that this is as untested as previous efforts to cap the well: “No one’s ever done anything like this that I know of.”

With this new attempt, Suttles said there “clearly is a risk it won’t work.” Pressed by a reporter about the odds this would succeed at controlling the well, Suttles said, “We do have a lot of confidence, but I’m not going to quote a number.”

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said that it will take four to seven days to know if this next attempt works. “We’re all on a roller coaster ride here,” said Landry.

—-

After indicating on Thursday that the top-kill effort was working, then pausing the operation, then resuming it and indicating that it was going as planned on Friday, BP now says that the amount of oil spewing from the well hasn’t changed, and there is no guarantee that the procedure is actually working.

“I don’t think the amount of oil coming out has changed,” BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said on Saturday. “Just by watching it, we don’t believe it’s changed.”

BP, the Coast Guard, and federal officials are holding a press conference at 5 pm EST today. The Times-Picayune reports that, according to sources, there they will officially announce that the operation has failed and the company is setting to work on other plans:

BP is expected to announce that it will move on to its next option, known as LMRP. The procedure involves cutting off the failed, leaking riser at the top of the Lower Marine Riser Package on the blowout preventer to get a clean-cut surface on the pipe.

Then the company will install a cap with a sealing grommet that would be connected to a new riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, with the hopes of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.

I’ll have more after the press conference. [SEE UPDATE AT TOP OF POST.]

If you appreciate our BP coverage, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate