Breaking: “Top kill” worked

posted at 12:19 pm on May 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

British Petroleum and the federal government are both claiming victory today after an experimental process to stop the flow of oil from a blowout in the Gulf appears to have succeeded.  The “top kill” process dumped mud into the broken pipe, effectively snuffing out the spewing of thousands of barrels of oil (via Instapundit):

Engineers have succeeded in stopping the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government’s top oil spill commander, Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

The so-called “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers in Houston, has pumped enough drilling fluid to block all oil and gas from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well is very low, but persistent, he said.

Once engineers have reduced the well pressure to zero, they will begin to pump cement into the hole to entomb the well. To help that effort, he said, engineers are also pumping some debris into the blowout preventer at the top of the well.

That’s pretty good timing for today’s presser, but undeniably just great news altogether.  It verifies a more or less speculative solution that apparently was the last guess at stopping the oil.  “Top kill” had worked at much shallower depths in the past, but so had the bell cap process, too, which turned out to be unsuitable for 5,000 feet.

However, the trouble may not yet be past.  The ship pumping the mud has run out of material; a second ship is on the way.  The shell of mud may still blow open from the  upward pressure, but that could be resolved by more applications of “top kill.”

Now all that is left is the cleanup — and that will take much, much longer than plugging the leak did.  Expect this to drag on for months and perhaps years.

Breaking on Hot Air

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Why didn’t OBama give Jindal permission to build sand barriers.

the_nile on May 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

My prediction-odumbo pointed fingers at everyone but himself for the spill and really did nothing to help But if this works he will take all the Credit.

rjoco1 on May 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

BTW- Does anyone remember shortly after the accident Sen. Landreau stating that there was no oil leaking from the well head.

rjoco1 on May 27, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Why didn’t OBama give Jindal permission to build sand barriers.

the_nile on May 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Because he’s not a Democrat.

labrat on May 27, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Why didn’t OBama give Jindal permission to build sand barriers.

the_nile on May 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Army corps of engineers said it wouldn’t be cost effective.

Thunderstorm129 on May 27, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Come to think of it, wasn’t the main problem that the drill ship sank and pulled the drilling pipe down with it? Would the pipe have stayed up, still blowing oil temporarily, if the ship had pulled away from it?

Count to 10 on May 27, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I thought we were waiting 40 days and 40 nights and Obama was going to miracle the well closed.

jcrue on May 27, 2010 at 1:41 PM

No way this is permanent without drilling a new well into this field.

Beto Ochoa on May 27, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Drilling mud is white.

This isn’t.

freedomplow on May 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Other commenters have said that the well will be abandoned after it is plugged. Why? Can’t they setup another platform near to this one and start pumping oil again? I’m not an engineer, but geez louise. They know the oil is there and it not like we don’t need it.

Mirimichi on May 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM

This particular well will be abandoned. They will drill a new well into the same formation at a later date – when the lefties are thrown out of the white house.

Vashta.Nerada on May 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Ragspierre on May 27, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Great posts on this topic Rags…thanks for the valuable insight. Were you in the oil and gas biz in a prior life?

dakine on May 27, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Other commenters have said that the well will be abandoned after it is plugged. Why? Can’t they setup another platform near to this one and start pumping oil again? I’m not an engineer, but geez louise. They know the oil is there and it not like we don’t need it.

Mirimichi on May 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM

This particular well will be abandoned. They will drill a new well into the same formation at a later date – when the lefties are thrown out of the white house.

Vashta.Nerada on May 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

They’ll also want to wait when the PR situation is better. That may come either with time (American collective memory isn’t the best), or when skyrocketing fuel prices suddenly have people screaming for more supply.

Dark-Star on May 27, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I think if it ever comes out that BP tried to “get the oil first, seal it when that failed”, I and a few Americans will be quite upset.

Thunderstorm129 on May 27, 2010 at 1:00 PM

I doubt it. Because of hole pressure, it is much easier to divert the oil into a pipe than to plug the well.

Vashta.Nerada on May 27, 2010 at 1:53 PM

oldleprechaun on May 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Is the oil they used in that video similar to the oil in the Gulf?

It looks easy but there is something else to think about: if they use this hay (an enormous amount) for cleaning up the oil, that is hay that can’t be used to feed animals etc. So the cost of hay sky rockets and drives farmers and cattlemen out of business, the cost of meat skyrockets, and the cost of oil skyrockets.

But if it works and saves LA coastline, marshes etc then that is what we should do.

journeyintothewhirlwind on May 27, 2010 at 1:55 PM

All hail Obama the merciful who spoke the words “Plug the damn hole” so that the hole would be plugged.

And he saw that it was good.

JadeNYU on May 27, 2010 at 1:58 PM


From the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort,” Obama said. “BP is operating at our direction.”

Big mouth teleprompter said this. He doesn’t think berfore reading the teleprompter. That meas the dithering he is respinsible for. The selection and application of dispersants etc. It is now Obama taking credit for solving the problem. He is phony.

seven on May 27, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Al Gore: I invented the internet.
Barack Obama: I stopped the leak in the Gulf of Mexico ocean.

Skywise on May 27, 2010 at 2:00 PM

So… uh… if Obama was in charge the entire time…

Why did he fire Elizabeth Birnbaum today?

Skywise on May 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Someone has to be the scapegoat if Ostupid has to give up his vacation this weekend.

capejasmine on May 27, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate those engineers and workers who actually pulled this off!

A brother of a friend is probably one of them. Yaaaay!

All 0bama did was flap his jaws in response to fading poll numbers. No damn way he and his government were “in charge from day one.”

Sekhmet on May 27, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Now all that is left is the cleanup

Wait until we find out just how much of that oil is laying on the bottom out-of-sight, as well as the consequences of BP using a dispersant that is banned in the UK, that now lies inside the Gulf stream.

Texas Gal on May 27, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Governor Jindal already exposed Obama’s EPIC FAIL in handling the Gulf Gusher. Barry’s little presser just now serves only to reinforce it.

Christien on May 27, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Allow me to write the NYT lead headline

Obama: “Plug the damned hole” By HIS direction, it was!

GarandFan on May 27, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Why didn’t OBama give Jindal permission to build sand barriers.
the_nile on May 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

One: Because, Barry was to busy healing the earth and making the oceans recede. Then he was to busy giving scoldings to big oil ( except for the fund raiser at http://www.congoo.com/news/2010May26/Menu-Getty-home-Obama-visit). A BIG WTF

Two: He was busy driving the Bus over Arizona… What a trail that bus leaves behind in it’s wake.

USMCDevilDog on May 27, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Engineers rock.

TexasDan on May 27, 2010 at 3:04 PM

What happens when you lose credibility? Like the witness in a murder case who’s caught in a lie about his taxes. Can’t believe anything he says anymore.

I know it might look just peachy for TMPROP (The Man Playing the Role of President)to have his first press conference in almost a year standing on the Louisiana coast with a boot on the throat of some guy in a BP costume, but…

In the current environment (distrust of anything the man says), I suggest that it might well backfire on him.

It looks INCREDIBLY opportunistic.

My advice to TMPROP is to avoid (which of course he can’t) the impulse to take credit for plugging this well.

BP (actually their sub-contractors) were on site when it happened and BP plugged the damn hole. End of story.

By trying to take credit for something in which he had no role, he could be only stretching the public’s patience with his hubris even thinner than it now is.

IndieDogg on May 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

By Ed’s commentary, he obviously doesn’t really understand.

BTW, the breaking news came much earlier than Ed has it.

I really don’t think that the folks at HotAir know or understand anything about what has been going on or really care.

Kermit on May 27, 2010 at 3:32 PM

And he saw that it was good.

JadeNYU on May 27, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Years from now, we’ll look back and remember that in 2008 came “the moment when the seas began to recede and the planet began to heal”.

Whew…that was a close one!

Jaibones on May 27, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Kermit on May 27, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Well you contribute information and/or sources, or just impugn the bloggers.

It’s up to you.

Inanemergencydial on May 27, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Well you could contribute information and/or sources, or just impugn the bloggers.

It’s up to you.

Inanemergencydial on May 27, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Inanemergencydial on May 27, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Drilling mud is white.

This isn’t.

freedomplow on May 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Not where I come from!

It’s all shades of gray and brown. Maybe you’re referring to some custom blend of chemicals for a special job.

Ogabe on May 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Never noticed before how many conspiracy theorists were on this site – almost like walking in on the Kos Kidz.

For real detailed info here are a couple good sites (watch out for the odd wack-job there too):

The Oil Drum

Upstream Online

Ogabe on May 27, 2010 at 4:36 PM

If it didn’t work it was somehow someway connected to GWB but if it worked (no matter who thought of it) it will be a daring heroic effort by Obama…known to most of us as OLIAR.

SgtRed on May 27, 2010 at 4:37 PM

That’s a relief.

ronsfi on May 27, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

20 minutes ago the NYTimes was reporting via Google News that the leak is not stopped.

moochy on May 27, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Obama saved us!!!

Good thing this worked or he would have had to put his big mouth over it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 27, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Obama saved us!!!

Sorry Barry – It’s not over till it’s over!

They still have a lot of problems with the well pouring out oil and mud.

The Oil Drum

Ogabe on May 27, 2010 at 5:43 PM

Did anyone think to ask Adam and Jamie? Seriously.

- The Cat

MirCat on May 27, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Plug the damn ho!
-Hussein

Inanemergencydial on May 27, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Better update this one. while the flow has certainly been lessened, it has not stopped. There still is a lot of gas coming out of that riser just about the BOP Stack.

Kermit on May 27, 2010 at 9:31 PM

Obama saved us!!!

Sorry Barry – It’s not over till it’s over!

They still have a lot of problems with the well pouring out oil and mud.

The Oil Drum

Ogabe on May 27, 2010 at 5:43 PM

While there are few decent posters in OD, it is basically a doom and gloom website that says we are at peak oil, which is far from being true if you know about the vast reserves that we have in Fed owned lands.

Kermit on May 27, 2010 at 9:41 PM

While there are few decent posters in OD, it is basically a doom and gloom website that says we are at peak oil, which is far from being true if you know about the vast reserves that we have in Fed owned lands

I agree, but I go there to read what some of the more experienced hands have to say. I just ignore the wackos.

Ogabe on May 28, 2010 at 2:52 AM

The fool in chief couldn’t change the oil in a car….

Sonosam on May 28, 2010 at 10:21 AM

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