British Petroleum: U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster To Try New Procedure Called “Top Kill” To Cap Deep Sea Well……

Posted By on May 22, 2010

LONDON        BP PLC’s chief executive told staff he was frustrated by the company’s failure to stop an oil leak in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and warned an attempt to do so starting next week could fail.

In an email to staff late Friday, Tony Hayward said, “Like all of you, and the outside world, I have shared a huge sense of frustration that we have not yet been able to stop the leak” that started a month ago when a rig leased by BP exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Hayward said that an effort by BP to cap the well using heavy drilling fluids, a process known as “top kill” that’s due to be implemented early next week, “would be another first for this technology at these water depths and so, we cannot take its success for granted.”  BP said it would be at least Tuesday before engineers could start attempting the top kill, Associated Press reported.

Should the effort misfire, scientists told AP, it could lead to new problems. Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University professor of environmental studies, said the crippled piece of equipment called a blowout preventer could spring a new leak that could spew untold gallons of oil if there’s a weak spot that is vulnerable to pressure from the heavy mud.

Most of BP’s attempts to contain or shut down the spill have failed, but things began looking up for the company last Sunday when it began to remove at least some oil from the site of the leak. The company is also drilling two relief wells to permanently shut down the well, an effort that is scheduled to take months.

The U.K.-based oil giant has been using long tubes to siphon oil from the damaged well and transfer it to a vessel on the ocean’s surface. BP was collecting about 2,200 barrels a day from the well, a company spokesman said Saturday. The rate was in line with the amount that BP said was being collected the previous day.  Workers collect oil and debris that washed up onto a beach in Grand Isle, La.

On Thursday, BP had said that it was collecting 5,000 barrels a day, which until then had been the official estimate of the rate of oil flowing from the well a mile below the water’s surface. BP was forced to acknowledge that officials didn’t have a clear sense of how much oil was leaking.

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