'Top kill' oil spill containment efforts continue

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The “top kill” oil spill containment efforts continued over the night in the Gulf of Mexico.

For comprehensive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon incident, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts under way to resolve them, visit PennEnergy's Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico special section.

BP reports that there have been no significant events concerning the “top kill” effort. Live video of the procedure is streaming on the BP website for the public to view.

Experts began pumping very heavy drilling fluids into the damaged Macondo well Wednesday afternoon, after receiving the go-ahead from the US governmental agency overseeing the process.

The drilling fluids are meant to slow the flow of oil before a cement slurry is pumped into the well to permanently seal the leaking oil and natural gas well.

A “junk shot” may be simultaneously deployed to stop the flow of oil. Here, objects of varying sizes will be inserted into the empty crevices of the BOP to help clog the flow of oil.

While this “top kill” procedure has worked in shallower water depths, there is uncertainty as to its success at the deepwater depth that the Macondo well is located. The process may take up to two days to complete. 

Other oil spill containment measures have been developed, including an LMRP cap, to curb the flow of oil should this prove unsuccessful.

Additionally, two drilling rigs are currently drilling relief wells on the Macondo formation to help reduce the amount of pressure forcing the oil and natural gas through the damaged well.

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