Oil spill containment measures fail, BP moves to another tactic

By Phaedra Friend Troy

BP reported that the “top kill” oil spill containment procedure that involved pumping very heavy drilling fluids into the well in an effort to stop the flow of oil long enough to cement it shut has failed -- despite early predictions that the "top kill" was going to prove successful.

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.

Over the last several days, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response team pumped some 30,000 barrels of heavy drilling mud into the damaged Macondo oil and gas well in an effort called a “top kill.” Simultaneously, a “junk shot” was deployed where various materials were injected into the empty crevices of the blowout preventer (BOP) to help clog the leaking well.

Neither the “top kill” nor the “junk shot” were successful, and the Macondo well continues to spew oil at an increased rate into the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico.

BP, the operator of the Macondo well, is now moving on to another oil spill containment attempt, the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) cap.

The LMRP cap procedure involves cutting the damaged drilling riser from the top of the Macondo BOP and capping it with this device to capture the rushing oil and gas. The LMRP cap would then connect to a new riser that leads to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

The LMRP cap is on location and should be deployed sometime this week.

All the while, the drilling of the two relief wells continues. The first well has reached a depth of 12,090 feet and is drilling along. When the second well reached 8,576 feet, drilling operations were temporarily suspended. Drilling is expected to recommence on the second well shortly. 

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